A photo documentary of placenta encapsulation: yes, you're going to see pieces of bloody placenta

Melanie, aka The Placenta Encapsulater. All photos by LeahAndMark

If Leah and Mark seem familiar, it's because we featured photos from the water-and-home birth of their son, Jonah, a few weeks ago (they're also Atlanta-based photographers). Leah decided to encapsulate her placenta, and the pair shared ALL the details — including very high-quality (read: detailed) photos of the process.

Seriously: if you don't want to see bloody placenta pictures, just stop now.

Still with me? LET'S LEARN! Says Leah:

I decided to encapsulate my placenta. Or, rather, I decided to hire someone to come over to my house and encapsulate it for me (thanks, Melanie!). Honestly, if I think about it too much it still grosses me out. But I'm happy to report that the actual taking of the placenta pills is not as gross as I feared.
The pair put the placenta in a ziplock bag in the fridge right after Jonah was born, and Melanie came over two days later.
Removing the outer sac!
So why exactly am I swallowing my placenta? There are a list of supposed benefits from consuming one's placenta after birth — from helping reduce postpartum bleeding, to increasing milk supply and a host of other things. There aren't any big studies to back up these claims, but there are tons of anecdotal accounts from other women, so I figured I'd give it a shot… at the very least, it wouldn't hurt me. And it could possibly really help with my postpartum recovery.
Cooking the placenta -- it's in a steamer, which is inside a pot of water.


You place the chopped pieces in a food dehydrator.
UMM yes… dehydrated placenta in a coffee grinder! Yum. The best part of waking up…

If you're feeling super curious (or you've already had all the meals you plan to have today), you can see and read even more at LeahAndMark's blog. Also, here's a cute baby Jonah snap, since y'all sat through all the bloody placenta first:

All together now: AWWWWW!

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  1. So that's how it's done!

    Does anyone know if someone who has an intolerance to any and all animal products would get any benefit from doing this? I'd like to try it in the future, but would rather not make myself worse…

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    • I can't imagine it would cause an issue, as it is primarily your own body tissues, which you live with just fine in all other aspects. The only thing I could see potentially becoming problematic is if you and the baby have Rh incompatibility. I'd ask your doctor or midwife to get their opinion, but it seems intuitively safe.

      1 agrees
      • Good point! Thanks for that. :)

  2. Whew! That is definitely not something I could talk myself into doing. Good on you for giving it a go, though!

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  3. This is great! I thought you could only send the placenta away to get it encapsulated!
    I am SO going to engage in Placentophagy. Hubs wants in on it, too. Before this renewed interest in this practice, the only time I'd ever heard of eating placenta at all was in vegetarian circles' tales of Placenta Stew.

    1 agrees
    • There are probably people in your area who do placenta encapsulation. Many doulas (like myself) also offer placenta encapsulation. Google around!

  4. Cool! Thanks for posting this! Very informative.

  5. I did this, and I think it may have helped me (it's really tough to know how my recovery would have been otherwise). My baby blues were intense before my doula dropped off the capsules, but once I started taking them I was right as rain. My energy was super high those first weeks despite having no sleep and I just felt generally good. Plus, it wasn't icky to take. I recommend it, if it's in your budget (I had to pay extra for this service). Heck, do it yourself if you can.

    On a side note, I had a(n AWESOME!) hospital birth, and the nurses were helpful in getting us a little lidded bucket for packing up. Maternity wards have really seen it all nowadays, so don't feel that the location of your delivery will limit your ability to try this.

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  6. We are planning on doing this, ht it still totally skeeves me out…. Like a lot. To the point where I'm just going to have to pretend they are vitamins.

    But I know I get seasonal depression(really bad some years) and we think this will help lessen our chances of post-partum.

  7. I did this for a friend when she had twins last year and really it wasn't as bad as it sounds. Yeah, there were a few times when I'd feel like gagging, but I'd just remind myself that it nourished those babies and will now nourish mom. And then thanked God for the placenta. And then usually didn't want to gag anymore. It gets a LOT easier to tolerate once it's cooked – it kind of looks and feels like beef jerky.

  8. Thank you very much for posting this, I am really interested in placentophagy (I even learned the technical term) and was super stoked to see another post on it here.

  9. we often hear of people ingesting the placenta, without hearing why. Thanks for this perspective!

  10. I really wanted to do this. Our homebirth plans ended up with an induction and then c-section at the hospital and they were worried I had an infection by the end, so my midwife didn't think it was wise to consume the placenta. I still feel sort of sad about that.

  11. My doula is all about this and was talking to me about it the last time I saw her and so I am glad to see this here because part of me was like…. "but how…."

    I figure it can not hurt so I am going to give it a go!

  12. THIS!!! As you guys at OBM know, I ate the first one. With the second one, my previous processor had the mumps and couldnt do it, so my husband did it for me, last week. I didnt steam mine, but blended it whole in my blender and then poured it into the fruit leather tray in the dehydrator, but otherwise, same process. I feel awesome and so much better this time around because I started taking it at 5 days post partum instead of 4 weeks. I cant say enough good stuff about it!

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  13. Thanks for posting this, my mom was telling me about people she knows that have done this! I told my mom I wouldn't have the energy to figure out how to do this, especially with a brand new baby (my 1st as well, due in March), so she said she would do it. I'm going to share this with her, should help immensely in our endeavor!! Awesome Thanks.

  14. I was so bummed not to be able to take my placenta home to do this last time (preemie so they took it away for testing). We're hiring a special postpartum doula to do this for us this time around (assuming everything goes as planned). I really hope it helps with breastfeeding and PPD (well anxiety) since those were both hardships I suffered with my first.

  15. How many nutrients stay in the placenta after cooking and dehydrating?

    2 agree
  16. I encapsulated my placenta myself about 5 month postpartum. I always meant to take it to someone for them to do and never got around to it! I read instruction online but they weren't this detailed so I had no idea if things were going as they should, like, is that smell normal? Is it supposed to look like that after coming out of a steamer?? Guess so!

    I only ran into a problem when it came to grinding the dried pieces. I used my Quisinart to grind it up but there were a few rather stubborn chunks that I wouldn't break down. I think I spent like 2 hours trying to get everything ground up!

    I got about 75 pills when all was said and done. I didn't really notice any change in my mood but my milk supply was bangin' :) If I do have another child I will definitely do it again!

  17. thank you for posting this.
    i will not be eating my placenta.
    but interesting to read about it :)

    2 agree
  18. Fanastic info! I totally want to do this!

  19. I did this – although I paid for someone to do it for me, they picked it up from the hospital & dropped off a bottle of capsules the next day. My motivation was almost exactly the same as the author's, I was concerned about PPD and despite the lack of hard medical evidence the amount of anecdotal evidence was persuasive – I also thought it couldn't hurt.

    Oh and I'm in Singapore – so wherever you are, there's a chance someone nearby will be able to do this for you!

  20. I had this done for me in October following the birth of my first. I was able to take my placenta home in a BIOHAZARD bag and store it in the crisper of my fridge (which tickled my husband to no end) until my doula could come do the encapsulation. What a life saver. I've struggled throughout my adult life with depression, and I never, ever, want to take antidepressants again, so placenta encapsulation was a good fit for me.

    We got to help with the process- our doula even gave us a "walking tour" of my placenta, which was fascinating. He did prints of it, and even dehydrated the sac and umbilical cord for us as super-weird keepsakes (also to the delight of my husband). After taking a few pills (and eating some of the cooked placenta, because hey, when in Rome, right?) I felt SO energetic, so relieved, and so ready to be a crazy-awesome mother. I would absolutely recommend this to everyone, especially those who have suffered from depression in the past. It was amazing.

  21. OOOOOooooh I'm so glad this was posted! I'm having my placenta 'encapsulated' in March and had no idea how they were going to do it. Now I know :D:D:D

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