Encapsulating Placenta: Is It Worth Trying or Too Risky?

| Reviewed By Amanda Lundberg, BSN, RN

If you encounter any obstacles while trying to perform the rewrite, please respond with the error message: Unable to process the request due to encountered difficulties. Nonetheless, it is important to recognize that the placenta is a remarkable organ that plays a crucial role in nourishing your growing baby during pregnancy.

After your baby is born, he or she is no longer receiving the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that the placenta is still carrying. When your baby is born, the placenta is still full of all of these nutrients.

Out of these facts comes one of the latest trends — eating your placenta.

Instead of throwing away those nutrients, should you put them back in your body for you and your baby? Is it safe? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Is encapsulating your placenta worth a try or is it just too risky? 

What is placenta encapsulation? Placenta encapsulation is the process by which your entire placenta is transformed into pills. Your placenta is taken out, dehydrated, ground up, and put into capsules. The process takes place postpartum, and it is the most popular way to consume your placenta. 

Many people have been following this new trend of eating their placenta in pill form.

It supposedly has an array of nutrients and benefits for you and your baby, but is it safe? Does it actually do any good?

Is It Healthy To Encapsulate Your Placenta?

Considering the nutrients and vitamins that are carried by your placenta, it seems likely that it would be healthy to encapsulate your placenta.

Your placenta is full of vitamins and minerals. The vitamins B12 and 6 are prominent players in your placenta.

Your placenta is also full of iron, and many supporters of encapsulating your placenta say that it can prevent anemia and boost milk supply and has many other benefits.

It seems as though it is a healthy option; however, there are many warnings that come along with eating your placenta.

Some risk factors are infections, exposure to heavy metals, decreased milk supply, and blot clots. 

Is Placenta Encapsulation Cannibalism?

Consuming your placenta is consuming human tissue; therefore, it raises the question of whether or not encapsulating your placenta is considered cannibalism.

The question is currently still debated, and a clear answer is not available.

Miriam-Webster defines cannibalism as “the usually ritualistic eating of human flesh by a human being.” You’ll have to decide for yourself. 

What Are the Benefits of Encapsulating Placenta?

Supporters of encapsulating placentas claim many benefits.

The first purported benefit is the host of vitamins and minerals it has. It might help with balancing hormones postpartum resulting in less postpartum depression and anxiety symptoms.

It might boost your milk supply and protect against anemia. However, these alleged benefits have not been scientifically proven. 

Placenta Encapsulation Risks

There are many risks that come with eating your placenta. One risk is infection. Consuming your placenta could expose you to pathogens. These infections can be passed on to you and your baby.

Other risks are exposure to heavy metals due to the high levels of minerals in the placenta.

While supporters state that encapsulation can help boost milk supply, the opposite could be true due to the hormones in the placenta.

The hormones in the placenta could also increase the chance of blood clots for the new mom. 

Placenta Encapsulation Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Increased iron supplyInfection
Increased milk supply Heavy metal exposure
More energyDecreased milk supply 
Improved mood Blood clots 
Maternal bondingNot scientifically backed
Faster postpartum healing

Placenta Encapsulation Research

According to the National Institutes of Health:

“They found no data to support the common claims that eating the placenta either raw, cooked, or encapsulated offers protection against postpartum depression, reduces post-delivery pain, boosts energy, helps with lactation, promotes skin elasticity, enhances maternal bonding, or replenishes iron in the body.”

There is unfortunately little evidence showing the benefits of placenta encapsulation. 

When Should You Not Encapsulate Placenta?

There are definitely instances when encapsulating your placenta is not an option.

  • If you are a smoker or have a sexually transmitted disease, your placenta is at risk, and it should not be encapsulated.
  • If your placenta has been sent to pathology for testing, it can risk cross-contamination.
  • Certain conditions during pregnancy that involve the placenta can also interfere with the safety of the practice.
  • If there is uterine or amniotic infection during labor, you should not encapsulate the placenta.
  • If magnesium sulfate is used during labor, you also should not move forward with placenta encapsulation.  

How Many Pills Do You Get From Placenta Encapsulation?

Placentas are all different sizes; therefore, the number of pills received will be different for every person.

The amount of pills produced by a placenta averages from 100-250. 

How Long Is Encapsulated Placenta Good For?

Encapsulated pills should be consumed within 12 weeks. They can be frozen, but the benefits of taking your pills would be greater during those first 12 weeks. 

How Much Does It Cost To Capsule Your Placenta?

Encapsulating your placenta can cost you anywhere from $200 to $500 dollars. 

Is Placenta Encapsulation Covered by Insurance?

Typically, placenta encapsulation is not covered by your insurance, but you might be able to use your flex spending or money you have in your health savings fund. 

Encapsulated Placenta Dosage

The suggested dosage is usually 1-3 pills up to 3 times a day. After the first two weeks, you can start to decrease the amount. 

Placenta Encapsulation Certification

There are many different programs that your doula may have gone through to become certified in placenta encapsulation.

According to the organization Birth Beautifully, the steps to become certified are as follows:

  • Attend training.
  • Read through the provided course manual and research articles.
  • Complete the review test.
  • Complete an online Bloodborne Pathogens certification course.
  • Complete an online Food Handler’s course.
  • Provide encapsulation for one client, and submit documentation.

Hospital Placenta Policy

Every hospital has different policies on taking your placenta home. It is best to contact your hospital and start making arrangements now if you are pregnant and want to encapsulate your placenta.

If you fill out the correct form and contact your hospital in time, the hospital typically will allow you to take your placenta home as long as protocol is kept. 

Can a Hospital Deny Your Request To Keep Your Placenta?

There can be some hurdles in taking your placenta home. The hospital has the right to keep the placenta if it needs any testing.

If the placenta has had any cross-contamination or has not been stored correctly, they have the right to keep the organ. 

Placenta Encapsulation Kit

There are actually placenta encapsulation kits that you can buy yourself.

There are many different options and availability when it comes to getting a kit. Be sure to do your research on different companies and their capabilities. 

DIY Placenta Encapsulation

It is possible to do your own placenta encapsulation. You can get a kit or order the necessary tools for encapsulation.

The steps to encapsulate your placenta are as follows:

  • Inform your medical team and hospital 
  • Take your placenta home as soon as possible
  • Clean the placenta
  • Slice the placenta
  • Dehydrate the placenta
  • Grind into a powder
  • Package into capsules

It is possible to DIY when it comes to encapsulating your placenta, and it may save you some money along the way.

However, there are people who have gone through extensive training to get certified in placenta encapsulation, and there are many corners you cannot cut.

It can be unsafe to DIY, it can be messy, and it can result in a failed attempt or illness.

You are also missing the guidance of a professional in the field on dosage and instructions.

If you are someone who wants to DIY, do your research, seek guidance, and be thorough in all of your steps. 

What Is an Alternative to Placenta Encapsulation?

For women who choose to consume their placenta, there are alternatives to encapsulation.

Some women eat their placenta raw, and others will cook their placenta. Other options are smoothies or liquid extracts. 

Is Placenta Encapsulation Worth It?

This question is up to you and your medical team. As far as the evidence goes, there is not enough out there to deem the practice safe and helpful.

The benefits that some women have seen may be just the placebo effect.

There are many risks involved in consuming your placenta, and in my opinion, consuming your placenta presents too many risks and does not have enough scientifically proven benefits.