Nurturing the mother’s postpartum with the power of the placenta.
Total placenta encapsulations to date – 597 (July 2017) – Book with confidence.
- How is the placenta encapsulated?
- Placenta Transport Kits
- Bookings and fees
- Placenta tinctures & placenta prints
- The research and science
- Gift Certificates
Life after baby tends to ‘hit home’ for a lot of women around Day 3 postpartum. It is well known as Day 1 of the ‘baby blues’ period. It’s usually on this day when all the gloriously high levels of hormones like oestrogen and progesterone that were surging through a woman’s pregnant body, dramatically drop like a free fall at the end of a roller coaster. This decline is back to a preconception level and for many women also marks the arrival of her milk supply, which is often another steep learning curve for new mums. These factors, in combination with the other adjustments of the ‘fourth trimester’ can sometimes leave a woman feeling quite emotional, weepy, overwhelmed, fatigued and maybe even anxious.
Although far from a new concept, there is a natural way to ease this hormonal let-down and support the transition into the postpartum for new mothers.
Placentophagia, or consumption of the placenta has been used traditionally for thousands of years for its array of positive postnatal effects. Through volumes of research we know that throughout pregnancy this incredible, temporary endocrine (hormone producing) organ of life produces vitamin B6, iron, progesterone, oestrogen, prolactin, oxytocin and relaxin, just to name a few. We also know that a woman can lose up to 18% of her iron stores after giving birth. With studies showing iron deficiency is linked to postnatal depression, more and more women are drawn to using their placenta for their postnatal recovery. The anecdotal evidence from women who have used this service certainly suggests that using the placenta helps make the postnatal adjustments a lot smoother, and certainly a lot kinder for the new mother.
“What an amazing difference for me during this post birth period compared to the last three times! My milk supply has been so good…” Claire, 4th baby, 2013
“Within a day or two I started to feel the effects of the placenta capsules. My mood, energy levels and general emotions where all uplifted. I’m very happy to say that I did not get the “baby blues” as everyone refers to…” Melissa, 2013
Why use the placenta?
The placenta is a rich source of nutrients, hormones and other biochemical substances.
The placenta begins producing hormones at 6 – 8 weeks gestation to help sustain pregnancy. These hormonal levels continually increase during pregnancy, and by the third trimester there are 3 times the normal level of hormones in a pregnant woman’s system.
By 4 – 5 days postpartum, these hormone levels will drop significantly; plummeting back to preconception levels. This is a huge fluctuation going from 3 times the normal level to ‘below normal’ hormonal level, and this is where the balancing properties of the placenta come into play.
For thousands of years, the Chinese have revered this powerful substance in their Materia Medica as ‘regenerative to the essence and the breath’. It is widely documented in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) philosophy and practice as ‘Full of Qi’ (life force).
The placenta may aid mothers by:
- Preventing/decreasing the likelihood of developing the ‘baby blues’ and postnatal depression
- Replenishing essential hormones such as oxytocin and CRH (stress reducer)
- Replenishing essential nutrients such as iron, vitamin B6, amino acids and essential fats
- Minimising postnatal bleeding and helping the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy state
- Increasing and enriching breast milk production
- Reducing stress levels; leaving mothers feeling calmer
- Giving the mother the energy needed to cope with a new baby
- Decreasing the incidence of iron deficiency
- Allowing a woman’s body and spirit to quickly return to vibrant health after giving birth
“I didn’t experience the baby blues as I had with my first and no anxiety which I attribute to the hormonal benefits of taking my placenta. I feel like it helped with my energy and mood in those intense first weeks…” Mel, 2nd baby, 2013
“They have given me the extra energy I need to get through the day (after minimal sleep) and my milk supply has been wonderful, which is something I had a lot of trouble with after my first baby…” Belinda, 2nd baby, 2013
“I felt calm and well, energised and happy. I was less tired in the afternoons and I noticed the effects if I missed a morning dose…” Mandy, 4th baby, 2012
These benefits are due to the placenta containing the following bio-specific hormones and chemicals:
- Gonadotrophin – is the precursor to oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone
- Prolactin – is the hormone involved in stimulating milk production, enhances maternal instinct
- Oxytocin – is the hormone of love, bonding, protection; promotes feelings of love and maternal bonding between mother and baby; helps uterus to return to normal size whilst reducing post birth bleeding; decreases pain; counteracts the production of stress hormones such as cortisol; enhances the breastfeeding let-down reflex
- Prostaglandins – these anti-inflammatory hormones regulate the uterine contractions after birth and helps uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size
- Placental Opioid-Enhancing Factor (POEF) – this stimulates the production of your body’s natural opioids, including endorphins; reduces pain; increases well being
- Interferon and Gammaglobulin – both stimulate the immune system to protect against infection
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone – regulates the thyroid gland, boosting and balancing metabolism and energy levels
- Cortisone – combats stress and unlocks energy stores in body
- Iron – replenishes maternal iron stores to help combat anaemia or postnatal iron deficiency; decreases fatigue and depression
- Haemoglobin – the oxygen carrying molecule vital to energy in the body, clarity in the mind; supportive to the immune system
- Human Placental Lactogen (hPL) – has lactogenic and growth-promoting properties; promotes mammary gland growth in preparation for breastfeeding; also regulates maternal glucose, protein and fat levels
- Urokinase Inhibiting Factor & Factor XIII – helps reduce bleeding and enhances wound healing
“I had low iron during pregnancy (it was borderline). I got my levels rechecked after the birth and they had gone up! My doctor was amazed that was from just taking the placenta capsules!” Farah, 5th baby, 2015
“I feel they have helped me immensely; both with my moods and my milk levels. I could definitely feel when my moods were low, and the pick-me-up feeling after having capsules was so noticeable that my husband reminds me to take them now when I feel down…” Lulu, 2012
How is the placenta encapsulated?
The whole process takes about 24 hours and ideally begins within the first 12 – 48 hours after the birth. The first stage is the preparing and dehydrating, and the second stage is the encapsulating.
As a Certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist, I am trained in both methods; Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Raw Preparation Method.
The TCM Method sees the placenta gently steamed, slowly dehydrated, ground to a powder and then placed into capsules.
The Raw Preparation Method is identical to that of TCM, except there is no steaming of the placenta. You can read more the differences in these methods here.
Once the placenta has been encapsulated using vegetarian (non-gelatine) capsules, they are stored in a BPA-free, sealed container. These capsules look like any other vitamin/herbal capsule a woman may take.
Depending on your preference, your capsules will either be personally delivered back to you, or express posted to you. The process is completed in the shortest time possible, so you can begin taking the capsules as soon as possible to receive the maximum postnatal benefits. You can read more about these options below.
You will also receive the Booklet: Placenta Encapsulation & Your Postpartum. This provides full instructions, including dosage, storage and contraindications and more information on the benefits using the placenta. You’ll also find lots of helpful tips and information I have gathered over the years as a Childbirth Educator, Doula and Naturopath to help as you transition through your postpartum.
Placenta Transport Kit:
Your placenta needs to be packaged and transported according to the Australian Government Department of Health Requirements for the Packaging and Transport of Pathology Specimens and Associated Materials.
All bookings receive the BodyWise BirthWise Placenta Transport Kit upon booking confirmation. These provide a convenient solution for placenta storage and transport.
The Kit consists of cooler bag, labelled storage bags, care/storage instructions and collection/delivery instructions.
Bookings and Fees:
The options and fees for the Placenta Encapsulation Service are:
OPTION 1: You arrange to have the placenta brought to BodyWise BirthWise (Fremantle area), and the capsules and Booklet are express posted✉ back to you within 24 – 48 hrs – $300.00
OPTION 2: We arrange a time for BodyWise BirthWise to come to you* to collect the placenta, and the capsules and Booklet are express posted✉ back to you within 24 – 48 hrs – $350.00
OPTION 3: We arrange a time for BodyWise BirthWise to come to you* to collect the placenta, and the capsules and Booklet are returned in person to you within approximately 48 – 72 hrs – $400.00
All options include a non-refundable $50.00 booking fee.
✉ – BodyWise BirthWise uses Australia Post Express, Registered Mail; guaranteed overnight delivery in metro areas with parcel tracking and signature required on delivery.
* Please note this only applies if your hospital is within Zone 1. If outside of Zone 1, an additional travel fee of $50 or $100 will apply, per trip for collection and/or delivery of capsules.
Perth Hospitals within Zone 1: King Edward Memorial Hospital/Family Birth Centre, Fiona Stanley Hospital, Bentley Hospital, Attadale Private Hospital, SJOG Subiaco, SJOG Mt.Lawley, SJOG Murdoch
Perth Hospitals within Zone 2: Armadale Hospital, Osborne Park Hospital, Rockingham General Hospital, Glengarry Private Hospital, Swan District Hospital – $50 additional travel fee/s applies.
Perth Hospitals within Zone 3: Joondalup Hospital, SJOG Midland: $100 additional travel fee/s applies.
Please note, BodyWise BirthWise no longer services Mandurah for Option 2 or 3.
If you are having a homebirth, please contact me to confirm what Zone your home is in.
For doula clients, the fee is $200.
A placenta tincture is made from taking a very small portion (pea size) of the raw or steamed placenta, whichever is preferred, and placing it in a prepared solution of high grade alcohol for a minimum of 6 weeks. After this time it is strained off to create the 100ml tincture, that is then posted out to you.
Tinctures can be used once your placenta capsules are finished, in any time of emotional distress, transition, hormonal imbalance or illness. Stored in a cool, dark place the tincture will remain shelf-stable for many years.
Tinctures are an additional $60.
Placenta prints are also available. There are a few options to choose, prices vary from $30.00 to $50.00.
The print is taken using the fetal side of the placenta; with it’s often dominant vessel structures and umbilical cord. Placenta prints may be produced using the natural raw colour of the placenta (dries as red/brown) or using natural food-safe colours (orange, green, red, purple).
These food-safe colours wash off easily before the placenta is processed for encapsulation. The paper used for all prints is artist quality, 185gsm medium surfaced watercolour paper, approx 29cm x 42cm (A3 size).
More examples of prints can often be seen on the BodyWise BirthWise Instagram account.
Why is the postpartum so important?
Postpartum is the period of time after you give birth. Traditionally, it used to be called the ‘lying in’ period and is typically the first 4 – 6 weeks after giving birth.
This age-old idea of a new mother ‘lying in’ bed (figuratively, if not literally) for several days or weeks with her newborn baby has its merits. Multiple studies show that mum-baby bonding, milk production and the fragile physiology of the early postpartum period all benefit from a period of quiet and recuperation.
Specifically, the traditional lying-in period of two or more weeks where the mother does little or no other work than bonding with baby and feeding:
- Promotes swift healing of the perineum after a vaginal birth and strong healing of the incision after a caesarean birth.
- Promotes the release of oxytocin (often called the “love hormone” or “cuddle chemical”) which helps to bring mother’s milk in and thereby helping reduce levels of baby jaundice.
- Promotes mother-baby bonding, significantly reducing the chances of postpartum depression.
- Helps mother and baby get maximum rest.
- Helps support the mother’s normal, physiological changes of the postpartum.
However, in our culture today this period of ‘lying in’ doesn’t get the recognition and value that it deserves. There seems to be a unspoken societal pressure that new mothers are ‘doing a great job’ or ‘coping well’ if they are out and about, showered, dressed in clean and ironed clothes, hair done, face on and engaging in society within days or the first weeks of their babies birth.
Of course, each woman bounces back from birth differently. Some women experience a wide range of emotions and hormonal fluctuations. For some women this can be a difficult time, whilst for others it is filled with joy. If we can encourage women to acknowledge the needs of their bodies – and the needs of their babies – perhaps they could benefit beautifully from some quality and highly productive time ‘lying in’.
The Research and Science supporting Placenta consumption:
Baby Blues: postpartum depression attributed to low levels of corticotropin-releasing hormone after placenta is gone. Brief Article based on Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Vol 81, 1912-1917, Copyright © 1996 by Endocrine Society
“During the last trimester of pregnancy, the placenta secretes so much CRH that the levels in the bloodstream increase threefold. However, it was also discovered that postpartum women have lower than average levels of CRH, triggering depressive symptoms. They concluded that the placenta secreted so much CRH that the hypothalamus stopped producing it.”
“After childbirth, the hypothalamus doesn’t immediately receive the signal to begin producing CRH again, which can lead to postpartum depression. Eating the placenta will raise a mother’s CRH levels therefore, reducing postpartum depression.”
Click here for Human Maternal Placentophagy: A Survey of Self-Reported Motivations and Experiences Associated with Placenta Consumption, Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 1 March 2013 by Jodi Selander (Placenta Benefits LTD), Allison Cantor (Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA), Sharon M. Young and Daniel C. Benyshek (Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA).
Click here to read ‘Placentophagy as an Adaptive Biological Behavior: Why do mammals consume placenta?’
Click here for a great video by Taryn Goodwin of Spirited Doula Services (Oklahoma, USA) discussing using the placenta in the postnatal period.
“Many midwives think that the placenta looks like a tree of life. It’s interesting to think that every person on the face of the earth has been inside a mother, shared a placenta. I’ve been worried about my anaemia lately and there’s something about how strong and vigorous the placenta is that appeals to me. The fact that a woman’s body is capable of growing an entire organ from scratch that nourishes another life and consists of so many nutrients, especially iron, is amazing to me!” Amy Swagman.
Artwork by Amy Swagman www.themandalajourney.com
The statements, services and products on this website have not been evaluated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) due to the nature of this service and products. The placenta encapsulation services offered by BodyWise BirthWise are not intended to diagnose, treat or prescribe for any condition.
Whilst the benefits of consuming the placenta postnatally are based on research studies, articles and testimonials from new mothers, this research is ongoing and BodyWise BirthWise does not give any warranty or representation that these benefits are guaranteed. It is your responsibility, based on your own research of the benefits and risks of placenta encapsulation, to determine whether using placenta preparations may be of benefit to you.