Placenta Encapsulation FAQ
What do I need to take with me to my birthing location in order to be prepared for the encapsulation process?
1. A cooler to properly store the placenta during your stay &/or transport home.
2. Your birth plan with one line regarding wanting to take your placenta home with you.
3. Payment - it is just easier to have this ready in your hospital bag then to have to worry about it after your birth :)
What size/type cooler should I bring with me to my birthing location?
I recommend a medium sized, hard sided, cooler. Soft sided coolers tend to leak over time, unless they have a hard plastic insert (those work without leaking), & smaller coolers (personal lunch sized) often are not large enough to accommodate the packaging hospitals use. Styrofoam disposable ones also are suitable & can be thrown away after use if that is preferred. Packaging ranges from your placenta being double bagged to being placed in a small round plastic container, large plastic (think jumbo ice cream tub) container, to square/round flat containers that are more of a tray with a snap on cover. Often the packaging at hospitals varies and there is no set type to expect, as hospital staff will just grab what is readily available. I bring an Igloo Playmate cooler with me for pick ups and it works well in most situations. The Igloo Ice Cube cooler also works well. Please do not feel that you need to buy anything special, as you most likely already have a cooler around your house that will work perfectly. If you do use a personal sized cooler and you find the container will not fit you can always ask hospital staff to simply double bag the placenta for you so it will fit properly.
What is proper placenta care & handling for encapsulation?
As quickly as possible after the birth (at least within the first four hours after birth), the placenta should be placed into a food-grade container, sealed tightly and refrigerated or placed on ice. If longer please contact me ASAP so we can determine if it is still safe to encapsulate/consume.
For Hospital Births:
It is best to never let the placenta leave your site. Hospital staff are very busy and can easily be distracted and could accidentally discard your placenta or send it to pathology where it could be ruined for encapsulation. Your placenta is not their highest priority. Most hospitals in the greater Sacramento area will accommodate your wishes to take the placenta home by preparing it for transport, but once packaged they will not accept any responsibility for proper storage of it during your stay.
I recommend that either your spouse/partner, family member, birthing partner, or doula is in charge of the placenta once it is birthed so that it is properly stored and not lost or damaged.
PLEASE BE SURE TO BRING A COOLER WITH YOU TO THE HOSPITAL. This will ensure you can properly store your hospital packaged placenta following your birth. Medium sized, soft sided, or Styrofoam coolers all work well.
Hospital staff will package the placenta inside some sort of container or bag that is sealed. This container/bag may also be labeled and/or placed inside of a bio-hazard bag. Once the placenta is packaged by hospital staff, please leave it in that packaging to avoid any cross-contamination or a mess.
As soon as possible, place the packaged placenta in your cooler and then add ice to ensure it will stay cold. As long as the container/bag that the placenta is in has ice near it, the placenta will keep until you can take it home and get it into the refrigerator. If you have a private room & private refrigerator you can keep your placenta in there if the container fits until it can be taken home. Ideally, you do NOT want the hospital to store your placenta for you! This is the number one way a placenta accidentally gets lost/ruined/sent to pathology. However, storage policy varies per birthing location & even by who happens to be on staff during your birthing time, so some area hospitals will offer/require that they store the placenta for you. Your confirmation email will give you more information on hospital policies regarding your particular birthing location.
If you forget a cooler simply take the tub that you are given in your hospital room (washing/baby bath tub) and fill it with ice to place the packaged placenta on the ice. As long as it is kept cool and not allowed to spoil it will be fine until you can take it home and get it into the refrigerator. Placentas can be kept on ice/refrigerated for a few days before encapsulation if necessary without any spoilage, but the sooner it can be prepared for encapsulation the better.
The packaged placenta should be stored in a cooler with ice or refrigerator until I arrive for pick up.
For Birthing Center Births:
At our local area birthing centers the midwives are very kind and will double bag the placenta for you, so you can promptly take it home with you, to be refrigerated.
For Home Births:
Please double bag the placenta in two gallon sized zip lock bags. Within the first hour or so after the birth (up to four hours at most) be sure that the placenta is either placed on ice or placed in your refrigerator.
Will the hospital release my placenta to me?
The hospitals in the greater Sacramento area all have policies that allow for a mom to take her healthy placenta home with her for any reason (cultural, religious, nutrition, etc.) However, some hospitals are much more placenta friendly then others and some staff will not be the be the friendliest or most supportive in letting you take home your placenta with you. The way to ensure the best placenta release outcome is to be well prepared with all of the information contained on my website, have a plan to store your released placenta, and stay calm and friendly when discussing your wishes. I have encapsulated placentas from all of our area's hospitals, so if you have specific questions/concerns regarding your particular hospital for delivery please contact me and we can discuss this topic further.
Most hospitals will require a release of liability waiver to be signed, but do not be surprised if a particular hospital does not require any special paperwork to release a placenta. Often it depends on who is on staff during your birthing time whether or not a form is required.
You should tell your doctor ahead of time that you plan to take your placenta home and write it in your birth plan. This way if there is an issue, you can deal with it before you are in labor. I also recommend that you mention your intentions again upon admission and then again once the placenta is birthed. Be friendly and cooperative when discussing your intentions to take home your placenta.
You do not need to share with your OB or hospital staff what you intend to do with the placenta, just that you would like to have it after your baby is born & that it is not to be treated with any chemicals. If you run into troubles having your placenta released be sure to mention that you have a "profound belief in taking your placenta home with you". All area greater Sacramento area hospitals do have placenta release policies in place. The confirmation email you receive will have any details needed regarding your particular birthing location. However, if you have questions regarding a particular hospital feel free to ask me and we can discuss this in more detail.
What if they want to take my placenta to pathology?
In rare cases your physician may feel that your placenta needs to go to pathology. If this does happen ask if they can do a visual exam in the delivery room instead, or see if a small piece sent to pathology would suffice instead of the entire placenta. If your physician feels the whole placenta needs to be examined in pathology unfortunately it will no longer be suitable for encapsulation/consumption due to cross contamination. Please be aware that a small percentage of placentas actually need to go to pathology in their entirety. Most doctors will try working with you so everyone gets what they need. Placentas that are sent to pathology for examination are NOT able to be encapsulated, so this is something that should be avoided if at all possible.
Please note that some area hospitals offer food safe examinations & food safe storage in their refrigerators when they know placenta encapsulation is desired. Please let the staff know your intentions and ask if these are options if pathology is mentioned.
What if I am induced/have a medicated birth/have a cesarean section? Can I still encapsulate my placenta?
Yes, yes, and yes. Your particular birth choices/outcomes do not affect whether or not your placenta can or cannot be encapsulated. I have encapsulated many placentas birthed by mothers who received epidurals, IV pain medications during labor, and had cesarean sections.
What if I am opting for delayed cord clamping? Can I still encapsulate my placenta?
What if I am opting for cord blood banking/donation? Can I still encapsulate my placenta?
Yes, as long as you are opting for traditional cord blood banking only and not placenta blood banking. You will need to check with the company you are working with for their instructions.
What if I am option for tissue banking? Can I still encapsulate my placenta?
If only the cord &/or part of the placenta is being banked then yes. If the entire placenta is being banked, then no.
What if I give birth prematurely?
Premature birth does not automatically determine your placenta being unfit for encapsulation and I have encapsulated numerous preterm placentas. I have found that most area doctors will try to still accommodate your wishes to take your placenta home with you and will try to either do a blood test, send only a piece of placenta to pathology, or will only do a bed-side visual examination in order to not have to send the entire placenta to pathology. However, in some cases the placenta legitimately does need to be sent to pathology in order to determine possible preterm cause. Ultimately it is up to the decision of your doctor as to whether or not your placenta will be released or not.
What if there is meconium staining?
Previously it was thought that meconium was sterile, but new research is coming out showing that it is not, and the bacteria present is from your own natural flora. Due to me preparing following USDA food standards and the traditional method, with heat applied, meconium is not a problem and does not make the placenta unfit for encapsulation.
What if I get a fever in labor?
Fever does not always equal infection, and is most commonly associated with epidurals given during labor. If you have a fever for only a few hours before birth then it is unlikely that the placenta is infected in any way. Your care provider can also determine if true infection is suspected by how the placenta looks, feels, and smells. Some area hospitals will also provide testing if they want to rule out infection, but inspection without testing is what is most common. Historically my clients that have been told a fever was associated with infection ended up having clear lab test results two days postpartum and the placenta was always able to be encapsulated following the traditional method without any ill effects. True infection, that renders the placenta unusable, has not been common in my years of practice and when it does occur there is no question that the placenta needs to be discarded. If you have a fever question following your birth please contact me with details and we can go from there with the best plan of action.
What if my placenta has calcification, or the doctor says it is "old"?
Calcification, in any amount, is a variation of normal and does not make the placenta unfit for encapsulation.
What is the ideal time frame for encapsulation?
When possible the encapsulation process should begin within 72 hours of the birth. The placenta should be stored in a cooler with ice or in the refrigerator until I arrive.
If it is not possible to start the process within the first few days following birth, the placenta should be frozen. Double-bag the placenta in gallon-sized zip lock freezer bags. The placenta must be completely thawed before encapsulation, which will take at least 24-48 hours in the refrigerator. Please contact me regarding best storage options for your time frame.
Placentas should not be frozen, thawed, and then refrozen.
Where do you pick up?
I am able to pick up from your home or can meet a close family member or friend outside of the hospital.
How soon after I text you will you pick up?
I always try to pick up sooner then later, but have to schedule pick ups according to my current client load and family obligations at the time of your birth. I usually am able to pick up the same day contacted or the day after, but in some cases it has to be the second day after being contacted. Once I receive your text that you have birthed I will work with you to schedule a pick up time & place that is convenient for everyone.
What if you are on vacation or it is a holiday?
If I am ever unavailable for more then a day or two I always email any clients currently on my calendar with EDDs that may be affected with special instructions. I usually take a summer and winter vacation for about four days, so little impact, if any is felt by clients who may birth while I am away.
I always take all the major holidays off to spend with my family. In addition I also always take off the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, & New Years Eve. If you birth on a holiday please text me and we can still go from there to schedule pick up.
If I am ill when you contact me following your birth I will always let you know I am unavailable, but will schedule pick up as soon as possible; usually the next day or the day following.
I work extremely hard to keep my clients well informed of any changes in my availability.
How/when will I receive the finished capsules?
Finished capsules are mailed out via priority mail within 24-72 hours of pick up. You will receive a text from me upon your finished capsules mailing out to you. This serves both as an update and as a reminder to check your mail box the following day. Weekends & holidays may add additional time to their delivery & I am not responsible for any postal delays. All packages mail out with delivery confirmation and insurance, so if you do not receive them the following day of mailing please text me and your package status can be looked up. Sometimes, though rare, postal delays can and do happen, but the packages always are delivered within a day or two. In hundreds of packages none have ever been lost.
How long can a placenta be stored in the freezer before encapsulation?
Placentas that have been properly frozen (double-bagged and protected from freezer-burn) can be encapsulated up to six months after the birth (even longer in some cases). Has your placenta been frozen for a year or more? No worries. I can evaluate your defrosted placenta to see if it is fit for encapsulation, however I do not guarantee results, only provide the service. I have encapsulated placentas frozen long term (over a year) and the moms still benefited greatly from their placenta capsules, so please do not hesitate to contact me because you think it has been too long.
When you have recovered from childbirth, you can even freeze the capsules and save them for future difficult transitions, such as the weaning of your child and menopause.
What if I am a vegetarian/vegan?
Not a problem and in fact many of my placenta encapsulation clients are vegetarian/vegan. I use only vegetarian capsules that do not contain animal gelatin.
Are herbs included in the finished capsules?
No. Your capsules are 100% your placenta. It is recommended that if a mother needs herbal supplementation it is done separately so proper dosages can be maintained.
What if I want a Lotus Birth?
A lotus birth is when the placenta is left attached to the baby until it detaches on its own, generally after several days. In lotus birth, it is common to salt or otherwise help the placenta dry out more quickly. While lotus birth is a beautiful ceremony honoring the connection between placenta and baby, it renders the placenta unsuitable for consumption if done in this traditional manner. However, you may still be able to have a lotus birth and encapsulate your placenta if you preform it using this trick from Gloria Lemay, though concerns regarding this method are cold transferring to baby and keeping placenta at food safe temperature.
LOTUS Birth with PLACENTOPHAGY: buy a new thermal lunch bag with a zipper closing around the top. Buy six freezer cold packs that will fit well into the thermal lunch bag. Have two packs in the freezer at all times. Soon after the placenta is birthed, create a little mini-fridge for it by putting one frozen pack on the bottom of the bag, then the placenta, then the second frozen pack and, then, do up the zipper with just the cord coming out of the corner of the zipped up bag. As soon as the cord separates (typically day 4 or 5), dehydrate and encapsulate the red, meaty parts from the maternal side of the placenta. You’ll know the placenta has been kept fresh by the smell i.e. it should smell like fresh meat.
You can also preform a modified lotus birth by keeping the placenta connected to the baby for up to three or four hours. This would give the baby a gentle transition to the world, and the placenta would still be fit for consumption after this amount of time without having to follow the above steps. Do not exceed four hours before separating the placenta and refrigerating it if you do not follow the above steps.
How do I know I will not receive someone else's placenta?
Impossible. I take great care to keep my placenta encapsulation service the safest available. Only one placenta is ever prepared at a time, so there is never a chance of an accidental switch or any cross contamination of any kind. All of my materials used are either disposable or thoroughly sanitized and disinfected according to federal and state standards.
What type of supplies are used and how are they sterilized?
The supplies used during the placenta encapsulation process are all stainless steel, food grade plastic, or disposable. Everything is thoroughly washed with soap and hot water and then sanitized in bleach solution. I follow the same guidelines for cleanliness and sanitation that are used in food service establishments and small laboratories. I prepare in a dedicated work space separate from my home kitchen/living environment, that I like to call my Placenta Workshop.
How many capsules will I receive?
Every placenta is different, but the average results in approximately 100+ capsules.
How should I take my placenta capsules?
You will receive a detailed recommended dosage card along with your finished placenta capsules for you to keep and refer back to.
How long should I take my placenta capsules for?
I recommend that a mother takes her capsules for the first few weeks postpartum at least, but it is best to continue taking them until they are gone. Some moms do set a few aside for future transitions that they feel they would benefit from taking their capsules during, such as returning to work, future moves, travel away from baby, start of preschool/kindergarten, major illness, etc.
When should I not take my placenta capsules?
If you develop an infection such as mastitis, flu, or a common cold with fever it is recommended that you discontinue use until the illness/infection clears. Once symptoms subside you can start taking your placenta capsules again.
How should I store my placenta capsules?
After the encapsulation process is completed your placenta capsules will be placed in a sealed jar and are very shelf-stable if kept in a dry, cool dark place, such as a cupboard. To help you to remember to take them, you may decide to store them with any supplements you may take, such as your prenatal vitamins. Placenta capsules do not need to be refrigerated or stored in the freezer to maintain freshness, though some clients prefer this. If this option is preferred, placenta capsules may be taken directly from the refrigerator/freezer and please be sure they are stored in a tightly sealed container to not be exposed to excess humidity.
I have read online that there is a different process to encapsulate a placenta, called Raw Method Encapsulation. Do you offer this option also?
I personally specialize in the Traditional Method (based on Traditional Chinese Medicine/TCM) that has been used for centuries and offers more of a "slow and steady" building of energy for the postpartum mother. I feel that this method better serves the new mother over the course of her entire postpartum period.
With the Raw Method moms usually report a higher burst of energy initially after placenta capsules are taken, which sometimes may lead to a new mom over doing it a bit, instead of using the time and her energy to rest and heal. This "jittery" energy, from capsules prepared using the Raw Method, can even lead to moms "feeling off" or overwhelmed and can be intense enough for them to feel as though their capsules are of no benefit during this precious time period.
Some additional compelling reasons why I practice the traditional method of placenta encapsulation are:
- Most placentas are born via the birth canal exposing it to bacteria, including maternal fecal matter. The steaming process helps to kill off this bacteria and can help protect against any potential illnesses from bacteria allowed to culture on the placenta before encapsulation. According to food safety standards, the dehydration process alone does not kill off bacteria that can culture prior to encapsulation.
- 5000 years of experience shows that the TCM method of preparations works to create a potent placenta medicine through some form "cooking". Steaming of the placenta is believed to help balance the cold energy by infusing it with warmth. This warming energy (yang) is believed to be very healing during the postpartum period, balancing out the cold energy (yin) created by the empty space left behind in the mother's uterus following birth. By infusing the placenta with the warm energy provided by heat the carefully steamed/prepared placenta is believed to help restore, nourish, and balance the mother's body during the postpartum period.
- All other (pre-industrial) cultures with a tradition of placenta consumption use some form of cooking, curing, or tincturing, except when immediately used to curb bleeding during the birthing time.
- Cooking does not destroy the beneficial hormones, and actually may make them more available to the mother when consumed.
- Taking a piece of raw placenta in the cheek to stop postpartum hemorrhage is different then using placenta medicinally long-term.
What do I need to know about my placenta tincture?
In addition to your placenta capsules you will also receive a placenta tincture. Your tincture is truly an added bonus! Placenta tinctures can be used in addition to and long after your capsules are gone, during times of trauma, transition, or emotional distress. Your placenta tincture is made by tincturing a small amount of the placenta in a high grade alcohol (vodka) & will be ready for use when your baby is six weeks old. It is recommended to allow the placenta to steep for at least six weeks before use. Shaking it periodically will help it steep thoroughly. The tincture is very shelf-stable if kept sealed and in a cool dark place, such as a cupboard, and will last for many, many years. It does not need to be refrigerated. If you are interested in having enough placenta tincture to last your lifetime you may add 80 or 100 proof high grade alcohol (vodka) to the bottle as the tincture is used, never allowing it to get below 1/2 full, though this may eventually reduce the potency if done too many times. Tincture may be taken with small glass of water or juice. Personally I take any type of tincture in a small glass of juice and chug it, but my hubby would say I am a bit of a wussy when it comes to taking any sort of herbal concoction (I don't even drink beer lol). Dosage is included on the bottle label, but 7-10 drops is the normal recommended amount to take and may be taken a few times a day if needed. You can fill dropper from the top, to only get steeped liquid. Though many practitioners may mention your tincture being able to be used for your baby as well, it is important to acknowledge that children have a delicate balance of hormones, and your tincture may disrupt this balance. Unless under the care and advice of a licensed medical/naturopathic/homeopathic practitioner it is my recommendation that placenta remedies (including tinctures) should only be used by the mother they were made for.
Can placenta be used externally?
Yes. You can add your placenta powder or tincture to any gentle oil or lotion to use on eczema, cuts, scrapes, bug bites, etc. Placenta containing lotions should only be used on closed wounds that show no sign of infection, and should not be used on open wounds such as cesarean incisions. Making your own is as simple as opening capsules and mixing in with a small amount of coconut oil, fluffy shea butter, or other carrier oil such as almond, avocado, or apricot oil. Some prefer to use a few drops of tincture instead of powder (since it can be gritty) in the same fashion. For DIY recipes - http://www.placentanetwork.com/placenta-creams/
Why do you prefer texts &/or emails?
Just a little (placenta) mom humor. Texts are really the easiest way to reach me at anytime of day/no matter where I am, or what I am doing. Also, due to the areas I am in and my network coverage I do not always receive voicemails. However, please never hesitate to give me a ring. I am always happy to chat as long as you don't mind the background chaos :)
Any additional questions? Please do not hesitate to contact me at anytime with your questions.
Any additional questions? Please do not hesitate to contact me at anytime with your questions.