Ohhhhh placentas. Yes, I said placentas. You know the organ that magically appears out of nowhere when a woman becomes pregnant, that attaches and grows in the uterus, connecting mother to baby and acting as the source of life and sustainability for the baby for the duration or pregnancy? Yeah, that’s the placenta.
What’s so special about the placenta?
In many cultures around the world, and even here in the United States, the placenta is seen as something sacred and beautiful. It is a precious organ that serves a very special purpose for a specific period of time. Many choose to honor the placenta, by a small or elaborate ceremony, by planting it in the ground under a tree to symbolize a memory, and some people consume it.
[insert record scratch]
Yes, I said some people consume it.
What is Placenta Encapsulation?
Placenta what, you ask? Placenta encapsulation. Placenta Encapsulation in Tulsa is a growing trend, and is also gaining more publicity throughout the country. In fact, Tulsa’s Channel 8 recently aired a story about Tulsa Placenta Encapsulation in February of 2014. Placenta Encapsulation is the practice of saving the placenta after delivery of the baby so it can be cleaned processed and placed into capsules that the mother can swallow. Reported benefits of consuming the placenta include increased energy and milk supply, faster recovery and mood stabilization.
As a member of the childbirth community in Tulsa, I can tell you more and more women are choosing this option and there are a growing number of professionals advertising themselves as placenta specialists who will provide this service to women. In an effort to get some good information out to the public, I decided to interview Taryn Goodwin CD(DONA), Certified Midwifery Assistant & Monitrice (OMA), Certified Dancing For Birth™ Instructor, Breastfeeding and Childbirth Educator of Oklahoma City. Taryn was the first placenta specialist in the state of Oklahoma and is a member of the board of contributors, mentor and the founder of The Association of Placenta Preparation Arts. Since I am not personally a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist, I thought I would do a Q&A with her to give you some quality information! Below, my questions are the headers in bold, and Taryn’s answers are italicized.
What are the benefits of PE?
In my practice, most mothers report an improved mood, increase in energy, better milk supply, more restorative sleep and improved healing. In the Selander, Jodi, et al. study “Human maternal placentophagy: A survey of self-reported motivations and experiences associated with placenta consumption.” 95% of participants had a “positive” or “very positive” experience with placentophagy, and ALL but two of the participants said they would use placenta again after a subsequent pregnancy.
Is PE safe?
For the vast majority of woman, when prepared by a well trained encapsulation provider the answer is yes. In some cases, where placentas are unsuitable for consumption (i.e.: placenta goes to pathology or mother had a uterine infection during birth) encapsulation is contraindicated.
How can i make sure my PES can be trusted to encapsulate my placenta? Ask her the following questions (adapted from http://findplacentaencapsulation.com/)
What is your experience level?
The specialist should clearly state when they started encapsulating and how long they have been actively pursuing education and knowledge in this field, including the dates and types of training and any certifications they have. The specialist should readily share how many placentas s/he has encapsulated. S/he should provide client testimonials you can review and referrals that you can contact directly if you wish.
What type of placenta encapsulation training do you have?
A well trained encapsulation specialist should know several different methods to safely prepare the placenta for consumption and be able to describe the pros/cons of each preparation method. Placenta encapsulation specialists should pursue independent training in accordance with the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 29 CFR 1090.1030. Placenta encapsulation specialists should have a food handlers card in good standing from their State Health Department.
What equipment do you use to dehydrate and powder the placenta?
The specialist should use a food grade dehydrator. Dehydration of the placenta cannot be properly accomplished in the oven because there is no air circulation or low-range temperature control. Some coffee grinders and blenders cannot be properly sanitized. The blade base must be fully immersed in bleach in order to be cleaned, not simply wiped or sprayed. A non-porous mortar & pestle is an acceptable alternative for pulverizing.
Is there any reason you might not be available to encapsulate my placenta when I call you?
The sooner the process is begun, the less risk there is for bacterial growth or contamination. Many PES are also doulas or midwives live an on-call lifestyle. They may be unavailable to pick up your placenta (or come to your home to begin the process) while attending a birth or may have to leave to attend a birth while your placenta is in process. They should have a plan in place for this eventuality. Encapsulation specialists should have reliable, experienced backup. They should provide the name and contact information of their backup.
How do you clean your equipment?
Bloodborne pathogens are highly contagious and the biggest cross contamination risk is inadequately disinfected equipment. Only an EPA-registered hospital grade disinfectant will adequately reduce risk. Equipment must be fully immersed, not sprayed. Essential oils, household hydrogen peroxide, sun bleaching and/or dishwashers (even on sanitize settings) do not provide sufficient disinfection. Disposable products should be used whenever possible. These products cannot be safely reused: plastic or wood cutting boards, gloves, dish sponges.
Will there be anything but placenta in my capsules?
Some specialists may include the dehydrated membranes or cord. You can choose to decline this if you prefer. If you choose TCM or “traditional” preparation, the industry standard is to NOT include the steaming herbs/foods (such as ginger) in the final pills. You should clarify this with your specialist as some do dehydrate the herbs/foods and powder them with the placenta. Be sure to clarify if your specialist will add any other herbs to your pills.
Where will my placenta be prepared?
Some specialists have a dedicated workspace either inside or outside their home. Others prepare the placenta in the client’s home kitchen. The specialist should be willing to provide a photo of their workspace if you request it.
Do you have a detailed written protocol that I can see?
A professional placenta specialist will have a detailed protocol (also called standard operating procedures) for each method of encapsulation s/he offers. A written protocol ensures that s/he provides consistent, reliable service. The protocol should be clear and concise so that you understand each step of the process.
What are your storage & transportation protocols?
The specialist should be able to provide a detailed description of proper storage guidelines for the placenta in order to maintain freshness and prevent bacterial growth. The specialist should have a clear protocol for how the placenta will be transported.
How soon after birth should I begin taking my capsules and how often/for how long?
Upon completion of the process, clients can start taking their capsules with meals. Dosage levels vary from provider to mother. Usually around 1-3 capsules 3x a day for the weeks following birth.
Are there any risks I should be aware of?
According to our review of the research and experiences, when the placenta is stored and prepared appropriately any risks are minimal. In 600+ placentas, I’ve yet to see a mother experience a complication from ingestion. I believe that this is due to our high standards and sanitation. However, in rare cases or with communicable diseases, risks can be present. We want the mother and her care provider to have a dialog about safety in these cases.
Find a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist in Tulsa
The following providers are listed as Placenta Encapsulation Specialists in the Tulsa Area: