It's a great idea! If you're hoping for a faster recovery from birth, a reduced risk of postpartum depression, and an abundant milk supply, consuming your placenta could be right for you. The anecdotal benefits are amazing and the risks are minimal BUT there are risks!
Don't worry, you're not the only one who's come across conflicting information about placenta encapsulation.
Transparency is really important to me. As a Certified Postpartum Placenta Specialist, this is my third year preparing placenta pills (just imagine cooking the same dish multiple times a week for three years!). I am in love with this work and it's vital that as long as our industry remains unregulated, someone champions for safer practices—and that someone may as well be me.
There are a lot of people out there that would like you to think placenta encapsulation is one of those "can't hurt to try" things but it just isn't. There are risks involved in having someone prepare your placenta for consumption. There are also ways to avoid the risks that I see other "professionals" refuse to do, so I intend to set things straight.
Placenta Encapsulation Risk #1: Improper handling and storage can result in food poisoning.
Your placenta professional should be well versed in food handling guidelines and provide you with instructions for safely packaging and storing your placenta.
Placenta Encapsulation Risk #2: Letting your placenta leave your care means you can't be sure it was handled safely, or that those pills you are receiving aren't somebody else's.
This stuff happens right here in Calgary. Placentas have been mixed up when a placenta encapsulator had more than one in her possession. Life happens and placentas get left out or stored in office fridges next to Bob's leftover Chow Mein, and labels get switched by the kids.
Only you, or someone close to you should be transporting your placenta. It should stay in your sight and in your care at all times until you get it to your home for preparation.
Placenta Encapsulation Risk #3: You have no idea how important cleanliness really is to your placenta encapsulator and her family when no one is looking.
Your placenta should be prepared in your home or in a space you provide. I've heard some horror stories about filthy homes from local doulas who delivered clients placentas to long time placenta encapsulators here in Calgary. A pretty photograph of her kitchen or "designated work space" on a good day doesn't mean that's the way things looked on the day you gave birth.
This one should probably be #1. You may be asking yourself why so many placenta encapsulators in Calgary are offering the service out of their home or their own space if it is not safe to do so. I've asked this same question myself and responses range from not wanting to be watched by the client to preferring to avoid child care expenses and working at their own convenience. Client safety isn't even a concern.
Placenta Encapsulation Risk #4: You could be exposed to blood borne pathogens such as Hepatitis C and HIV.
Without proper training and protocol, your placenta encapsulator could inadvertently be exposing you to illness and disease from a previous client.
Be sure your placenta professional has Bloodborne Pathogens Certification and a strict sanitization protocol that has been approved by their professional liability insurance provider and a reputable training organization such as ProDoula.
Placenta Encapsulation Risk #5: Your placenta pills could get lost.
I'm as shocked as you are! I recently had a client who said a Calgary placenta encapsulator mailed her placenta capsules to her and that they were lost in the mail for several weeks.
Don't mail your placenta to be encapsulated.
Don't accept having your placenta capsules mailed to you.
And seriously question the sanity of anyone who thinks mailing human organs is a good idea.
Talk about dangerous to postal workers and the general public should the package become damaged. Recommending that placentas be shipped is reckless.
Placenta Encapsulation Risk #6: Consuming raw organ meat can make you sick.
You may have noticed that some people offer raw preparation of placenta capsules. I highly recommend you avoid the raw method of placenta preparation. The risk of contracting a food borne illness through this method is very substancial. It is important that your placenta is steamed to a temperature high enough to eliminate bacteria. It should then be dehydrated at a temperature of 160 degrees to avoid bacterial growth while drying.
Placenta Encapsulation can be risk free and safe but only if it is done properly. Be sure to ask lot's of questions when choosing someone to encapsulate your placenta. Your health is important and your placenta is irreplaceable.