Placentophagia FAQ (Flutterby)

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You Want Me To Eat My What?!
10 Common Questions & Concerns About Placentophagia (aka Placenta Encapsulation)
Flutterby Birth Services
That Sounds Unappetizing... Like Cannibalism.
Most nonhuman mammals consume their placenta after birth! The exceptions are camels and aquatic animals. Cannibalism = the eating of human flesh, and flesh is defined as being muscle and fat - placenta is neither. Cannibalism is consumption of the flesh of someone or something that has been recently killed. Again, placentas do not fall in this category. Encapsulation removes the "ick" by turning the placenta into easily-digested pills!
But Don't Animals Consume Theirs Just To Hide From Prey?
- Unchallenged predators consume their placentas, even though they are not likely to fear that other predators could harm their offspring. - Even in species in which the baby is able to get up and walk away from the birth site, the mother will stay until the entire placenta is consumed. - Certain primates that give birth high in a tree will not let the placenta drop to the ground, but will consume it, even taking an hour or two to do so! - The placenta is just one part of what is left after birth! There is no effort to clean up blood and other fluids that exist on the ground of the birth site, which would also presumably attract predators.
Hiding the birth from prey should be considered a consequence, rather than a cause of placentophagia in animals. Consider these observations:
- Gonadotrophin: the precursor to estrogen, progesterone and testosterone - Prolactin: promotes lactation - Oxytocin: for pain and enhanced bonding - Thyroid stimulating hormone: boosts energy and helps recovery from stress - Cortisone: combats stress and unlocks energy stores - Interferon: stimulates the immune system to protect against infections - Prostaglandins: anti-inflammatory - Hemoglobin: replenishes iron deficiency and anemia, common postpartum - Urokinase inhibiting factor and factor XIII: stops bleeding and enhances healing - Gammaglobulin: immune booster that helps protect against postpartum infections - Vitamins and Minerals including iron and calcium - Fiber, fat, protein
What Nutrients & Hormones Are In The Placenta?
Well, to name a few...
I Have Heard That Encapsulating Can Help With Postpartum Depression. Is This True?
We know that the placenta contains Cortisol, and that the level of CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone) in new mothers descreases significantly after birth. Supplementing with Cortisol-rich placenta capsules could potentially assist in diminishing a new mother's stress levels. Research into the hormonal aspects of PPD are ongoing. Additionally, the iron in the placenta helps combat postpartum fatigue, which is associated with PPD.
I Struggled to Produce Enough Milk With My Last Baby. Will This Help?
The placenta is rich in prolactin (the hormone that produces milk) and oxytocin (the hormone responsible for the "letdown" of milk while nursing). In a study of 210 women who consumed dried placenta, 181 had either very good or good results with increased milk secretion.
This Just Seems Like A New "Fad."
References to honoring the placenta in some form or another date back hundreds of years in many cultures. Human placenta has also been used in some traditional Chinese medicines as well as in cosmetics (especially in Europe). And, again, most mammals consume their placenta. Placentophagia is undergoing a wonderful revival in Western cultures, with no signs of stopping!
I Want To Avoid Taking A Lot Of Pain Medication Post-Birth. Does Encapsulation Help Manage Pain?
Research indicates that ingesting placenta increases the effectiveness of opioids. This would mean that the mother could take less pain medication to reach the same desired pain management. Women may experience fewer pharmacological side effects and better maternal responsiveness. This could be especially helpful for mothers who have cesarean births, and mothers with episiotomies or severe tears.
If You Heat Up The Placenta, That Must Zap All Of The Nutrients.
I Have Heard the Placenta Is Full Of Toxins. Is That True?
Studies of heat-dried placentas have shown that they are still rich in nutrients including protein, minerals (such as iron and calcium), fiber, and fat. Hormone levels were lower in heat-dried placentas compared to physiologic levels in human beings, but were still present. Again, iron is particularly key in regulating postpartum fatigue, which is linked to PPD.
The placenta, while often referred to as a filter, is better described as a gatekeeper between mother and baby. While it prevents some toxins from traveling through to the fetus, they are not stored in the placenta. Studies have shown that the heavy metal content found in placentas is lower than the amount deemed safe by the FDA. It is always important to have your placenta encapsulated by a specialist trained in Food Safety to help ensure that any external bacteria it may come in contact with prior to encapsulation do not pose a risk to you.
How Do You Know It Works... I Still Have Doubts.
Every woman has a unique experience with encapsulation. However, most women report experiencing benefits. In a survey from UNLV of 189 women who consumed their placenta, 75% reported a "very positive" experience, 20% reported a "positive" experience, and 4% reported a "slightly positive" experience. Participants reported benefits including better postpartum mood and increased lactation. At Flutterby, we survey all of our mothers, and all respondents have reported one or more positive benefits; and all would recommend encapsulation (see!
Soykova-Pachnerova, Eva et al., "Placenta as a Lactagogon." Charles University, Prague 1954. Hendrick, Victoria et al.,  "Hormonal Changes in the Postpartum and Implications for Postparum Depression." Psychosomatics. Volume 39, No. 2, (March-April 1998). Kristal, Mark B., "Placentophagia: A Biobehavioral Enigma." Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. Volume 4, (February 1980). Aksha Bawany (February 27, 2013). Steamed, Dehydrated or Raw: Placentas May Help Moms’ Post-Partum Health. University of Nevada Las Vegas, UNLV News Center. Corwin, Elizabeth and Arbour, Megan, "Postpartum Fatigue and Evidence-Based Interventions." MCN. Volume 32, No. 4, (July/August 2007). Phuapradit, W. et. al., "Nutrients and Hormones in Heat-Dried Human Placenta." J Med Assoc Thai. (June 2000). Kristal, Mark B., "Enhancement of Opioid-Mediated Analgesia: A Solution to the Enigma of Placentophagia." Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. Volume 15. Keller, Nikole. "Uncovering the Truth About Bacteria and Heavy Metals in the Placenta." (APPA - Research: What We Know).