Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Happy Pills! Placenta Encapsulation

Encapsulation recipe and photos by Emma Kwasnica ©2009


The day after my daughter's birth, my husband prepared to steam and then dehydrate the placenta for encapsulation. This was done according to the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine - to be used for postpartum recovery for me. I ended up losing close to 1000 mL of blood, and the iron from the placenta is known to replenish your body and give you back energy. Because of this, we were all the more happy to have made the decision to encapsulate our baby's placenta.

The ginger, lemon and hot pepper (pictured above) are NOT for taste, but rather, are used to aid in the preservation process.

We encapsulated the placenta ourselves, but in many large cities in North America, you can hire a trained placenta encapsulation specialist to come to your home and do it for you. For more info on this see: PlacentaBenefits.info


If you would like to encapsulate entirely yourself, this is how we did it. I scoured research and came up with our recipe as a combination of all the possibilities I read about. Keep in mind that, according to the theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the person who is preparing the placenta really needs to be in a good head-space while they're working with it, as this can affect its potency.

Here is what you will need :
  • some slices of ginger root
  • half a lemon
  • a hot pepper
  • large cutting board
  • a cookie sheet + parchment paper (or aluminum foil, in a pinch)
  • a vegetable basket steamer (to go over a casserole of boiling water, one or two inches deep, no more, in case it boils up and over)
  • a mortar and pestle
  • food dehydrator or standard cooking oven (on the lowest setting possible, ideally 110°F - if you can't get it this low, keep the oven door cracked slightly for the duration of the drying out process - you can stick a wooden spoon in the door to hold it ajar as we did)
  • empty vegan capsules, size "00" 150-pack (you can get these at your local health food store)
  • glass jar for storage

Store capsules in the fridge (into the freezer over long-term) and take 2 capsules, 3 times a day for the first 2-3 weeks (to be taken with white wine, if you like). Then as needed after that, whenever you feel tired or moody. Do NOT take if you have a cold, flu, mastitis or other sickness or fever (or night sweats).

Start prepping your placenta ASAP after the birth (or at least get it into the fridge after the birth - you can leave babe attached to it up to 4 hours, but no more, before beginning prep or refrigerating it). If you wish to have a lotus birth (allowing the placenta and umbilical cord to detach from baby naturally) placenta encapsulation is not possible. With lotus birth, the placenta must be treated during the lotus birth process and is no longer able to be consumed.

Gently wash the excess blood off the placenta. Cut off the cord, and tuck the placenta inside the membranes. Place it inside the vegetable steamer basket, over a casserole pan of 1-2" deep of lightly boiling water (not full-on, rolling boil).

Throw in some ginger root slices, lemon slices and the pepper (either in with the placenta -or- into the water).

Put the lid on top and steam for 15 minutes, then flip over and steam for 15 on the other side (or until no liquid comes out when pricked with a fork). The placenta will shrink down substantially in this process.

Place placenta onto a sterilized cutting board (vinegar and Grapefruit Seed Extract will do the trick for sterilization). Using a sterilized very sharp knife, cut the placenta into 1/8" strips (think: beef jerky). Very thin.

Place strips into the dehydrator, or if using a standard oven, place strips on foil on cookie sheet and put sheet into oven. The idea is to simply dry the placenta out slowly - not to cook it.

Continue until placenta strips are completely dried-out (brittle). This may take 8 or more hours.

Grinding (allow at least 2 hours for grinding by hand with a M&P). Break up slices of placenta into small pieces, and crush them into a fine powder with the mortar and pestle. You can use a coffee grinder for this part, but according to TCM, there is too much "energy" created when you grind the placenta in this way - plus your coffee may taste like liver for some time if you do!

Put the ground/crushed powder into the capsules (this is a bit awkward at first, but you quickly get the hang of scooping with and marrying up such tiny pill halves).

Place capsules into a glass jar, and then into the fridge.

Yield: 80-150 placenta capsules (each capsule containing about 800-1000 mg of dried placenta powder)

Ideally, you want to begin consuming your "happy pills" on or before Day 3 postpartum, when hormones flood (as well as leave rapidly) your system, when your milk comes in, and when the "baby blues" can rear their ugly head...

The following are photos from my most recent placenta encapsulation.



before steaming




after steaming




Very thinly sliced and ready to be dehydrated
We used our oven, and because it doesn't go lower than 170°F, we did the wooden spoon trick, and held the door ajar throughout the entire drying-out process.




My husband lovingly ground up the dehydrated placenta by hand (mortar and pestle). It took slightly more than 2 hours to grind all the dehydrated placenta pieces. About one-third of the powder it generated is shown here, and I was able to get about 100 pills (packed right full) out of my placenta.




this is me encapsulating it by hand




Hooray for "happy pills!" To be stored in the fridge (or freezer), and taken with white wine - 2 at a time, 3 times a day, for the first two weeks postpartum; then 2 at a time, as needed, anytime after that.

~~~~


Emma Kwasnica can be reached here. She runs the gentle parenting closed (private) group, Informed Choice: Birth & Beyond, that you can request to be a part of by writing to her with the reasons you'd like to be a part.


33 comments:

  1. Neat! Thank you for sharing that process.

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  2. I'm really interested in this process. Do you feel it helped you? I feel I'm at high risk for postpartum depression and have heard this can be helpful. Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. It's Very easy to do. Here is a video on how I did it myself

      http://youtu.be/bHIVhqf0kIc

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  3. I've always found it interesting, and I definitely like the "take with white wine" part, but as a nearly-vegetarian, I don't know if I can do this, psychologically speaking. I'd have been an awful Fear Factor contestant ;)

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  4. my [amazing] husband encapsulated my placenta after my second daughter was born at home. unfortunatly, i was unable to take the capsules. i read that you should not take them if you have a fever or infection (i had a uterine infection due to piece of retained placenta), then i started an SSRI antidepressant for ppd, and i wasn't confident that the placenta would not interact negatively with the drug. i'd like to try again with this baby (due in september), but i don't know if it's worth the effort.

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  5. I had severe PPD after my first, so I encapsulated my own using a very similar recipe and process after my second baby. I am so glad that I gave it a try because the differences in recovery and postpartum period were night and day.

    Now, I encapsulate placentas for other new moms in my area who are not interested in doing it themselves and no one they are close to are comfortable doing it for them either. I love offering this service as do other independent placenta service providers. The placenta nourished the baby and can nourish the mother too.

    Another source to help locate someone in your area who offers placenta medicine (including encapsulation, tinctures, smoothies, etc) is:

    http://www.avoidthebabyblues.com

    Cheers to placentas!

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  6. I love my happy little placenta pills. I am so grateful to my precious baby for making that magical organ and allowing me to benefit from its consumption. My speedy recovery, energy, and abundant milk supply was my way of giving it back to my sweet babe. I have very fond memories of seeing my husband labor over mortar and pestle to grind the dehydrated placenta. A beautiful ritual for us to share as a family. Thank you for sharing your experience!

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  7. I loved my placenta experience! I didn't encapsulate the entire thing though, I made stew out of part of it and ate another portion raw. The part that was dehydrated for my placenta was kept in powder form and the rest was encapsulated for storage in the freezer.

    I also had an abdominal abscess from my c-section. I continued to ingest my placenta until well after I was fully recovered from my abscess. It was worth it. My milk supply was amazing. My PPD never showed up. After my first two births I had PPD, and low milk supply.

    We used the same recipe as posted here. My Mother took care of everything for me. I feel so blessed to have had her. I will forever be grateful for this wonderful and amazing gift my body and my child gave me - the placenta. ♥

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  8. I offer this service and my clients RAVE about how it makes them feel!

    Yes it is fine for vegetarians and vegans, nothing died in the process to provide this gift.

    The benefits of placenta encapsulation include:
    Decrease in baby blues and postpartum depression.
    Increase and enrich breastmilk.
    Increase in energy.
    Decrease in lochia, postpartum bleeding.
    Decrease iron deficiency.
    Decrease insomnia or sleep disorders.

    The placenta's hormonal make-up is completely unique to the mother. No prescription, vitamin or herbal supplement can do what one placenta pill can. How amazing is that?

    No you can't take it *while* you have a fever but you can take it after your fever is gone.

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    Replies
    1. Is there any time limit for going through this process? My daughter will be 6 months soon and I have my placenta in the freezer. We're saving it so that we can plant a tree but now I'm feeling interested in taking the pills too. Can I do both? And would I still benefit from it as for an increase in
      My milk supply and an increase in energy?

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  9. I wish I had done this. I lost over a liter of blood with my second child's birth, and was on bedrest for a week and modified bedrest for an additional 6 weeks. I could have used the iron. And the sucky thing is, I even knew about placentophagia, but I didn't know about encapsulating it. I couldn't bear to eat it raw, but I could have handled the capsules. Live and learn, I guess.

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  10. I encapsulated my placenta after my third birth. I have a question though--if you are not using anything added (like the lemon, ginger, and pepper), do you need to steam the placenta first? Will it retain more nutrients if you don't steam it? I've heard from other sites that it is unnecessary, so I wondered what the benefit of steaming it is.

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  11. I do this in Mesa AZ for those in the city....
    www.anaturalblessing.webs.com
    Amazing amazing stuff here!

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  12. I am so glad to see more mamas are doing this. I researched this after I became pregnant with my third child. I'd had horrific PPD with my first two. Surprisingly, the recipe you stated is exactly the one I found as well :)

    I wasn't able to encapsulate the placenta myself after the birth, however. Between the new baby and caring for my other two children it didn't happen. That's why I help other mamas encapsulate their placentas now. I'm at http://placentgirls.blogspot.com

    Thanks for your article! I love to see others doing this. We'll bring it back!

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  13. Just curious to why you can't have it when you have a fever or night sweats? Thanks!

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  14. I've done this with all three of my births and took some pretty neat pictures... do you need any additional "views" of the process?

    Cheers, and good for you! I always get people looking at me like I have 2 or 3 heads when I finally tell them what I did with my placentas!

    And this recipe is exactly the one I used as well. I didn't know that the ginger etc were for the preservation process... I thought they were to mask the smell of steamed placenta! We used a coffee grinder for the powdering process and have not noticed any odd energy. My coffee grinder and I are best friends so maybe that worked for me! (Of course it was a separate grinder from the one for coffee...!)

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  15. Danielle NethertonSeptember 14, 2011 4:16 PM

    I can't wait to do this with my next child!!! It sounds so amazing you wonder why WOULDN'T you do it!?!?

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  16. Curious... Why take the pills with white wine? (either way, yay!) ;D

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  17. Thanks so much for posting this and letting more women know about the benefits of Placenta Encapsulation.
    I started offering this service to my Labor and Postpartum Clients a few months ago. I saw such a dramatic difference in who their hearts, minds and bodies transitioned from birth into postpartum! It made me a true believer! The benefits for baby are there as well. You can actually make a homeopathic remedy for baby from the placenta tincture. It can be used when baby is fussy or teething or not feeling well. Got a book titled "Placenta: The Gift of Life" through Midwifery Today. Lots of amazing information and additional recipes that can be made from placentas.

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  18. Katherine said...
    my [amazing] husband encapsulated my placenta after my second daughter was born at home. unfortunatly, i was unable to take the capsules. i read that you should not take them if you have a fever or infection (i had a uterine infection due to piece of retained placenta), then i started an SSRI antidepressant for ppd, and i wasn't confident that the placenta would not interact negatively with the drug. i'd like to try again with this baby (due in september), but i don't know if it's worth the effort.

    Katherine, I'm not a Dr, but any infection you got after the placenta left your body would not effect the pills. As for the affecting of your meds, really, it is just a nutritious meal(not a drug).

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  19. I finally got my son's placenta encapsulated. I kept everything frozen, but it's been 8 weeks since his birth. What would be the best dosage at this point? I'm not really having any PPD, just the usual grumpies when the sun isn't out and some short temper issues. Thanks for any input. ♥

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  20. Thanks for the step-by-step directions! In my area, encapsulation runs anywhere from $250-300. I'm 8 1/2 months pregnant with my first and plan to encapsulate my placenta on my own due to costs.

    I'm also a TCM student. From what I have learned so far, the reason you can't take the placenta when you have a fever or night sweats is because the placenta is mainly a yang tonic (also used for general energy and blood nourishment). If you were to take the placenta with those conditions, you run the risk of making it worse.

    Yang (as in Yin-Yang) is the warm, expansive, energetic portion of energy, versus Yin, which is cool, contractive, and slow. Imagine a pot of water (yin) on a fire (yang). During birth, you lose a lot of yin (fluids, blood, sweat). Consuming placenta turns up the fire, which in turn, evaporates more of your body's water. Having a fever or nightsweats turns up the fire even more, putting you at risk for "burning the pot", your body.

    I recommend that if you're interested in finding out more about the TCM indications and contraindications of placenta, you ask your acupuncturist/herbalist. The Chinese name for it is Zi He Che. Placenta does some amazing things and an acupuncturist would be able to help you figure out which herbs or preparation would best suit your particular needs. Every body is different, and there is no "one size fits all" for post-partum treatments.

    Sorry this was so long, but I could go forever! Good Luck everyone!

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  21. Encapsulating your own placenta is kind of a cool thing. Like holy almost - maybe I'm all postpartum hippy (not maybe - probably!) - but my baby laid on that, growing! And now I get to benefit from it. Very cool.

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  22. Fabulous!! I was going to do some research into how to do this myself, but I'm glad I found this post! I am planning on doing this myself postpartum with a friend to come and help - the placenta encapsulation is $250 plus tax in my area! Yikes!

    I would like to know why it has to be taken with white wine? I'm not much of a drinker and I would prefer NOT to drink so early after a baby is born and breastfeeding. Is there anything else I can drink it with that is similar without the alcohol content?

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  23. Other than the iron, does anyone know if there have been published studies that determined what else is in the placenta and why it would be beneficial? Of course it would vary in quantity from woman to woman, but if it is this beneficial, there must be some science behind it. Most of the hormones in the placenta are protein-bound, not steroid hormones, and therefore would denature upon consumption due to stomach acids and therefore not transferred through ingestion. I would be very curious to learn more about how it works, though I fully believe all of your stories that it did work for you.

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  24. I wish I'd known about this for my son. Looking forward to trying with my bump :)
    Quick question - could you remove the capsule stage & eat it like jerky?!

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  25. I'm pretty sure no one said you "have" to take them with wine, I think it was more of a friendly suggestion...like, drink up girlfriend, you'll feel better! I took mine with water but I wish I had thought to up the ante. I don't think a few swallows a day with taking the capsules can hurt anything, plus alcohol is known for making milk flood in. If I'm wrong and there is some increased benefit in mixing wine and placenta, I'd love to know!

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  26. I love this and think its an amazing gift. I was told by my first daughters pediatrician to drink 1 guiness extra stout a day to increase milk supply.
    I an not a fan of that dark a beer or Ale, but turns out its the hops that help so if you want to avoid the alcohol content ,which is said to help too, just incorporate hops into your diet, also.....

    IVe read several places that ginseng is a item that can slow milk production, will using it during steaming hurt?

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  27. I just finished using this recipe for my own placenta encapsulation. My daughter is 3 weeks tomorrow. I wasn't sure if it would work, but having been a PPD (UK: PND) sufferer before, I was ready to try just about anything to prevent a repeat.

    I believe it works because I went off of the placenta caps for about 3 days and I completely fell apart during that time. I wasn't coping well on 2-3 hours sleep and was exhausted, very irritable, and felt overwhelmed by my responsibilities. I got right back on them and nearly solo’d my daughter’s first growth spurt triumphantly. I had gone off of them because an unpleasant side effect I experienced was that whenever I had a little gas and I’d burp, it would taste like chicken marrow (seriously, does everything taste like chicken?). However, when taken with a meal, I didn't experience that.

    Maybe its placebo effect and possibly not. The iron content is undeniable as during preparation after dehydrating the placenta down, while grinding, you can smell the iron. But I can attest to feeling much more calm, energetic, balanced, and being able to cope with sleep deprivation while meeting my family’s needs while I take them. I even feel pleasant, assured, and confident. I still take every day, day by day… set myself realistic goals for what I can accomplish while breastfeeding and seeing to the needs of my newborn. And those goals have been achievable and overall, I’m feeling a great deal of satisfaction with this experience—it’s as though I’m finally getting to have the newborn/motherhood experience that I've always wanted.

    And I wanted to add a few comments about the recipe itself, for those reading up on how to do this.

    First off, after steaming down the placenta, when slicing it down into strips before drying, definitely cut these slices as slim as possible. This makes grinding it down much easier. I had a few chunkier bits that were very difficult to grind down. Plus, I imagine that it’ll dry faster.

    While my husband did support me in doing my own placenta encapsulation, he wasn't interested in being around while I did my ‘Project: Witch-doctor’… so on my own, on the first day, I did get the placenta steamed down, sliced up and dehydrated on the first day home. After that, for the first couple of weeks, I kept the dehydrated bits in a Ziploc baggie and did a couple of ‘rounds’ of capsule filling as I could get to it, as needed before I ran out of caps. The grinding part does take a significant amount of time, especially if you’re using Traditional methods of mortar and pestle rather than a food processor.

    For filling capsules, I found a product called ‘The Capsule Machine’ that made that part of the process very quick and easy.

    I do recommend trying this out for yourself, especially if you suffered from PPD in the past.
    Thank you for posting the recipe! It’s made a significant difference to me!

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  28. Do you have to steam the placenta before dehydrating in the oven?

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    1. No you don't have to steam it - fresh prep method (I mostly do these) = no steaming

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  29. I do raw method as well, no steaming and I don't use anything except the placenta, no herbs, etc.

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  30. I've followed your directions twice and I love it!
    This last pregnancy I was iron-deficiency anemic and then had post partum haemorrhage and after 18 days my iron levels were all back to normal and my energy has ben great!

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