Is placenta encapsulation safe? Well.... it depends.
A few questions are necessary to determine wether or not it is safe to encapsulate your placenta.
How is the placenta stored prior to encapsulation? The placenta should be refrigerated or on ice within a couple hours after birth. If it is not encapsulated within 3 days, it should be moved to the freezer. This may seem weird, but I always tell clients to treat their placenta like an expensive steak.
Clients can ensure that their placenta was kept within these refrigeration standards by having their placenta processed in their own homes. This way, your placenta is never at the whim of what someone else deems safe; you are in control.
How is the placenta is prepared? I have years of positive experience preparing placentas for clients. I used to do a variety of different preparation methods depending on what a client wanted. I have come to the belief that steaming the placenta to 160 degrees and then dehydrating at 160 degrees or higher for 12 or more hours is the safest way to prepare a placenta for encapsulation.
Steaming the placenta minimizes potentially harmful bacteria. Dehydrating your placenta completely at the appropriate temperature ensures that no moisture is present in the resulting capsules. This is now the only way I will prepare a placenta, as it adheres to the Food Safety laws for meat preparation and in the end, your placenta is a food.
How are the placenta capsules stored after processing? Storing capsules under refrigeration is an extra safety precaution. I also include a moisture-absorbing packet to reduce even the slightest chance of bacteria-promoting moisture in the capsule jar. Storage guidelines are given to each client to add another level of safety.
Other precautions to take ensure safety in encapsulating your placenta:
Maintain open communication with your Postpartum Placenta Specialist. Ask any questions you have about the way your placenta will be stored, handled and prepared. There are no wrong questions!! Most women have never even seen a placenta before birth - there is nothing weird about not knowing what to expect. Let your health care provider, (OB or midwife), know your plans for encapsulating your placenta and see if they have any questions to add.
Disclose all information about blood-borne pathogens and pregnancy conditions to your PPS. Your PPS should be checking in with you about the health of you and your baby after birth and prior to encapsulating. She should then be checking in with you at intervals of a few days and, later, a few weeks. These are checks I always do. This communication is not only kind and supportive, it is vital to making the safest choices possible regarding your placenta.
Have your placenta encapsulated in your own home.*
Following this precaution gives you complete oversight of your placenta: how it is stored, handled, and processed. In home encapsulation will insure that your placenta does not come into contact with outside bacteria. You can have confidence that your placenta is indeed YOURS, and is the only one being worked with. If you are unsure about any safety protocols, just ask. Your Postpartum Placenta Specialist is there to support you and a large piece of this may be understanding the process.**
*I encapsulated placentas in my own home for years with out any negative outcomes. I followed strict safety guidelines and maintained open communication with clients. STILL, I am a believer in clients having the process done in their own homes to ensure complete safety. I now ONLY offer Placenta Encapsulation IN clients own homes.
**If you don't have any questions or DO NOT want to see the process of preparing your placenta that is okay! You and your partner don't need to be in the room or chatting unless you want to.