Now personally I’m not a fan of raw blended placenta ‘smoothies’ (and sorry but how gross does that sound??!) I totally understand that many cultures around the world hold high belief in the health properties that the placenta hold and that some cook it, make it into teas or yes, grind that loveliness into a smoothie. All with the aim to help the new mother to recover and rejuvenate after the birth.

Give me an easy to swallow pill any day of the week rather than a spoonful of healthy fish oil or fresh crushed garlic. Having a ‘capsule’ option can make so many things much more palatable and never has this been more true than with the introduction of Placenta Capsules.

pregnancy
When I discovered that local doula Liz Fowles from CalmBirth-UK.com offers placenta encapsulation as one of her services I thought this is the perfect moment to learn more about it. I’m sure some of you have thought about it but don’t know the details of what’s involved. I have so many questions too! Like for example I would want to know:
1) At what point is it bagged up and sent away for processing?
2) Would they be able to take it away discretely without grossing out my husband (he is very squeamish and even if he makes it through the birth the placenta might be one step too far for him)!
3) Is it mixed with anything?
4) How long should I take it for and is there any side-effects?
5) What are the benefits and are there any risks?

Over to you Liz…….

Thanks Sally – happy to help! Placenta capsules are a great way to reabsorb the goodness contained within the amazing organ that grew as your baby grew, and provided all the nourishment it needed for its development, right up until the time your baby was born. Think of it as a gift from your body and your baby – Mother Nature’s “thank you” for carrying your little one for the best part of 9 months, or thereabouts!
During a normal vaginal delivery a new mother will lose about one eighth to one tenth of her body’s blood supply; with caesarean section births, blood loss can be significantly higher.  Losing a large amount of iron so quickly can cause anaemia, which leaves a new mum feeling exhausted and faint.  Mum’s blood needs to contain a high level of iron in order to carry oxygen to the cells and help them replenish and heal – whereas a low supply of oxygen leaves your cells starving and less able to do that.  The placenta contains incredibly high levels of iron, amino acids and essential fats which we believe are the perfect replenishment following the physical ordeal of birth.
The most important nutrients found in rich supply in the placenta include:
 Iron – which is essential for carrying oxygen to the cells
Vitamin B6 – aids in the making of antibodies, protecting you from bacterial infection
Vitamin E – for healing damaged skin cells
Oxytocin hormone – essential for the production and flow of milk for baby
Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) – responsible for reducing stress levels, and the avoidance of the “baby blues” and a reduced risk of postnatal depression
Cytokins – fibroblasts that trigger cell metabolism healing and replace damaged cells and tissue, which in turn, reduces the length and volume of blood loss in the weeks after the birth, and the associated risk of becoming anaemic further down the line
The value of ingesting this goodness cannot be stated highly enough. I did it with my second baby, and had to get over my initial reaction (of yuck!) by understanding how it would benefit me and my baby in those early weeks – I really didn’t want a repeat of my first post birth experience where walking to the loo felt like climbing Mount Everest (and I thought that was normal!).
In practise, it is really easy for you to do. All you need to do is make sure the midwives know you want to do this, and give them with the Instructions For Your Midwife your Placenta Specialist provided in advance. Then, when the placenta is delivered, it is literally placed, by them, into a clean sealable container (which you provide), and kept chilled in a cooler-bag full of ice packs. Your birth partner is responsible for contacting your placenta specialist, and keeping an eye on the placenta. Your PS will collect it within a few hours, and on collection, some paperwork will be exchanged to confirm it has been stored correctly and within sight since delivery. That is all you need to do.
Your PS whisks it away lovingly, and prepares it for encapsulation using one of two methods – the Traditional Chinese Method(TCM), or the Simple Method (SM). Each have their own benefits, and I often recommend mum chooses a 50:50 split, so she can benefit from both. But you are free to opt for just one method if you prefer.
TCM capsules are produced from a placenta that has been steamed with chilli, lemon, and ginger, and they are believed to help with circulation, and the absorption of nutrients, and thereby increase Mum’s energy levels. They should not be taken by Mum if she develops an infection, for example, a cold, or mastitis.
SM capsules (no steaming or herbs involved in this preparation) can be used under any circumstances, but do not have the added benefit believed to be provided by the TCM herbs.
Your placenta specialist will deliver your capsules to you within 24-48 hours. The number of capsules produced varies according to the method used, and also the size of your placenta(s). Anything from 90 to 140 is considered normal. The recommended dose is to take from 1 to 3 capsules a day until no longer required. An Essence (likened to your own personal “Rescue Remedy”), or a Tincture (great for helping with PMS or menopause) are also great natural products.
And while Sally doesn’t like the thought of Placenta Smoothies, I would actually recommend these as they can be made within a couple of hours of the birth, and you can start benefitting straight away. And once the capsules are ready, they continue to help the healing process.
If you would like to know more, or are interested in other ways to prepare for your birth or parenthood, take a look at our website, and get in touchwww.calmbirth-uk.com. Our team of doulas would love to hear from you.