Placenta Encapsulation has been a topic of great discussion for the last decade or so. More and more moms are choosing to have it done and many are experiencing the tremendous health benefits. Recently, however, the birth community at large has created an uproar surrounding placenta encapsulation. This is because many insist that their way of doing it is the best way and only way. It has created a shameful and unnecessary division among birth professionals, who seem to be losing sight of the main goal of birth and postpartum work: a woman’s choice.
The conflict does not surround the benefits of placenta encapsulation. We all agree on that. Rather, some placenta encapsulators insist that their methodology is the only acceptable one.
Their way goes like this:
- The client brings the placenta home from the hospital. (The encapsulator does not, under any circumstances, pick it up.)
- The client’s placenta is prepared and processed in the client’s home after she arrives after birth. The placenta encapsulator cannot process it anywhere else. They insist that this provides every client with the best peace of mind about the handling and processing of their placenta.
That is all. I and many others in the birth profession have a few problems with insisting on these methods as the only safe and acceptable ones.
Most importantly, as I mentioned, the client gets no choices in the matter. If she does not want it processed in her home, regardless of her reasoning, that’s too bad.
Length of Time
Most moms stay at the hospital for a day or two after giving birth. If a woman has had a cesarean, she may stay for 4 or 5 days. During that time, the placenta is being stored by the hospital for her to take home. The fact that a placenta remains at the hospital while the mom is staying in a mother-baby unit does not guarantee it’s being handled safely or properly.
Most hospitals see a placenta as medical waste, and they do not always have systems in place for storing, labeling, and preserving a placenta that someone wants to be processed. Having a placenta encapsulator pick up the placenta soon after birth ensures that it is going to be handled and processed quickly.
In addition, the longer a placenta sits unprocessed, the greater the risk of contamination, spoiling, or mishandling becomes. The safest option for producing a quality product is to process it as soon as possible. I’ve heard stories of women learning after the fact that their placenta was mislabeled, and therefore they didn’t even know it was theirs! In another situation, a woman’s placenta was being held by the hospital staff for her when it mistakenly got sent to the pathology department. When it came back to her in shreds, she could not encapsulate it.
Placenta encapsulation provides the greatest benefit to women as soon as possible after birth. That means that the longer it goes unprocessed, the longer a woman’s body goes without getting the benefits that are critical in helping women manage those first several days.
Conversely, a placenta encapsulator can pick the placenta up soon after birth and have placenta pills processed and delivered the day after birth when the mom’s hormones are at their greatest need for stabilization. She can have her placenta pills even before she leaves the hospital.
What if a client does not want the placenta processed in her home? There are plenty of valid reasons that a woman may not want a placenta to be processed in her home. A placenta encapsulator that does not honor those reasons is providing a disservice and a lack of choice to that woman. Most women just want to be left alone at home to rest after birth. What if a woman has a pet that she is concerned will try and eat the placenta as it’s dehydrating? (That has happened!) Furthermore, some women simply may not want the smell in their house and that is fair because even after birth, a woman’s nose is sensitive to smells.
Finally, to claim that the placenta owner’s home is the best place because it can be most sterile is unjustified. I could refute that by claiming that my method is safest because I sterilize equipment by a certified sterile supply technician with steam sterilization in an autoclave when other encapsulators are only trained to disinfect. If you hire a placenta encapsulator to make your placenta pills, you can ask questions in the interview about how they process it, what certifications and methods they use, and how they ensure safety. Just because it’s being done within the client’s home doesn’t mean it’s automatically safer there.
I offer both in the home and in office placenta encapsulation, and I feel that is what gives my clients the most options. In my experience, most choose NOT to have it processed at their home. Still, a few choose to have me do it in their homes, and I am certainly glad to do it that way for them! What’s important is a woman’s CHOICE in the matter. After all, birth professionals all over the world advocate for women’s choice – and they deserve to have that choice extend to their placenta encapsulation options as well.