The Benefits of Placenta Encapsulation
An interview with birth doula, Shanay Hall
By Eileen Bernardi
Originally from Perth, Australia, Shanay has been living in Berlin since 2014. Inspired by the loving midwife and doula who assisted her in her own home birth in 2012, Shanay decided to pursue a career helping spread the positive knowledge surrounding childbirth. While she believes that giving birth can be such a different experience for every woman, it always brings with it knowledge, growth and personal discovery.
As a birth doula, Shanay’s mission is to support women throughout their pregnancy and labor by offering emotional stability and physical comfort. She helps give women the confidence they need to determine which birth method is right for her and her family. She also encourages fathers to participate as much as their comfort level allows, and assists new parents in their first few months, working as a night doula.
Since 2015, Shanay has also been working as a placenta encapsulation specialist. Since I didn’t know much about placenta encapsulation myself, I thought it would be a great opportunity to ask all my burning questions. And now I’m just kicking myself that I didn’t do it after the birth of my two children!
What is placenta encapsulation?
Placenta encapsulation can be an amazing way for women to bounce back after pregnancy. After my first daughter was born, I had a great post-partum period, thanks to ingesting my placenta. I drank a smoothie with a small piece of my placenta straight after the birth which is meant to help with bleeding. Placenta encapsulation is when a woman’s placenta is put into pill form for her to ingest as an aide in the postpartum period (aka the 4th trimester). Usually mothers take the pills for 4-6 weeks, longer if needed.
How is placenta encapsulation done?
Using the traditional chinese method (TCM), the placenta is washed, then steamed, and then dehydrated and blended into a powder form. This powder is put into capsules to be taken by mouth. Some women opt for ingesting raw placenta or drinking a placenta smoothie, but this is only available in some cases depending on the birth outcome. The average woman’s placenta makes between 100-280 pills. Dosage varies according to the individual, and is something that my clients and I customize accordingly. Sometimes, in Germany, a small pea-sized amount of placenta is made into homeopathic remedies for mother and baby, but the pills I make are intended only for mothers. Of course, both methods are options.
What are the benefits of placenta encapsulation?
According to traditional Chinese medicine, our bodies become naturally cold after giving birth, so applying chi (life) warmth back into the body helps restore iron and hormone levels, increases milk production and energy, and decreases stress, hair loss and postpartum depression. These benefits are very common among my clients.
Are there any potential risks?
Storing the placenta incorrectly can pose a risk, which is why I work closely with my clients to make sure they understand how to correctly store the placenta and ensure they have proper cooling methods at the place of birth. Pills must be stored in a cold, dark place or the fridge. In addition, if either the mother or baby have an infection at birth, or if the placenta was sent to pathology for testing, I wouldn’t be able to encapsulate. Also, women should be cautious about taking iron supplements along with the placenta pills, as this is too much iron intake and might result in diarrhea.
What is the cost?
Prices can vary from 200€-300€, depending on whether it’s a multiple birth, travel time involved and doula/ repeat clients. An umbilical cord keepsake and placenta prints are included in the cost.
Shanay is a PBi certified placenta encapsulation specialist based in Berlin and a member of the Wunder Stories community.