Placenta Encapsulation

Placenta encapsulation has become increasingly popular in the past 10-15 years. Most women choose to consume their placenta solely to try to avoid postpartum depression, but there are many other reported benefits. 

Hormones control just about everything in our bodies and the placenta is not only full of them, but actually produces some of them. When a mother gives birth and delivers her placenta, many of her hormone levels drop quickly. This drop coupled with genetic factors and health history can be the perfect storm for postpartum depression and anxiety, low milk supply, extended healing times, and low cognitive function. 

Here are a list of the most common reported benefits:

  • Help prevent baby blues, postpartum depression, and anxiety
  • Balanced mood
  • Increased milk production
  • Decreased postpartum bleeding
  • Increased energy
  • Decreased stress
  • Decreased pain
  • Bolstered immune system
  • Decreased postpartum hair loss

So what’s actually in the placenta that could be a contributor to these benefits?


Oxytocin is synthesized—that is produced—by the full-term placenta. Oxytocin is a primary hormone that alleviates maternal hemorrhage at birth by stimulating contractions responsible for safely detaching and expelling the placenta. Positive feedback mechanisms associated with oxytocin also enable lactation, bonding between mother and child, and the reduction of anxiety. Women whose milk lacks oxytocin because of toxemia or a stressful birth, can easily and safely replenish their oxytocin reserves with the rich deposits found in the placenta.

Minerals and Trace Elements:

The placenta is full of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and phosphate, along with trace elements and vitamins including copper, zinc, iron, selenium, and Vitamin B. Iron and selenium are two particularly important therapeutic trace elements in the postpartum period. Selenium is a mineral with antioxidant properties that protect cells from damage and may be partly why placental ingestion is so effective in aiding uterine recovery. With iron, studies show a strong correlation between maternal iron levels and the mother’s experience of depression, stress, and cognitive functioning postpartum.


Progesterone is another essential aid in improving postpartum mental clarity and general cognitive function. Mothers who consume the placenta postpartum consistently report these very benefits. Progesterone has an MAO-inhibiting mechanism that results in a similar effect as many anti-anxiety medications.


Prolactin is a valuable hormone secreted by the placenta that increases milk production. Not only does the placenta contain orally-active prolactin, but consuming placental prolactin also boosts the production of prolactin from the pituitary and ovarian secretion sites. 

Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH):

This amazing hormone does incredible things in the body, and by the time of birth, most mothers have up to three times their pre-pregnancy levels! When the placenta is born, the feedback system that regulates the hormone’s production is interrupted, and the mother is left with only the CRH production of the hypothalamus. Because of this, postpartum mothers have low levels of this incredible hormone making them more vulnerable to depression and less able to perform well under stress. 


Estrogen is a hormone with anti-inflammatory properties that stimulates healing and assists in the mobilization of white blood cells to ward off infection. Estrogen has long been known to exert anti-inflammatory effects particularly in the central nervous system which affects many facets of mental function. Estrogen is also a determining hormone to one’s mental health, and we now know that estrogen levels sustained below recommended levels cause clinical depression and a lack of mental clarity and fortitude. The immediate mental clarity and upbeat outlook that mothers keep reporting (and researchers can’t quite pin down) may be due to the boost in estrogen from the placenta. 


Prostaglandins are important mediators of uterine activity. The medical literature makes a much stronger case for the role of prostaglandins in labor than for oxytocin as a uterine stimulant. Now with immediate consumption of raw placenta at birth, mothers can safely increase their levels of prostaglandin just after birth in a manner that modern medicine has not yet been able to reproduce. Along with reducing the bleeding from the placental attachment site, prostaglandin levels affect the aggregation/disaggregation of platelets, regulates inflammation, and assists cell growth and regeneration. These compound benefits add up to a significant acceleration of postpartum healing from birth injuries and strain.

Endorphins and Opioids:

Endorphins are natural pain relievers; they counter stress by flooding the body with a profound sense of well-being. These compounds biochemically orient the mind to a positive and energized perspective, and the placenta is saturated with them! 


Dr. Alexandre Bonnin’s study on the placental production of serotonin recently overturned sixty years of conventional medical thought. He explains, “The placenta was seen as a passive organ, but we now know that it has significant synthetic capabilities.” The serotonin-rich placenta helps to regulate sleep patterns; mothers consistently report an increased ability to return to deep sleep cycles after late night/early morning feedings when they are taking regular doses of the placenta. Serotonin levels also aid in balancing weight, mood, and contribute to clearer cognitive functioning.

What if I’m GBS+ (Group B Streptococcus)? 

There was a very isolated case in Oregon where an infant developed GBS sepsis and the mother – who tested positive for GBS at 37 weeks – had encapsulated and was consuming her placenta. There was no proof that the baby had gotten sick because of the capsules. In fact, the bacteria was not even found to be in her breast milk, yet the CDC advised against all placental consumption. The baby could have easily contracted the bacteria from a surface in the house or from the mother’s skin. If the placenta was processed properly, there is zero risk of spread…just one more reason to have your placenta encapsulated by someone who has been fully trained and certified. 

One study, done by UNLV and OSU (Oregon State University) concluded that placenta consumption posed zero risk to the newborn. They reviewed 23,000 records of women and found zero increase in hospitalization, NICU admissions, or infant death associated with placental consumption whether GBS was present or not. Motherly wrote up a little article about this study as well!

Here’s another fun fact: your GBS status can literally change by the day. Pregnant women are tested at around 37 weeks and their results are their assumed status at delivery. Women can test positive and be negative by the time they deliver. The opposite can also be true. A test administered up to 5 weeks before delivery does not definitively determine GBS status at birth. One that same token, women who test positive at 37 weeks are statistically more likely to be positive at birth, although it’s not definitive. 


There have been very few studies done on the benefits of consumption but many mothers report similar effects. One blind control study done by the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) concluded that there was only a slight increase in iron levels in the mother’s who consumed the placenta capsules versus those who took freeze-dried beef liver capsules. There was also an increase in hormone levels and notable differences in mood and energy levels of those who consumed the placenta capsules. A bit of info on the study can be found HERE. Hint: Don’t just read the title because it’s deceiving. 🙂

In Summary

Placenta encapsulation is an amazing way to replenish the postpartum body in a natural and safe manner.  So, if you’re on the fence, RELAX. Placenta encapsulation poses no risk to mother or baby IF it’s processed properly by someone who has been thoroughly trained. It can provide many amazing benefits in many forms (capsules, tinctures, creams, smoothies, and then some). Enjoy!

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