An Encapsulator’s Journey

“So what do you do?”
“I encapsulate placentas.”
Conversation just got awkward.

It began around April 2016 when I was 27 weeks pregnant with my first baby. I had absolutely no idea what motherhood would entail, however, knew for certain I did not want to experience what I had heard referred as “postpartum depression.” That just sounded horrific and being the planner that I am, I knew I had to gather my knowledge and referrals and come up with a proactive strategy. That is when google led me to consuming my placenta. WHAT?!?

So I thought on it more, talked to my skeptical husband about it, polled my mama friends and decided to try it.

I stumbled upon The Nurturing Root after only a few minutes of searching via the web. I mean, what on earth did our parents do without the internet?!?

I called Carmen (in a public place) then realized that this conversation is probably best suited for the privacy of my home. So I whisper inquired about her services.

She was incredibly easy to connect with over the phone and my due date was put into her calendar. BAM! It was set. I would have my placenta encapsulated days after the birth of my baby girl.

She came. We connected. She encapsulated. She left.

I took the pills. I never experienced postpartum depression and was able to successfully breastfeed for 14 months. I had energy and felt like myself.

Fast-forward to 2017 when I found out I was pregnant again. Obviously, I would encapsulate because why change something that unfolded so beautifully.

This time, my best friend was able to encapsulate for me through The Nurturing Root because she was now an encapsulator herself! Again, this postpartum period was beautiful. I had energy. My milk came in successfully. And most importantly, I felt like myself.

Today, I am 4 months postpartum with my second and just completed the training on placenta encapsulation.

I am a firm believer. While it may not be the best dinner conversation, I am confident in my ability to give mamas a tool to help their body, mind, and spirit recover from such an earth-shattering shift in their lives.

And that is the end of the tale. A public school teacher turned placenta encapsulator.

Is Placenta Encapsulation Safe for GBS+ Mothers?

placenta encapsulation and GBS

Is Placenta Encapsulation Safe?

Recently, The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) released an alarming single case report, in which a newborn was found to have a recurrent infection of group B Streptococcus agalactiae (GBS, group B strep), that was attributed to the mother’s consumption of placenta capsules. This has many people asking, ‘Is placenta encapsulation safe?’ We will navigate the findings of this case report, explore how this occurred, and discuss placenta encapsulation safety.

 

What are the findings of this case?

The CDC report discussed findings about a newborn who experienced a recurrent group B strep infection. GBS is a common bacterium, found in a person’s intestines or lower genital tract. Group B strep is present in about 25% of pregnant women, and is usually harmless. If transmitted to a newborn during birth, it can cause a rare but serious, illness known as group B strep infection. Because of this, it is standard practice for obstetricians and midwives to test expectant mothers for GBS, to determine if colonization is present. In this CDC report, the maternal GBS culture taken at 37 weeks was negative, meaning the mother’s lab test showed no colonization. Very shortly after birth, the newborn exhibited signs of an infection and lab results revealed the infant tested positive for group B strep. The infant was treated with antibiotics and hospitalized for about eleven days. Five days after the newborn’s release from the hospital, the baby again presented with GBS symptoms and tested positive for the same strain of group B strep. The baby was treated and was again released from the hospital after antibiotic therapy. At this point, it was discovered that the baby’s placenta had been encapsulated. The mother had been taking the placenta as capsules from three days postpartum. The capsules were tested and found to contain the same GBS strain that had infected the newborn. The mother’s breast milk was tested and did not contain group B strep, thus breastfeeding was ruled out as a potential source of reinfection. The authors of this report infer that ingestion of the GBS positive placenta capsules may have elevated maternal group B strep intestinal and skin colonization, facilitating transfer to the infant. The authors conclude by stating ‘placenta encapsulation process does not, per se, eradicate infectious pathogens; thus, placenta capsule ingestion should be avoided.’

 

So, How Did This Happen?

According to the report, the mother hired a company to pick up the placenta from her hospital and encapsulate it. The encapsulated placenta was returned to the mother three days later, and she began taking her capsules until it was suspected that they may be a source of group B strep. The encapsulator, who remained unnamed in the report, prepared the placenta from a raw state, dehydrating it at temperatures ranging from 115°F–160°F. According the CDC, heating at 130°F for 121 minutes is required to reduce bacteria present in placental tissue.

There are three problems with this case contributing to the placenta capsules testing positive for GBS, possibly re-infecting the newborn, and demonstrating unsafe processing practices.

 

The placenta was dehydrated from a raw state: This placenta was not heated to an adequate temperature, and possibly not for a long enough period of time to kill pathogens, like group B strep. Proper encapsulation protocols, require a specialist to steam the placenta, at 160°F, and then dehydrate it at 130°F for twelve hours. This method drastically reduces the occurrences of potentially harmful bacteria remaining present in the placenta. If the placenta referenced in this case was processed properly, it would almost certainly not have tested positive for group B strep.

 

Infection was present in baby: It is not a contraindication to encapsulate a placenta if a mother is found to have GBS. But if there is in an infection occurring in the infant or mother following birth, the placenta should absolutely not be encapsulated or consumed. Responsible and properly trained encapsulators will always inform their clients about any and all contradictions to placenta consumption.

 

The placenta was not processed in the client’s home: Another concern, is that this placenta was picked-up from the mother’s birth place and processed in a location other than her residence. It is impossible to know what type of preparation space the specialist worked in, if proper food safety protocols were followed, and if precautionary guidelines and decontamination practices for handling potentially infectious and biologically hazardous materials were utilized.

 

So, Is Placenta Encapsulation Safe?

A placenta from a normal, healthy infant and mother, when processed correctly is almost always safe to consume. With proper preparation, placenta encapsulation and consumption possesses almost no danger to a mother or baby.

 

Final Thoughts

Though startling, this report is only a single case study, and represents the findings and extrapolated assumptions of the authors. This is not an official CDC recommendation pertaining to placenta consumption. The report should serve as a caution for businesses offering encapsulation remedies and for families searching for placenta services. The Nurturing Root steadfastly believes that a placenta should ONLY be processed in a client’s home, using the traditional method, which steams the placenta first, to eradicate possible pathogens. It is crucial that you are able to witness the sanitation protocols implemented by your specialist, and know for certain, that the placenta being encapsulated is yours, it is processed correctly, and it is not contaminated by another source. We strongly encourage you to read this post, that lists six tips to consider before hiring a placenta encapsulation specialist. The Nurturing Root has encapsulated over 650 placentas, to date, with a 100% safety record and we have received only overwhelmingly positive reviews from our families. We believe in absolute transparency in the encapsulation process. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have about the CDC report or placenta encapsulation safety. Ohio families contact us here, and Maryland families, here.

If Most Mammals Consume Placenta, Why Don’t We?

Why don't humans ingest placenta?

The placenta, a temporary organ, has a crucial role to play in pregnancy.  It nourishes the fetus, also bringing oxygen and removing waste for the mother’s kidneys to dispose of.  This essential organ also regulates hormone production throughout pregnancy and is responsible for sustaining the pregnancy. The placenta, attached to the baby via the umbilical cord, is born shortly after the birth of the baby.

We know that with the exception of just a few species, all mammals, including herbivores, consume their placenta as an innate behavior after giving birth to their young. Some say the behavior, also known as placentophagy, satisfies a nutritional need of the mother.  Others claim it is a way for the animal to clean their nest in an effort not to attract predators.  While at first glance, the cleaning-of-the-nest theory makes sense, we know that animals whose young can walk immediately after the birth, such as horses or giraffes, still consume their afterbirth with great enthusiasm even though they could just walk away from the birth site to a perceived safer location. Similarly, monkey species also engage in placenta consumption even though they could let the placenta fall to the ground below away from their tree-top birthing location.

If mammalian mothers only consume placenta as a way to clean the nest site, why don’t they take the time to lick up the blood and other fluids from giving birth?  What are they gaining from the practice? And finally, if most other mammals do it, why don’t humans eat placenta after birth?

 

The Fire Hypothesis:

Last spring, I had the pleasure of attending PlacentCon, a conference for birth workers that hosted many presentations centered around the placenta and placentophagy.  The conference, held in Las Vegas, had speakers from a variety of specialties, but one of the most memorable talks was given by Dr. Daniel Benyshek, medical anthropologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).  Dr. Benyshek, along with researcher, Sharon Young, discussed their work with the groundbreaking placebo VS. placenta study currently underway at UNLV.  When asked about why humans don’t innately engage in placentophagy, Dr. Benyshek had a fascinating hypothesis.

He explained that as a species, early humans probably did consume their placenta after birth.  When fire was discovered millions of years ago, trees, absorbing heavy metals from the earth, were then burned.  As a result, expecting mothers were around smoke and inhaling it regularly.  While we know that the placenta does not act like a filter, holding onto toxins, it does have difficulty ridding itself of heavy metals.  As the women were around smoke more and more, their placentas had increased levels of cadmium and lead.  Upon ingesting their placentas after giving birth, women began either getting very ill or dying, and over time, we evolved to discontinue the practice.  For the same reason, in present day, it is thought that cigarette smoking in mothers is a contraindication of placenta encapsulation.

Though there is research supporting the benefits of placentophagy in new mothers, the body of research is small and incomplete.  The anecdotal evidence, however, showing that placenta encapsulation can help ease a new mother’s transition into motherhood is overwhelming.  Women who consume their placentas often report:

  • less incidence of iron deficiency
  • more energy
  • less fatigue despite irregular sleep
  • increased milk supply
  • enhanced mood
  • decreased postpartum bleeding

Whatever the cause of placentophagy in the animal kingdom, it’s clear that moms from across the world are pleased with the results from utilizing their placenta for postpartum recovery. It’s exciting to see more research developing about this practice.  Stay tuned in 2016 for the results of UNLV placenta VS. placebo study to be published!

 

To read what moms in Baltimore and the surrounding area have to say about their experience with placenta encapsulation, visit our testimonials page & our Facebook page.

Baltimore Placenta Encapsulation Specialists featured in The Baltimore Sun

Last February I was interviewed by Baltimore Sun reporter, Arlene Karidis about placenta encapsulation, its history, and the benefits. While the interviewer, only in the beginning stages of her research, seemed very uneasy and even squeamish about the topic, I could tell by the end of our hour-long chat, she was intrigued.

Last February I was interviewed by Baltimore Sun reporter, Arlene Karidis about placenta encapsulation, its history, and the benefits. While the interviewer, only in the beginning stages of her research, seemed very uneasy and even squeamish about the topic, I could tell by the end of our hour-long chat, she was intrigued.

Arlene went on to interview my friend and fellow placenta encapsulation specialist, Lauren Agro, 3 of my clients, a midwife from Special Beginnings, and an OB from Mercy Medical Center. The article was just published in Maryland Family Magazine, a Baltimore Sun publication, last week.

I’d like to thank my clients and colleagues for agreeing to an interview. Every little bit of press helps spread the word about the power of placenta and its use for postpartum recovery. I’m happy if even 1 mom has a peaceful postpartum by learning about placenta encapsulation from this article.

Click here to read the article.

Click here to read the article.

If you are looking for Baltimore placenta encapsulation specialist to serve you after your baby is born, contact us for more information.

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Peace, Love, Placenta,

Carmen

Placenta Encapsulation: Why it works

Placenta Encapsulation Services

March 24, 2013

Jodi Selander, founder and director of Placenta Benefits, recently wrote a terrific article discussing the reasoning behind using placenta for postpartum recovery.  The article addresses which hormones and components are contained in the placenta and how losing these components can impact a mother’s postpartum experience.  By reintroducing those hormones into new mothers via placenta encapsulation, they can reach homeostasis with more ease and without the blues and depression.

“Since the placenta is known to contain many of the components that a postpartum woman is lacking following parturition, many believe that by ingesting the placenta postpartum women can re-balance their systems more quickly.” (Selander 2013)

In the article, Jodi also discusses the new research recently published by UNLV and how the Traditional Chinese preparation affects and/or alters the placenta, its components, and its benefits.

If you are on the fence about whether placenta encapsulation is for you or are curious to learn more, you can read the article here.

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