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Alternative Medicine: Placentophagy

Although we are living in a time of great medical advancements, there are many who hold fast to homeopathy as an alternative approach for healing. Homeopathy is a medical system based on the belief that the body can cure itself by using small amounts of natural substances such as plants and minerals. This practice has been used for centuries in populations all over the world. Today it’s common in various countries, but not quite as popular in the United States due to the uncertainty of its effectiveness which is disputed within the medical science community. One of these disputes surrounds placenta encapsulation, or placentophagy, also known as placentophagia. Placentophagia is the act of consuming part or all of the placenta following birth in mammals, which nearly every mammal does. In today’s blog we are going to interview Doula Nan to get more information on placenta encapsulation.


What is placenta encapsulation?

Placenta encapsulation is the process of cleaning, steaming, dehydrating, then grinding your placenta into powder form and placing it into gelcaps. Encapsulating your placenta is a safe and healthy way to help your body transition through your postpartum period. It helps to avoid baby blues and treat symptoms of postpartum depression. Research has proven that the placenta is rich in minerals, vitamins, and nutrients all of which your body needs to help it recover. The placenta retains these nutrients and hormones following birth and reintroducing them to your system is believed to ease postpartum hormonal fluctuations. Although encapsulation is the more traditional approach, there are other methods such as raw prep and tinctures that are also common.


What inspired you to want to provide this service?

A few things inspired me. When you discover the beauty of childbirth and everything that we, meaning mothers, consume (ingest) goes right to the baby. The reality of a healthy placenta amazed me seeing the tree of life on the baby’s side and then the maternal side indicating the health status of mom. It literally blows my mind every time I get to examine a mother's placenta. When you see calcification in the placenta it shows me a couple things, like the expecting mom probably took too many antacids or she was overdue, and the placenta began aging. You can also tell if mom started hemorrhaging so honestly, it's a whole secret science project. The other side of my satisfaction of placenta encapsulation is the nutritional benefits, the placenta contains vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin B6 and iron. These elements help replenish the body after childbirth and combat postpartum fatigue. You worked so hard growing and birthing your baby, now after the arrival, the baby is replenishing the body. This is a part of reestablishing self-care.


How does the process of encapsulation work?

The first step is being present to receive the placenta after delivery and get it on ice. Then it is properly cleaned, removing the excessive blood and debris. After comes steaming the cleaned placenta with jalapeño, ginger, and lemon then the next step is dehydrating it in a food grade dehydrator for 12-15 hours at a low temperature. Lastly, grinding the placenta into a powder and encapsulating the powder into a pill for ingestion. As for the umbilical cord, I'm an artist so I really find joy in creating a souvenir keepsake for the parents to frame with their baby’s name on it.


Doula Nan

IG: @AtlantaHolisticBirths

FB: Atlanta Holistic Births

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