More and more women in Singapore and around the world are consuming their own placentas in the form of capsules. Find out about the process of placenta encapsulation and more in this article. Note: this article contains a few graphic images.
If you are pregnant, your body has, rather miraculously, grown an organ with the sole purpose of ensuring the wellbeing of the baby in your womb. This organ is the placenta.
The placenta keeps your unborn baby’s blood supply separate from yours, but maintains a connection at the same time. It passes oxygen and nutrients from you to your baby via the umbilical cord and helps dispose of waste. Once your baby is born, the placenta is “born” too in the third stage of labour.
Usually, the placenta is disposed of after it leaves the mother’s body. But some mothers now are opting to consume their own placenta in the form of capsules.
This isn’t another modern fad, though. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the custom of consuming the placenta – or placentophagy — is centuries old and practised most often in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In TCM, the dried placenta is known as Zhî hé che (紫河车).
So, would you eat your own placenta? We bring you some great information about placenta encapsulation to help you decide.
The benefits of placenta consumption
Placenta encapsulation is “the act of processing a placenta and turning it into pills for consumption”, says Malaysia-based placenta encapsulation specialist Ashley HauYi*.
She explains that a woman may choose to consume her placenta for several reasons, such as to increase her breastmilk production levels, balance her hormones, reduce tiredness and for better postpartum recovery in general.
Popular Singapore-based midwifery and doula service Four Trimesters explains exactly which beneficial hormones and other nutrients found in a placenta can help boost a new mum’s health and wellbeing:
- Gonadotrophin: This is the precursor to the hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, which are believed to help you avoid the “baby blues”, regulate post-birth uterine cramping and normalise and stimulate your libido.
- Prolactin: This hormone stimulates your breastmilk production and boosts mum-baby love and bonding. The milk-boosting properties of placenta have also been noted in studies (Soykova-Pachnerova, 1954; Bensky, 1997), where after consuming dried placenta, women with low supply issues had a positive increase in their milk production in just a few days.
- Prostaglandins: These anti-inflammatory hormones regulate uterine contractions after birth, helping your womb to return to its pre-pregnancy size.
- Placental Opioid-Enhancing Factor (POEF): This stimulates the production of your “happy hormones”, including endorphins.
- Interferon and Gammaglobulin: Both of these help protect you against infection by stimulating the immune system.
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone: By regulating the thyroid gland, this hormone boosts and balances your metabolism and energy levels.
- Cortisone: This helps boost energy levels by unlocking energy stores in the body.
- Iron: This is so important to help you combat anaemia or postnatal iron deficiency. It also decreases fatigue and depression.
- Human Placental Lactogen (hPL): With lactogenic properties, this promotes mammary gland growth in preparation for breastfeeding and regulates your glucose, protein and fat levels.
Placenta encapsulation Singapore: Find out on the next page how placenta is prepared for consumption.