Moonstone Midwifery

Placentas and Postpartum Health

When it comes to childbearing, a great piece of advice is to “be a mammal.” Seek healthy food in pregnancy, safety and intimacy for birth, cuddle and nurse your babies, and keep them close when they are newborns. Most mammals also eat their placentas after birth. More and more women are participating in this mammalian behavior as well, usually in the more palatable form of encapsulated placenta.

All around the world, where there are still intact postpartum traditions, many customs have to do with returning warmth to the mother’s body. In Korea, hot soup is eaten for 30 days. Vaginal steams are a traditional part of Mexican and Mayan postpartum practice, and nearby in Guatemala, women bathe in herb-infused sauna-like huts. In many parts of Asia, women wrap their bellies after birth, warming the womb, and expelling cold empty spaces within the body after the baby is birthed. Haitian mothers wear long sleeves and cover their heads. Many cultural traditions recommend resting by a fire, bundling up, avoiding wind or wet hair, and spending several weeks indoors being cared for.

It's important to note that, while most mammals consume their placentas, humans have been a historical exception. There is no anthropological evidence of placenta consumption by human mothers as being a traditional or ancient custom. Placenta encapsulation is an American custom and has gained popularity mostly in the last 20 years. Traditional Chinese Medicine does process and use placentas in formulas, but it is not a specific postpartum remedy. By cooking the placenta before dehydrating it, inspired by the TCM method of processing placentas for medicinal use, the placenta is thought to gain warming properties when converted from the raw state.

In fact, it’s precisely this warming property that convinces me of the value of this new tradition. Nature’s seasons are a metaphor for childbearing. The budding of conception is like spring, the heat and growth of the baby is like summer, finally ripening and bearing fruit in autumn. Postpartum, using this metaphor, is the cold restful season of winter, when instincts are to bundle, rest by the hearth, and care for each other. Placenta medicine is a perfect addition to postpartum recovery because it is believed to return heat to the mother’s body. With warmth, blood rebuilds, milk flows, and mood is supported.

There is little scientific research about the benefits or risks of consuming placenta medicine. It is a difficult area to make any health claims, because no major researchers have invested in human placentophagy studies. One small study from the 1950s found that mothers who consumed freeze-dried placenta after birth had an increase in milk supply. Animal research has found that consuming the placenta can balance hormones such as prolactin and progesterone and contributes to pain relief. It is also known that placentas contain iron and proteins, which contribute to blood-building at a time when mothers are recovering from some amount of blood loss. Many mothers speak anecdotally about improved postpartum mood when they consumed their placenta capsules after birth. Oregon law has determined that a mother’s placenta is her property and she can do with it what she wants, including turning it into placenta capsules.

American culture often comes up short when it comes to supporting new mothers. Thankfully, many midwives, doulas, lactation specialists, friends and family members are coming together to offer much needed holistic postpartum services, so mothers can get the rest, nutrition, and support they need. Placenta encapsulation can be a part of this new trend towards taking good care of mothers and babies.

Fee: $225
Please add $25 delivery fee
for rural delivery of the placenta capsules.

Fee Includes:

• Being on call to pick up the placenta within 24-48 hours of your birth.

• TCM-inspired processing of your placenta using strict hygienic methods to protect both myself and the mother’s consuming their placentas.

• As many capsules as your placenta makes. I can also dry the umbilical cord into a spiral or heart-shaped keepsake.

•Delivery of the placenta capsules to your door 3-5 days after I receive the placenta, including a consultation about their use, dosage, etc.


Contact Veege about Placent Encapsulation


Research on human mothers consuming their placentas is scarce. However, an old study from the 1950’s, using freeze-dried supplementation of placenta for postpartum mothers, did find a dramatic increase in milk supply.
(1) Studies have found that, in mammals, placenta consumption does alter and bring balance to postpartum hormones including prolactin and progesterone
(2), and can contribute to postpartum pain relief
(3). Placenta is also known to contain proteins and irons that contribute to blood-building at a time when mothers are recovering from some amount of blood loss and normal postpartum bleeding (lochia).

1. Placenta as Lactagagon
Soykova-Pachnerova E, et. al.(1954). Gynaecologia 138(6):617-627.
2. Effects of placentophagy on serum prolactin and progesterone concentrations in rats after parturition or superovulation.
Blank MS, Friesen HG.: J Reprod Fertil. 1980 Nov;60(2):273-8.
3. Placenta for Pain Relief:Placenta ingestion by rats enhances y- and n-opioid antinociception, but suppresses A-opioid antinociception
Jean M. DiPirro*, Mark B. Kristal

“Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.” - Ina May Gaskin, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

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