Leah, Pregnancy

Placenta Encapsulation

30 Nov ’11
Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

– Text by Leah – Photos by Mark

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta PhotographersSo I decided to encapsulate my placenta. Or, rather, I decided to hire someone to come over to my house and encapsulate it for me (thanks, Melanie!). Honestly, if I think about it too much it still grosses me out. *But* I’m happy to report that the actual taking of the placenta pills is not as gross as I feared. So why exactly am I swallowing my placenta? There are a list of supposed benefits from consuming one’s placenta after birth – from helping reduce postpartum bleeding, to increasing milk supply and a host of other things. There aren’t any big studies to back up these claims, but there are tons of anecdotal accounts from other women, so I figured I’d give it a shot… at the very least, it wouldn’t hurt me. And it could possibly really help with my postpartum recovery. The main reason I wanted to take placenta pills was to help with the huge hormonal decrease that follows birth. Like I said, there aren’t many studies yet on placentophagy, but the few small studies available are promising and show benefits such as decrease in maternal fatigue and postpartum depression. The placenta is super rich in nutrients, and contains a stress-fighting chemical know as corticotropin-releasing hormone, or CRH:

During the last trimester of pregnancy, the placenta secretes a lot of CRH. The rise is so dramatic that CRH levels in the maternal bloodstream increase threefold. “We can only speculate,” says George Chrousos, the endocrinologist who led the NIH study, “but we think it helps women go through the stress of pregnancy, labor, and delivery.” But what happens after birth, when the placenta is gone? Chrousos and his colleagues monitored CRH levels in 17 women from the last trimester to a year after they gave birth. All the women had low levels of CRH – as low as seen in some forms of depression – in the six weeks following birth. The seven women with the lowest levels felt depressed. Chrousos suspects that CRH levels are temporarily low in new mothers because CRH from the placenta disrupts the feedback system that regulates normal production of the hormone. During pregnancy, when CRH levels are high in the bloodstream, the hypothalamus releases less CRH. After birth, however, when this supplementary source of CRH is gone, it takes a while for the hypothalamus to get the signal that it needs to start making more CRH.

The theory is that by ingesting the placenta after birth, it helps the mother get over the “hump” until her brain starts producing CRH again, thereby warding off the baby blues or post-partum depression. And that’s primarily why I’ve chosen to eat my placenta. (yuck, it still grosses me out to say that!).

I’m only 2 weeks and 6 days postpartum now, but I can tell you that my milk supply is off the charts. BabyRoX is getting plenty of it and gaining weight like it’s his job. There have been two days I didn’t take my pills in the morning like usual, and on those days I felt way more tired and emotionally raw – you know, the kind of crazy everything-is-gonna-make-me-cry feeling…and then I took the pills, and I felt substantially more energetic and emotionally stable. Was this due to the powers of the placenta? Maybe, maybe not. But even if it’s just a placebo effect, I’m all for it. I like feeling great and I’m glad I decided to encapsulate my placenta. And the little purple pills in my fridge aren’t that gross. I just try not to think about it too much. Mark, on the other hand, photographed the whole process… for your viewing pleasure, of course!

(It gets pretty graphic and bloody – which is why we pushed the photos further down than usual on the page.)

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

– Text by Mark

We hired Melanie Nasmyth to do the placenta encapsulation. You can email her at: melnasmyth@gmail.com if you’re interested in finding out more about her services – she’s also a DONA certified labor doula.

To ‘keep’ the placenta – we placed it in a ziplock bag and put it in the fridge right after the birth. Two days later we had Melanie come over to turn the placenta into pills.

Of course – the first step whenever you’re cooking human parts – is to prepare the meat.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

There’s an outer lining/sac that you have to remove.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Once the placenta was cleaned – Melanie put it in the steamer and then into a pot of water to cook the thing.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Oh yeah – if you put a lemon slice into the pot – it helps to keep it from really smelling bad as the placenta cooks.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

It cooks faster if you poke a few holes into the placenta meat.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Hey look. Cord.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

And then after 20 minutes or so – you have cooked placenta!

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Now you cut it up into slices.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Get your Food Dehydrator ready – because we’re making placenta jerky.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

… six hours later…. you take all of that placenta jerky and eat it.

No – just kidding don’t do that! You put it into a coffee grinder (one that you will NEVER USE AGAIN) – and grind that placenta meat into a fine powder.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

And then you grab your ‘pill-making’ set and get to work.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

And now you have 64 pills (or more).

It’s a relatively easy process once you know what you’re doing and once you have all of the tools/appliances you need. Melanie brought a lot of her own supplies with her – stuff like a disposable cutting board, the knives, the food dehydrator, the coffee grinder, etc… think of all of the ‘dishes’ that you end up using when you cook a meal – now think about how you might NOT want to use any of that stuff EVER AGAIN.

It was totally worth it for us to hire Melanie and have her do everything, with her own supplies. Now – if you’re a partner/spouse that thinks this might be a crazy/gross thing for your wife to do – the way I see it is – F*ck the weirdness of the whole thing. If it’s going to keep my wife from getting post-partum depression or just help her from feeling sad/not feeling well, then I’m all for it. Why wouldn’t I be for something like that?

And now – it’s time for a bath and then a nap.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

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17 Comments

  • Reply Guina Govaert Bixler 1 Dec ’11 at 2:45 pm

    My most recent client took advantage of Melanie Belk Nasmyth’s services and reports noticing a vast improvement in her emotional health on the days she remembers to ingest her capsules. Thank you, Melanie, for providing this service!

  • Reply Jessica Crohn Alred 1 Dec ’11 at 6:01 pm

    My doula was with labor of love but I had someone else encapsulate my placenta. I did it for both the birth of my 4 week old and my 19 month old. I too have received many benefits from taking the pills. Major milk supply and no baby blues. I have had a couple days where I feel irritable and run down and then I always realize I had forgotten to take my pills. Hard to believe it is just a coincidence.

  • Reply Jennifer Fargar 1 Dec ’11 at 10:35 pm

    Wonderful, Melanie! I really wish I had done this 7 years ago!

  • Reply How To Increase Milk Supply After 6 Months | How to increase milk supply 2 Dec ’11 at 8:08 am

    […] could diminish completely. Good luck and congratulations on your baby!Powered by Yahoo! AnswersMary asks…How can I increase breast milk supply after stopping breast feeding for 2 months?I fed m…>How can I increase breast milk supply after stopping breast feeding for 2 months?I fed my baby with […]

  • Reply Paula Swartz Smalley 2 Dec ’11 at 2:12 pm

    Ok–so glad to read this! As crazy as it may sound…. I was just on a field trip with my kindergarten class to a farm. Now bear with me…. 2 baby goats had just been born so it was such a treat to of gotten to see the sweet baby goats! The farmer was explaining to the moms that the mama goat eats her placenta to put the hormones back in her body after giving birth! It helps with her nursing–her strength and her overall being!
    So, the timing was perfect to of read ya’lls post! I think it all just makes so much sense! I love seeing all your pictures… they capture life in such a real and an amazing way! Enjoy every minute…

  • Reply How To Increase Milk Supply While Nursing | How to increase milk supply 2 Dec ’11 at 9:21 am

    […] for 8 months, you have nothing to be ashamed or feel guilty about.Powered by Yahoo! AnswersChris asks…when will i start pumping more milk?im back to work now, and have a 4 week old.. right …s="name">Chris asks…when will i start pumping more milk?im back to work now, and have a 4 week […]

  • Reply Joanie Costlow 4 Jan ’12 at 1:46 am

    I am due in early February and saw this article on Offbeat Mama. I was toying with the idea of getting this done by a lady at my midwife's office, but after showing my husband your blog he confidently exclaimed, "That doesn't look too hard, I'll just do it!" We are not really "squeamish" people and already have all those tools in our home and as my husband stated, "Its just like making placenta pemican only in a pill!" Oh, this will be interesting. 🙂

    • Reply Joanie Costlow 4 Jan ’12 at 1:48 am

      Also, the photos didn't bother me at all actually. In fact, it doesn't look any different than cooking liver. Of course, a lot of people don't eat liver anymore…

    • Reply Mark Rox Tioxon 4 Jan ’12 at 1:54 am

      Joanie Costlow Ha. Cool. It's technically not too hard. Just make sure you don't use that coffee grinder again for coffee! And don't forget the slice of lemon while you're steaming the placenta – it makes a big difference for the smell.

    • Reply Joanie Costlow 4 Jan ’12 at 2:12 am

      I will let him know, thanks! 🙂 We have a coffee burr mill that is separate from the "craft" grinder that we use for weird spices or tea that we got for $5 somewhere. We will be sure that the placenta is the last "craft" it sees. I will be curious about the smell though. I lived on goat and lamb my second trimester because it was the only meat I could stand at the time but I know many pregnant mamas that the smell of goat made them throw up in their mouths. Cooking placenta… I am imagining a dirty, minerally, wet rust smell mixed with overcooked beef. If it wasn't going to happen in February, I might just stay outside for that event.

  • Reply Mindy Dalzell 4 Jan ’12 at 4:37 am

    very interesting. I wonder why the cooking doesn't destroy any of the nutrient. I guess you can cook a steak and get all the nutrient. very very interesting. but alas I have had all my babies:)

  • Reply Samantha Barnes 4 Jan ’12 at 2:31 pm

    It's my first child, so I'm a bit wary of doing this at the moment. I'm glad to know more about it though. I think for my future children, I might consider this.

    • Reply Holly Peterson 6 Feb ’12 at 9:33 pm

      Go for it! 🙂 I never did it, but I wish I would have had the chance. Good luck.

  • Reply Melanie Nasmyth » Placenta.co 27 Jul ’12 at 7:25 am

    […] Placenta Encapsulation  Posted by Placenta at 11:25 am […]

  • Reply I Ate My Placenta and Loved It! » The Birthin' Blog 5 Feb ’13 at 9:58 am

    […] Well sorta.. actually these are referrals from folks who used our placenta encapsulation services with Melanie Nasmyth! Melanie is a biology major who is also the mom to four and a labor doula- although she rarely doulas much any more. She recently realized she had encapsulated over 100 placentas! She loves her work and here are some words from those who have benefited from that work! H.ere is a link to a previous client’s blog you may enjoy as well- L&MBLOG […]

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