FAQ: Vermont Placenta Encapsulation

FAQ: Vermont Placenta Encapsulation

Tara Carpenter, CPES.

Hormonal support for new mothers in Vermont, since 2011.

What are benefits of placenta capsules? 

Scientific research shows placenta to contain iron, protein, B12, and hormones to promote healing in the postpartum period. Capsules can boost energy, balance hormones, decrease baby blues, increase breast milk, and tonify uterus. Updated research on ingesting placenta capsules here. My 13-minute placenta video answers this question more fully.

Why hire a Certified Encapsulator?

As a PBi-certified encapsulator, I:

  • Follow strict OSHA guidelines
  • Renew my certificate in Food Safety & Handling
  • Knowledgeable in the benefits of placentophagy
  • Certified in the PBi method of placenta encapsulation
  • Have a network of experienced professionals
  • Am able to answer your questions
  • Check in during your postpartum period

What medications during pregnancy or labor make it unsafe to encapsulate? Is there any research done to support that?

As a PBi Placenta Encapsulation Specialist®, I do not make any recommendations on which placenta is suitable for encapsulation. We leave all decisions as to the viability of the placenta up to the care providers. If the mother and the provider deem the placenta heathy at birth, and want it prepared in capsule form, I can provide that service for her..

Can I use capsules if I have GBS+? 

It depends on preparation method. NOT ALL ENCAPSULATION PROVIDERS USE SAME SAFETY STANDARDS. GBS is NOT an issue for placenta encapsulation, when the placenta is properly prepared! Never ingest a GBS+ placenta that has been prepared from raw. I am trained to prepare placenta into capsule form using a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) method on file with the FDA; a method that addresses the issue of bacterial pathogens like group B strep. I have safely prepared capsules for GBS+ moms since 2011. Read more…

How does this work? 

It’s preferable to reserve your spot 1+ month before estimated due date by contacting Tara Carpenter, Certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist, at tara@happybellies.net and filling out an intake form. You will receive a confirmation email and final invoice within 3 business days.

The encapsulation is completed in your home after birth. I bring necessary supplies and only need access to sink, stove-top, electrical outlet, and bit of counter space. The entire process is completed in two steps and takes a total of 5-7 hours. The placenta is left to dehydrate for a period of time in between steps. Your kitchen is cleaned and sanitized after each step.

You might think awkward to have me in your home and though yes, I may be a minor inconvenience, I am not a guest, nor do I expect to meet mom or baby. I come and go quietly; leaving your kitchen sanitized.

You receive placenta capsules, tea/tincture, and dosage instructions. Placenta prints are an additional $25.

How to get my placenta from hospital?

Many of the hospitals in Vermont and New Hampshire are familiar with moms-to-be requesting to have their placentas released though they each have a unique set of policies and procedures. Some may require you to sign a release waiver. I recommend that you share (in advance) with your care provider and birth team about your plans to keep your placenta for consumption after birth. 

Once you book with me I will send an informative letter that you can share with your care provider about the placenta encapsulation service I offer.

In the 12+ years I have encapsulated in Vermont, I have not had a hospital prevent a mom from taking her placenta home unless there is an infection present. If you contract an infection during or immediately after birth, you will not be allowed to take home the placenta.

Many parents send the placenta back with a friend or family member to put in their home fridge. Or dad steps out to bring it home. Once there (and depending on my availability) we will arrange a time to encapsulate. 

Why encapsulate in my home?

To comply with state/federal guidelines and create a clean, safe environment, I encapsulate in your home because:

  • It is not legal for me to transport a placenta without proper certification and/or to encapsulate in our home.
  • You can be certain you get your placenta and ONLY your placenta. 
  • You know exactly what happens and that your placenta is stored at proper temperatures at all times.
  • If you choose to, you can observe capsules being made 😉
  • You can be assured placenta is prepared in a clean environment. Without regular health inspections/monitoring, only way to ensure capsules are prepared in a clean environment is prepare them in your home by a certified Specialist trained to handle blood properly.
  • There are currently NO facilities in United States approved for the preparation of placenta pills.

It is perfectly legal to have your placenta prepared at your residence (or a friend/family). You only get 1 placenta when you have a baby. If it’s handled in an unsafe manner, over-processed, molds due to moisture, ends up being someone else’s placenta (rare yet…), or causes sickness, you lose an opportunity to get the benefits of your placenta in your postpartum.

What is your training and certifications?

As a PBi-Certified Placenta Encapsulationist, I trained with Placenta Benefits (leading resource in placenta encapsulation) to prepare placenta medicinally with a Traditional Chinese Medicine method on file with FDA.

I maintain my certification as a ServSafe Food Handler and follow procedures used in food service establishments. My handling and disinfection practices meet strict Federal (OSHA/EPA) and local guidelines and PBi-standards meet the same EPA guidelines for licensed small laboratories, who handle blood-borne pathogens and medical waste.

As a PBi-member, I have access to a comprehensive database on ALL things placenta to be able to answer any question that you (or your care provider) have. I operate with integrity, safety, and efficiency.

I am worried about the smell…

If your home is properly ventilated with a working hood above the stove and if you’d like a window open, then there is little to no smell. Some describe what smell there is as gingery and like cooked liver. Any smell dissipates quickly once encapsulation is complete.

What if I have an epidural/c-section?

Many moms I encapsulate for have epidurals or cesareans and 9 out of 10 times, the doctor releases the placenta without problem. These new moms benefit as much as those who had un-medicated ‘natural’ births. In some ways, even more, because placenta hormones act as a natural pain reliever to give mom relief during what is a sensitive, vulnerable time. I have moms take the capsules and tea, and not need any other painkiller. Same goes for stitches or epidural after-effects. Updated research on capsules here.

Why do you use a TCM method? 

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), new moms are considered cold (yin) inside after releasing blood and baby (yang) during birth. One way to return heat (yang) and a flowing balance of energy is to consume “warm” food, such as cooked and/or warm food; including how a placenta is prepared for ingestion.

The TCM method I use to prepare a placenta is one that has been used for centuries and involves a steaming process. I do not offer RAW encapsulation because this method has a cooling effect and can cause a new mom to feel ‘cold’ inside. Ingesting raw placenta is also not a good idea from a food safety perspective. What we want to do is warm the new mother. To contract, not expand. To calm, not stimulate. To ground her in body, mind, and spirit.

Placenta capsules made with a TCM-method are warming to counteract cold and re-establish homeostasis, rebuild blood (chi), and regulate the endocrine functions (thyroid, adrenals) for good metabolism, sleep, and mood. The tea and tincture that I make also has a similar effect.

This method allows you to save any remaining capsules for future use (i.e. returning to work or other stressful situations and menopause). Stored properly, capsules and the nutrients and hormones within, remain potent.

Why TCM capsules and not raw? 

I am trained to prepare capsules with a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) method. This is a safe, potent way to ingest placenta capsules. The steaming process I use breaks down the cell walls of the placental tissue; allowing your body to easily access the vitamins, protein, and hormones stored there. Research shows the iron levels in a placenta doubles when prepared using a TCM-method.

Placenta carries bacteria, viruses, and other blood borne pathogens. This is another reason not to ingest raw placenta capsules. The bacteria, and all that exist on and in the placenta and surrounding blood, are inherent in the body and vaginal canal, but once the placenta is born it is exposed to oxygen and the bacteria quickly take on life of their own.

Downsides of raw capsules: Increase postnatal bleeding, decrease breast milk production, cool body, inhibit healing. For these reasons and more, I prepare capsules with a cooked TCM method on file with the FDA. 

How many capsules do I get?

Each placenta varies in size, but most women receive 100-200 capsules (115 average) for postpartum recovery. You’ll use about 85 capsules in immediate postpartum period and freeze rest or choose to take until gone. Your body makes what you need and your placenta is perfect size for you!

What if baby comes early or late? 

If more than 14 days overdue from EDD, or have baby earlier then 14 days before, you are still a client and guaranteed service. There is simply a chance I may not be able to encapsulate within 3 days of birth. If this occurs, you will receive instructions to freeze placenta for brief period of time. Frozen properly, hormones and nutrients within placental tissue remain intact.

Will health insurance cover placenta encapsulation service?

This is a question for your insurance company. Most do not. If you have history of PPD you may have better luck. If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) through insurance then this service might be covered.

Contradictions to ingest placenta? 

Placenta capsules made with TCM method have a warming nature that move blood and tonify reproductive organs. If a new mom has an existing “warm” condition (mastitis, flu, infection) the capsules can interfere with her body’s ability to cool down. This is why recommended to stop taking capsules until symptoms of chills, fever, or aches are no longer present.

The only true contraindication for placentophagy would be a uterine infection that affected the placenta (as in, there is or could potentially be an infection in the placental tissue). All other situations as listed below would have to be considered by the care provider.

Contraindications when a placenta may be unable to encapsulate:

  • Chorioamnionitis (infection of the membranes).
  • Maternal infection during or immediately after labor/delivery.
  • Neonatal infection within the first 48 hours postpartum.
  • Improper storage  of the placenta.
    • Not placed on ice within 2 hours of delivery.
    • Refrigerated longer than 72 hours before being frozen.
    • Placenta not kept under 40°F for the entire storage
  • Active infections that may be reacquired.
    • Lyme Disease
    • Clostridium difficile, commonly referred to as C. Diff
  • Mom regularly used tobacco during pregnancy (heavy metals can remain in placenta tissue) – if only for a brief time then up to mom.

Special circumstances that are not contraindications to placenta encapsulation are: Sexually Transmitted Infections (i.e. HSV, HPV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea), meconium staining, GBS+, Gestational Diabetes, HELLP, PUPPS (some pupp moms wait a few weeks before starting capsules), use of antibiotics during labor, cesarean, epidurals, spinal anesthesia, IV medication (i.e., Nubain, Pitocin, Mag Sulfate).

Having an epidural, induction, or cesarean  birth does not typically interfere with the TCM encapsulation process. 

My placenta is in freezer, can I encapsulate?

If placenta was frozen shortly after birth and not damaged from “freezer-burn”, it will hold medicinal value. If frozen longer than 6 months, its hormonal potency will have decreased (or reduced to nil) but nutritional value may be present. I encapsulated my placenta when my son was 5 and felt something 😉 Never say never.

How much does this cost?

See pricing page. Scholarships and barters available. Discounts to teen and single moms. Like my Instagram page for occasional specials. In case a mom is unable to obtain her placenta due to high fever, infection you will be refunded all but non-refundable deposit ($50). Refund processed within 2 weeks of request. How about gathering a bunch of friends to purchase a certificate for an expectant mom’s baby shower gift?? Due to the nature of this business, no surprise gifts please 🙂 

Disclaimer: Benefits of placenta encapsulation are supported by ongoing research. However, statements here are not evaluated by FDA and my service is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Please make decision to consume placenta with a care provider. I am not a medical doctor, practitioner, or herbalist. Those utilizing this service take full responsibility for using capsules, tea, and tincture at own risk

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