Welcome to our first Sage Woman Q+A: Placenta encapsulation! In this new series, wise women share their knowledge with Tenth Moon Mother Care readers, in the spirit of empowerment and sisterhood. In this first installment, we talk with Brittany-Lyne Carriere, a full-spectrum doula who supports families in all reproductive journeys including fertility, birth, abortion and pregnancy loss. Brittany-Lyne and I sit together on the Board of Directors for Postpartum Support Toronto. Today she’s giving us the nitty-gritty on placenta encapsulation. Not sure what that is? Already considering it? Read on and get the answers.
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What is placenta encapsulation?
Placenta encapsulation involves dehydrating and encapsulating one’s placenta for the purpose of ingesting it. The placenta is made by the pregnant person and is a great source of vitamins and minerals to nourish, warm and tonify blood to support healing. The placenta is technically the baby’s but it is not foreign to your body. Encapsulation makes it easier for your body to metabolize and use all of the placenta’s many nutrients.
Possible benefits of placenta consumption:
- More qi (energy) and balanced mood
- Decreased postpartum bleeding
- Quicker healing time
- Increased milk supply
- Increased iron levels
Are there different methods?
Most placentas yield anywhere between one hundred and two hundred capsules. The most common encapsulation preparation methods are Raw and Traditional Chinese Medicine. I personally prefer the Traditional Chinese Medicine method as I have seen my clients experience its significant healing properties.
With this method, your placenta remains raw prior to dehydration. The theory behind keeping the placenta raw is that it retains all its nutrients and is most potent, although this is questionable. This method can also lead to some side effects of consumption, like the jitters, or feeling like you’ve had too much coffee. Most folks after birth need to be warmed to move and build blood. The raw method is ideal for folks who do not struggle with anxiety and who eat a raw diet.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Method:
With this method, your placenta is lightly steamed with warming and tonifying herbs to “warm” your placenta to make it most available for your body to use. Birthing folks in the postpartum period are prone to deficiencies of qi, blood and yin, as well as blood stagnation.
From a TCM perspective, the first three days post-birth are seen as a time of elimination or purging. During this time, treatment should be delayed unless issues of stagnation arise. The three-day waiting period is then followed by 30-100 days of tonification, necessary to rebuild the blood and qi lost through pregnancy and childbirth.
This concept of tonification applies to all birthing people, not just those that are exhausted following a difficult labour/birth. From a TCM perspective, slowly or lightly cooked foods are seen as more nourishing, moving and tonifying, as they require less energy to digest. Therefore, lightly steaming the placenta will allow its benefits to be easily put to use in your body.
- Gently rinse the placenta of blood clots, in order to drain excess blood
- TCM Method: The placenta is steamed lightly over boiling water and fresh, organic warming herbs: lemongrass/lemon, ginger, and hot green pepper
- Placenta is then cut into thin strips
- Strips are placed on a dehydrator on low heat over night
- Dried placenta is then ground finely. At this step herbs can be added to supplement the remedy.
- The powder is put into capsules, the capsules into a glass jar, and the jar into your hands!
Things you should know:
The placenta is safest when prepared in the home of the person who will be consuming it. If your placenta is in your possession at all times, you can be confident in its integrity.
Brittany-Lyne Carriere has been a full-spectrum doula since 2010. She is currently on leave from Laurentian University’s Midwifery Education Program and has completed her studies in Gender, Women and Sexualities. Brittany-Lyne is committed to offering inclusive, anti-oppressive, non-outcome focused care to her full-spectrum doula practice.