Placentophagy is the practice of ingesting placenta, with celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian, Holly Madison, January Jones and Alicia Silverstone are all known to have followed. But what about placenta encapsulation in Ireland?
Originally Placentophagy used to entail a situation where the new mother cooked up her placenta before eating the resultant product. Thankfully things have moved on somewhat and there is now a less chewy and more palatable way to ingest one’s own placenta – the process of placenta encapsulation. Placenta encapsulation involves drying the placenta, grinding it up and putting into capsules that are easy to swallow and with a longer shelf life.
The practice of placentophagy is said to have a number of benefits for new mums including helping with postpartum struggles such as milk supply, depression, etc. However there is no definite scientific or medical study with which to give credence to the claims.
Lisa Cotter is the pioneering force behind placenta encapsulation in Ireland; she has been providing the service in Ireland for the past three years and has herself taken her own placenta in pill form after the birth of her last baby. Lisa is based in Cork and has a large client base countrywide.
Here she is to answer all our questions on placenta encapsulation in Ireland.
First of all can you give a quick overview of what placenta encapsulation is for anyone who has never heard of the concept?
Placenta encapsulation is a process where the placenta is dried out, ground down to powder form and then put into empty vegetarian capsules and taken like a normal vitamin supplement. It’s full of iron, vitamins and hormones that aid with the post-baby recovery period.
Why did you decide to get into this area?
I’m always looking for the most natural way of healing for my family and me. I studied homeopathy for two years and after the birth of my first little girl I heard of celebrities doing this, so I researched it and lucky for me, there was a girl coming to Ireland to train people on how to do it. I wasn’t sure how well it would catch on but I was willing to learn and do it for myself anyway. Thankfully the word is really spreading! I am one of the first to offer this service in Ireland and I’m happy to say that I’m probably Ireland’s busiest specialist.
A lot of people can be a little freaked out when they hear about it so can you tell us what is exactly in the capsules and where does this process take place?
Firstly there is only 100 per cent placenta powder in the capsules. There is no waste: what I get from each mother is processed and sent back in capsule form.
Secondly I totally understand people getting freaked, I was myself at the start. I am very transparent on how and where my work takes place. I have a dedicated workspace where only placenta work is carried out. I converted a downstairs room into a stainless steel dedicated workspace kitchen. I only use medical grade sanitizing/ cleaning products. I have worked in the pharmaceutical industry for many years and am very used to following guidelines to the letter.
What are the main benefits of placenta capsules?
The benefits include:
- Increased energy
- Increased milk supply
- Increased iron levels
- Quicker post-natal recovery, significantly reduce blood loss
- Helps avoid PND
- Reduces hair loss
- Improve skin, hair and nails
Are there benefits for the baby as well as for the mother?
Yes, the baby will benefit. If mum is healthy and happy, the baby will be too!
Do you get much feedback from customers of yours who have tried it?
Yes, I always get a thank you email or a text and I haven’t had a disappointed mother yet! I’m now seeing a lot of mothers coming back to me as they are pregnant again and have already worked with a good few return clients.
Is the process easy?
Yes, it’s very straightforward. I explain everything you need to do in advance, as it’s your responsibility to keep everything chilled until I come to collect. I’m very prompt and don’t leave mothers waiting!
What’s the science behind Placentophagy, what’s in your Placenta?
Although there is no scientific studies backing up the claims made about the benefits of placentophagy for new mums there are some facts about the placenta that are reliable. The placenta has the following:
- Haemoglobin (iron) – increases energy and combats anaemia
- Vitamins and minerals – A, D, E K, C, B6 and B Complex
- Oxytocin – the love hormone, a bonding and calming hormone, which also promotes breastfeeding
- Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH) – CRH is a stress reducer
- Prolactin – the lactation hormone, which increases milk supply and promotes breastfeeding
- Stem cells and growth factors – specialist wound healing agents necessary for cellular repair and regeneration of damaged tissue.
A lot of the evidence regarding placentophagy is anecdotal, however the practice of placentophagy is well documented and shared among mothers. There is no real money being provided to fund the research in the UK, although there is money being raised. There are studies taking place in America to see if there are clinical benefits behind it. But for the moment I’m afraid it’s a case of ‘mother knows best’ and we have to take other mothers’ words of the benefits.
Here is some of Lisa Cotter’s clients’ feedback on their experience of Placentophagy and placenta encapsulation.
“I literally started taking capsules the minute I got them. I started for the first few weeks of taking two in the morning and two in the afternoon. When I say my husband was shocked at how much energy I had, I mean he kept telling me to take it easy. He himself couldn’t get over the difference from when I had my daughter the previous year. I was just exhausted first time round and those first few weeks of intense breastfeeding drained me. Not this time!
I couldn’t get over how plentiful my milk was in a few days. I had enough milk to feed and express in the first week. I also didn’t experience those weepy days you get within the first few days this time round either.” Pauline, Dublin
“I had my handsome baby boy by C-Section. As this was my third section I wasn’t looking forward to the recovery as previously I’ve had two blood transfusions after operations and after my last two children I had to get iron injections and iron tablets after the birth. So now I’m three weeks after having my baby I am full of energy feeling really good and have a clear mind.
My iron levels have been checked and are perfect. I started on the tablets on day three. My husband says he can really see the difference in me, as can my family and friends.” Rachel, Cork
“Well, the placenta capsules are just magic! I worry for the day that I run out! My hair is so soft and in such good condition, I can’t keep up with the growth of my nails! I feel I have energy and I feel great. On days that it’s busy with a toddler and baby, (lots of days!) if I’m feeling tired or overwhelmed I take another one and within an hour I feel energised again!!” Ursula, Cork
Sounds like something worth considering!
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