by Anne Ferguson
Recently I received a call from a newly pregnant mom. I believe she is expecting her fifth baby. She has a history of postpartum anxiety that starts around the time her baby turns three months and lasts a couple months. This time around she is considering placenta encapsulation to try to ward off that experience.
She asked me what I knew about women's experiences with placenta encapsulation in her specific situation. Since we mostly talk and hear about women taking placenta capsules for the early postpartum period, I wanted to ask my clients what their experience had been and if anyone could relate to this woman's story. Below I've copied and pasted all the responses I received. Once again my amazing clients come through in a big way! You'll see that not everyone who responded specifically could relate to this mom's situation but everyone was very eager to share their personal experience.
Remember that time FIVE years ago when I was on the news? Wow I can't even believe that much time has passed. Eventually the video portion of the news story no longer worked but recently I was able to use some connections to get the video to work again! If you haven't even see it before... enjoy!
by Anne Ferguson
With over five years experience offering placenta encapsulation services I can safely say that 95% of the time when people, men and women alike, first hear of placenta encapsulation, their reaction is something along the lines of "eww, gross!" But quickly, most people come around when they hear of the benefits and especially when they hear testimonials from people who've actually tried this holistic approach to postpartum health.
Sometimes I hear from parents-to-be who want to try encapsulation but their partner is not on board. So I reached out to my client network and asked for thoughts from partners on their experience. I asked them "How did you feel about your partner trying placenta encapsulation when you first heard about it, and then how did the experience actually go?" and "What would you say to partners/family members who are skeptical, think it's gross, or not worth the money?"
Enjoy their responses below!
How did you feel about your partner trying placenta encapsulation when you first heard about it, and then how did the experience actually go?
"When I heard about placenta encapsulation I was a little taken aback by the thought of consuming your placenta but after reading about placenta encapsulation and the benefits one receives from doing this are rather alarmingly positive. I knew she had done her research and I supported her if this was something she thought would help her postpartum. I thought the experience was great and was happy to see my wife benefiting from the placenta pills she was taking."
Inspired by some feedback from a recent client, I wanted to write up my thoughts on placenta capsules as "magic" or as something that will always prevent postpartum depression and anxiety.
This client asked us to fill her capsules only half full because she is sensitive to medications, herbs, etc. Here is what she had to say a couple months after her baby was born:
"As a follow-up, if you remember you filled my capsules 1/2 way and I wanted to fill you in on my experience. I took one capsule a day post birth for about 3 or so weeks and we (hubby and I) could certainly tell the days when I took them vs the days when I forgot to take them. I am no longer taking them now, however I can tell you HUGE improvement with PP vs my first time around with first child. It was pure hell with PP. This time, hands down, way better. I still have PP and PP anxiety, however NOTHING compared to my previous experience. That said, THANK YOU, this changed my entire experience of being a mom and being able to remember what actually happened vs it being a blur and sadness."
by Anne Ferguson
The process of placenta encapsulation has been growing at a rapid rate in the last 5 years. Across the Twin Cities and beyond, all types of moms are choosing this ancient process to support themselves during the postpartum period in a natural way. We routinely work with moms who choose hospital birth, home birth, birth center birth, unmedicated birth, epidurals and planned cesareans. They all know that new parents need support in the weeks and months after having a baby and that their own placenta can offer some wonderful benefits to them when taken in capsule form.
As the process has grown in popularity, a huge number of people have started offering this service. Unfortunately, many of these providers have little training and may not be taking all of the necessary precautions.
At Bywater Birth, we've been encapsulating for a combined 5.5 years and we both did placenta encapsulation with our youngest children. This is our passion and it's our business. We take it very seriously! Anne is certified by the Association of Placenta Preparation Arts (www.placentaassociation.com) and our company policies and procedures are guided by the standards of this organization. We take safety seriously for our clients, of course, but also for ourselves.
Here's a checklist you can use to help you find a placenta encapsulation provider who will not only follow safe procedures but will also complete the process in a timely fashion. We recommend you take a look at websites and see which providers share pictures and information that promote the safe practices outlined in this post I wrote for encapsulators.
Here are some questions you can ask if you can't find these answers on the website of the person you are considering hiring for this service.
1. What training/certification and experience do you have?
2. What do you do if two placentas arrive on the same day? (We have two providers so we can maintain a quick turn around time and handle this type of situation easily. Some providers have two dehydrators but work on only one placenta at time and can safely work on two placenta in the same day if needed. This is acceptable when done carefully.)
3. Do you have a partner or back-up if I give birth on a day you aren't available?
4. What is your standard turn around time? (24-48 hours is standard. In rare cases 3 days might be acceptable.)
5. What do you use to sanitize all your equipment? (Hint if it's not "tons of bleach" or one of these approved chemicals they are not following best practices.) All equipment should be soaked in cool bleach water (10% solution) for 10 minutes. It can then be rinsed with hot water to neutralize the bleach.
6. What personal protective equipment do you wear? (The answer should be eye protection, a mask, gloves, an apron and something over the arms.
7. How do you sanitize the work space before you begin? At Bywater Birth we have special bleach wipes like they use in hospitals that we can wipe counters and sinks with.
8. What temperature do you set the dehydrator at? (For Traditional Method it should be at least 145 degrees and for Raw Start 160.)
9. How many hours after I call do you usually come pick it up? Encapsulators should give clear instructions on how clients should store the placenta until they come pick up. It must be put on ice in a cooler or in a fridge within 1-2 hours of birth but no more than 4 at the absolute most.
When done safely, placenta encapsulation is safe for both the consumer and the encapsulation provider. Is your placenta in your postpartum plan?
by Anne Ferguson
Placenta Encapsulation has grown a lot in popularity in the last few years. Six years ago when I gave birth to my second son it was an idea I heard about from my home birth midwives, but it wasn't a widely offered professional service. Now I estimate there are over 50 providers of this service in the Twin Cities alone!
Over the 4.5 years that I've been providing this service professionally, I've heard a lot of scary stories about the ways people are handling this process. I've compiled this list of tips for encapsulators to try to educate everyone a bit more on how to do this process safely.
Over the years I've tweaked and updated my own process as I've learned more and my certification with APPA (www.placentaassociation.com) earlier this year really reinforced that my procedures were sound and that this is a topic that deserves attention because this is a human organ we are talking about!
Here are my tips!
– Sanitizing all equipment is critical. Bleach is the best thing to use. Equipment should be soaked in a 10% bleach solution for 10 minutes. That means, if your sink holds 50 cups of liquid, you should put 45 cups of water in with 5 cups of bleach. 5 cups!!
– There really are no natural products that can be used as a substitute for bleach. Any other chemicals used for this purpose need to be on this approved list. They need to be effective against all blood borne pathogens, hep B, C, HIV, etc. There are wipes (like they use in hospitals) that can be used for wiping counters before and after the process.
– Counter space should be covered with a chux pad.
– Encapsulators need to wear full personal protective equipment (PPE). That means gloves, goggles/glasses, an apron, something to cover their arms, and a mask. This protects not only the encapsulator but also the client. Hair should be tied back, rings/jewelry removed, food, drink, children and pets kept away from the work space, etc. (Side note: When you know better you do better. I wasn't wearing a mask in this news story from four years ago and my forearms were exposed!)
– Raw encapsulation has grown in popularity but it is not safe from a food safety perspective to dehydrate at 118 degrees (the temperature above which something is no longer considered raw.) In my practice we do “raw start method” and will encapsulate without steaming the placenta first, but we dehydrate at 160 degrees.
– Bleach solutions deactivate over time. If someone is making a spray bottle of 10% bleach solution for spraying down counters or sinks, that bleach solution is only good for 24 hours.
– Hot water deactivates bleach. Bleach solutions should be made with cool water. After the bleach soak is done, you can rinse the equipment with hot water to deactivate the bleach then and get the equipment ready for the next client.
– The placenta must be 100% dry before it is ground into a powder. That means the pieces snap easily and have NO bend to them. If someone were to grind up pieces before they were fully dry that could easily lead to mold growing in the capsules over time. I dehydrate the traditional method for about 10-12 hours and raw start for up to 24 hours. To this end, it’s important to have a very sharp knife to slice pieces very thinly which allows them to dry properly.
– Placentas should be put on ice within 1-2 hours of the birth, but no longer than 4 hours. If a placenta is not kept cold until it is going to be worked on, it is not safe and cannot be encapsulated. A good cooler with a ton of ice can work just fine for the hours it will take for your specialist to arrive. Placentas are considered OK for up to 4 days after the birth, if kept in a fridge. However if someone knows they won’t be encapsulating right away, it might be best to put the placenta in the freezer. This adds an extra step of thawing though (in the fridge) which takes at least 24 hours.
– Moms benefit the most from having their capsules back to them as soon as possible, ideally within 48 hours of the birth. This allows them to start taking them before the big hormonal shift that happens around days 2-5. If an encapsulator is not going to be able to process the placenta in a timely fashion the responsible thing to do would be to find another person to provide this service. There are tons of people who are happy to help! Unfortunately I have heard dozens of stories of capsules not being delivered until 4, 5 or even more days at the birth. This is just not acceptable to me.
– Placenta tinctures should be made with 150 proof alcohol- Everclear works well.
If you are a provider of placenta encapsulation services, I hope this list helps you keep this practice safe for yourself and your clients. If you are someone thinking about this service, I hope you learned a lot about how serious this work should be taken. Stay tuned for my next post... "Is Placenta Encapsulation Safe? Tips for Choosing Your Provider."
Everyone once in a while, I let thoughts creep in... Thoughts like "What if Placenta Encapsulation (PE) really isn't all we say it is?" "What if the nay-sayers are right, that it is just a weird trend without true value?" "What if it is just a placebo effect?"
But then, I have an experience like I had a few weeks ago. A prospective client was asking for references. She specifically wanted to talk to some second times moms who did PE with baby #2 but not with baby #1. So, I sent out a quick email to my last 20 clients or so, many of whom I knew fit this description. Within 10 minutes, the responses started coming back, things like this:
"I had a mild case of the baby blues for three days (around days 4-6) and then have been almost completely fine the entire time so if she is looking for it for PPD, I can definitely share my experience. The only times I've had some emotional challenges besides those baby blues have been after very very tough nights with little sleep. I had a great experience and have a ton of capsules left because I only needed them for about 20 days. Things just leveled off so nicely (hormones etc...). "
"Hello! Yes, I fit that description. I did the encapsulation with my 3rd child but not the first two. Feel free to pass my information along to her."
"Go ahead and forward my info on! Worked great for me, thanks:)"
Within a couple hours I had four past clients willing to speak with this future client. Then I sent out another message saying "I have enough help, no need to worry about this now!" but continued to get more people willing to share their experience.
How's that for a testimonial? Besides my personal, positive experience with PE 5.5 years ago, I just love hearing all the feedback from my clients, which number well over 250 now. And maybe it is just a placebo effect, but that's OK with me because it sure seems to be effective!
(Side Note: Placenta Benefits Inc. is currently doing a placenta vs. placebo study with researchers at UNLV. I look forward to hearing those results when their study is complete, don't you?)
Here are what some of our past clients have to say about their experience with placenta encapsulation!
"I had post partum depression and low milk supply with my first 2 babies, so I decided to try placenta encapsulation with my third. My mood was much more even, I had plenty of breastmilk, and lots of energy to play with my older children. I believe in the benefits so much that I started encapsulating for other mamas!" - Natasha
"The best natural euphoria of my life!!!! I could feel it daily send me energy and positivity like no other after returning home from the hospital. I was sad to see my pills end!!! Wish I had it daily." -Jen
"The first few weeks postpartum baby was up every two hours nursing. It was only because of the placenta capsules that I was not a complete zombie during those long days. A must have!" -Cassie
"I noticed a huge difference from my first postpartum experience to my second where I encapsulated my placenta. I had way less blood loss and much faster healing time plus more energy even while figuring out how to juggle two kids!" -Laura
"I had bad baby blues, low supply milk and much anxiety and guilt with my first. With my second I decided to encapsulate my placenta to avoid all that. My PP recovery and experience was so different and so much easier than with my first. I did not experience the baby blues and did not have any supply issues. I was physically stronger and emotionally better. I am expecting my third and I am thinking about doing it again." -Ana
"I decided to do Placenta encapsulation for the birth of my second baby and I cannot tell you how beneficial and amazing it was. I had no baby blues, lots of energy, and felt awesome postpartum. I did not do this for the birth of my first child and it there was a significant difference. I would highly recommend this to any mother looking for post-partum support and I would recommend using Anne from Bywater Birth. She did a fabulous job, provided stellar service, and lots of support. Thank you, Anne!!" - Ann
by Anne Ferguson
In the last 2.5 years I've been blessed to share my love of placenta encapsulation with two news outlets. The first was a story done by Lindsay Seavert of WCCO here in the Twin Cities. She put together this really positive news story:
I was nervous about what angle they might take on this story, but I was pleased that it was an overall positive portrayal of this outside-the-mainstream practice. I figured if it could help even one mother do more research and learn about this option, then it was worth it.
More recently, Brianna Long, a reporter from a news station down in Rochester, MN contacted me to do a story. Click HERE to view that story.
I am thrilled that my clients felt strongly enough about their experience to go on TV (and the Internet!) and share with the world. I sometimes forget that this work I do every week is not typical, or considered normal, but I'm happy more and more woman are doing it!