frequently asked questions
"She helped to explain the process and was available to help answer questions, even postpartum."
Diana C, San Diego
1. Is it safe?
We understand that when we arrive to pick up your placenta for processing, you are entrusting us with the proper care and handeling of your precious placenta. We make it our number one priority to exceed the level of expectation you have for safety, sanitization and proper protocol. Before agreeing to encapsulate for someone, we require varification of a negative Hepatitis and HIV result. (We do not process HIV and/or Hepatitis positive placentas with our tools or in our workspace, however if you test positive for Hepatitis or HIV, you are still able to consume your placenta - talk to us about how we can walk you through encapsulating your own placenta with your own tools!) We both maintain a separate workspace in our homes that we use specifically for processing placentas. We utilize a 6-part sanitization process whith icludes washing our tools with soap and hot water, soaking in a bleach solution, and then washing wish soap and hot water again, both before and after each placenta we process. We also only process one placenta at a time from start to finish before beginning to process another placenta in order to ensure that you are receiving your placenta and that we don't come anywhere close to having a "mix-up." If one of us does get called in for more placentas than we are able to properly sanitize for and process in our 48-hour guaranteed return window, we will call in the other specialist to take on the placenta we aren't able to process. It is most important to us that your placenta is honored and respected to the highest standards. If you have more specific questions about our workspace or how we sanitize and process, please feel welcome to give us a call - we are an open book!
2. What does the research say about it?
The research about the benefits of placenta encapsulation is still in its infancy, although there are a few studies out there that have focused on individual beneficial elements of placentophagy (the consumption of one's placenta). More recently, in 2013, the University of Nevada Las Vegas released a survey study of self-reported benefits and experiences of placenta consumption. The full research article can be found here. In the study, 95% of participants said they had a "positive" or "very positive" experience with placenta consumption and all of the participants except two said they would consume their placenta again in future pregnancies. What's even better, is the results from this study opened the door for researchers to conduct a more scientific, double-blind study where they will actually be able to test the benefits that women are almost unanimously reporting! The results from the newer UNLV study will be published in 2016 - we're so excited to share the findings with you when we read them!! Stay tuned! Until then, if you'd like to do some further reading, here are a few resources where studies about placentophagy since the 1950's have been compiled:
3. What's the difference between TCM and raw encapsulation?
So many women ask us about the difference between TCMi and Raw and wonder which preparation method they should choose. As far as benefits are concerned, both methods of prep have similar benefits, although there are a few differences:
Raw: This method of preparing the placenta for encapsulation skips the steaming process all together and is set for dehydration while still “raw.” This process is only used within the first 48 hours after the birth to ensure freshness. It can be combined with TCM method so you receive half raw and half TCM. Some people choose this method because they are raw food activists and believe the cooking or steaming process destroys some of the nutrients. Using the RAW method provides a burst of energy up front but does not often offer the longer, tonifying benefits of TCMi. Tends to give moms more energy, and yields more capsules than TCMi.
TCMi: Traditional Chinese Medicine Inspired; This method of preparing the placenta for encapsulation involves gently steaming the placenta before dehydration. Gently steaming the placenta is a process that brings warmth back to the placenta, and thus back to the mother, to restore balance. TCM is believed to have tonifying, healing, and warming properties. If your placenta has been frozen, this is always the method of choice.
The choice between Raw and TCMi is most definitely a personal one. We urge you to choose the method that resonates most with you, and as always, please feel welcome to give us a shout if you have more specific questions about any of the preparation methods.
4. Can I still encapsulate if I have a medicated or cesarean birth?
Yes, absolutely! The medications involved in a medicated birth and/or cesarean do not interfere with the benefits of your placenta or our ability to process your placenta. Your placenta may be especially helpful to you for healing from a cesarean birth, so we definitely recommend encapsulation to help with your recovery.
5. Is there anything that would prevent me from being able to encapsulate?
There are a limited number of instances where you may be unable to encapsulate your placenta for various reasons that may be out of your control. Here are some things to keep in mind:
As your placenta specialists, we require confirmation of a negative result for both Hepatitis and HIV before we are able to process your placenta. If you test positive for Hepatitis or HIV, you are still able to consume your placenta - talk to us about how we can walk you through encapsulating your own placenta with your own tools! However, if you are giving birth in a hospital, it is imperative that you have the proper blood work on file to release your placenta from the hospital. Without the proper blood work on file prenatally, some hospitals will refuse to release your placenta to you. Please talk to your midwife or doctor if you have any questions about how to release your placenta from your birth location.
If there is a suspected infection, or if there is an issue with baby where the doctor may want to have pathology examine your placenta further, we will not be able to encapsulate for you if your entire placenta is sent to pathology - there is no way for us to ensure that it is not contaminated when it goes to pathology. However, you do have a couple of options! In instances where infection is suspected, you may request that your doctor removes a small piece of your placenta to send to pathology for testing, while the rest of your placenta remains with you in your postpartum room on ice in a cooler until results come back verifying your placenta is clear of infection. If there is an issue with baby and your doctor wants to send your entire placenta to pathology for examination, as the patient you have the right to refuse and keep your placenta if that is your preference.
If you do develop a uterine infection and your placenta becomes infected, unfortunately we will not be able to encapsulate your placenta. These instances are very rare and completely out of your control. If this unfortunate turn of events occurs, we will provide you with a refund (less the non-refundable deposit) and gift you with a complimentary healing salve and belly binding session to support you during your postpartum.
If your placenta is not stored properly before we arrive to pick it up and it spoils, unfortunately we will not be able to encapsulate for you. We provide each client with proper storage instructions before baby is born.
If you are taking certain medications prenatally that you plan to continue taking after baby arrives, it is important to discuss with your psychiatrist or doctor prenatally your plans to encapsulate. There may need to be some adjustment in your medication dosage prior to birth to ensure that any medications crossing the placental barrier do not interfere with your prescribed dosage postpartum. Please ask us if you have any questions about this!
Meconium (baby's first poop) being released during the birthing process does NOT exclude you from being able to encapsulate your placenta. Meconium is sterile, and even so, we will remove the layer of the amniotic sac stained with meconium and "wash" your placenta with a vinegar rinse to ensure there is no meconium on your placenta before processing.
6. What do you actually do with my placenta?
Want to know more about what the process is that we do to take your placenta from a raw and fresh organ into a cute little bottle of pills? Check out this specific post we created to help satiate your curiosity. Follow along with pictures as we go through the encapsulation process of My San Diego Placenta. Watch as we examine the placenta, measure the placenta, steam the placenta (for TCM method of preparation), dehydrate your placenta and then finally encapsualte the fine placenta powder we make out of the dehydrated placenta. You'll see this placenta transform in the same way that your own would: HERE!