Placenta Encapsulation – Why Placenta Pills Are Booming

Placenta Encapsulation - Why Placenta Pills Are Booming

Mothers around the world are raving about placenta encapsulation.

“I had it done for my 4th [birth]. Best thing ever. Great milk supply. Less stress. More energy. Best thing I have done to aid in post birth recovery. Look into it especially if you suffer from post natal depression.” — Claire

But when speaking to others, if you happen to mention eating a placenta (or ‘placentophagy’ as it’s scientifically known), you’ll usually have their stomach churning.

Being the open-minded person that I am, I decided to take a closer look at what seems to be an increasingly growing trend.

Placentophagy is often joked about, even labeled as cannibalism by some people, particularly in western cultures.

I’d bet those who joke about it don’t even realise that placentas have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) since the 1500s, which is longer than modern medicine has existed.

Placenta consumption has continued due to the belief of an abundance of great properties, which may make a huge difference to a new mother’s mental health, recovery and well being.

Cultures who find it customary to prepare the placenta for the mother (or are known to consume part or all of the placenta) include the Chinese, Vietnamese, Hungarians and Italians.

These cultures believe the placenta to be rich in nutrients, which will greatly assist the mother to recover from childbirth. This includes slowing and stopping haemorrhage during childbirth and helping with milk supply.

We know animals consume the placentas of their offspring, but what about humans?

It may sounds gross, but if you want to talk about bodily products which sound disgusting, who would’ve thought we’d be drinking milk from cow’s udders? Imagine the person who thought it’d be a great idea to do that for the first time!

I’m sure it sounded disgusting to everyone else at the time – milk from a wild animal’s unwashed body.

Today, it’s totally acceptable. Even though cows don’t drink their own milk, just their babies. Heck, we even eat an array of animal organs too.

Placenta Encapsulation and Placenta Pills

Even celebrities are getting into the placenta action.

Celebrities and Placenta Encapsulation

Hollywood actress January Jones raved about placenta consumption, when talking to the media.

More recently, Kim Kardashian announced on her show that she’d be eating her baby’s placenta.

Mothers Talk About Placenta Encapsulation

Kathryn, mother of two with one on the way, explains that she decided to try placenta encapsulation after hearing about the emotional benefits, given she had a history of severe depression.

“I had a really traumatic birth with my son, and suffered from severe post natal depression and post traumatic stress disorder. I even tried taking my own life. I hated the medications the doctors gave me, as they left me sleepy, with mood swings or feeling high, so I started looking into natural ways to help myself, along side birth trauma sessions.”

Emma, mother to a three month old baby, wasn’t sure how she found out about placenta encapsulation, and wasn’t warm to the idea at first either.

“I was aware of consuming the placenta prior to my pregnancy, but I think I read about making capsules out of it somewhere early in my pregnancy. I’m a uni student doing a degree in naturopathy, so I did a lot of research early on about how to make my pregnancy and birth as natural as possible. I think my original reaction was, ‘ew, I’m NOT doing that!’ But my doula had a chat with me a few times about it and I ended up curious, and in the end I did it.”

Mothers who take placenta pills feel more information needs to be available, so pregnant women can reap the benefits of placenta encapsulation.

Kathryn says, “My view on it is if people were more educated about placenta encapsulation they may be more willing to try it. Western women have not been exposed to what other women from other countries do, post birth. Placenta pills have been done in eastern countries for many centuries.”

Emma shares the same sentiment. “I totally understand people being completely freaked out about it, it’s not exactly something that society openly talks about. Everyone is a bit sensitive to anything outside the ‘norm’, so they don’t try and understand or learn about the reasons people do things. To them, the thought of chugging down something that’s been inside you is too much to bear! I’ve had enough strange reactions to the fact I didn’t want drugs in my labour, that I used my own cord-ties and so on. So for me, I’m used to weird reactions, and it didn’t bother me at all.”

So, instead of, ‘why on earth would you eat a placenta?!’, my question to you would be ‘why on earth not?!’

What Are The Benefits Of Placenta Encapsulation?

It’s believed consuming the placenta can:

  • Help to balance your hormones
  • Replenish depleted iron levels
  • Assist the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy state
  • Reduce post-natal bleeding
  • Increase milk production – this has been proven in a study
  • Make for a happier, more enjoyable post-natal period
  • Increase your energy levels

In a recent article about the booming business of placenta pills in the Courier Mail, Sunnybank Private Hospital maternity services chair, Doctor Stephen Elgey, said the argument that placenta ingestion could elevate a new mother’s irons levels “made sense”. He was also quoted as saying, “The evidence of the benefits is lacking, however there’s also no evidence of harm.”

We desperately need human research and studies on placenta consumption, especially since so many women find similar outcomes after birth. Going by mother’s claims, who knows, perhaps it could reduce the amount of women who suffer from mood disorders postnatally. This would be a great achievement.

Up to 80% of women experience the baby blues within the first week of birth. Women who consume their placenta report fewer emotional issues and a more enjoyable babymoon. Who wouldn’t want that?!

“I didn’t get the day 3 blues, which usually has me in a blubbering mess. My post-partum bleed was less, too. I had my mum here staying with me, so that may have helped, but I felt happier in myself, and my milk came in quicker. Overall, the first 2 weeks after my baby was born just seemed to sail by, and my hubby had no time off work this time around either. So I was here living far from town with five children, and I coped better than when I had my second!” — Rebecca

“The placenta pills helped me greatly. It lowered my depression, it boosted my iron levels, boosted my milk supply and lowered my post birth bleed. I use it while I have my periods too, it helps to control my bleeding and mood swings, and helps me boost my vitamin intake. It’s currently helping me to support my current pregnancy – no need for vitamins here.” — Kathryn

“I healed quite quickly, and felt like I bounced back from the birth quickly as well. Haemorrhage is something that runs through the family — mum and my grandmother both had that problem, but I didn’t, and that could possibly be due to the placenta. It was hard to take the first few tablets, just the thought of what I was taking put me off for a moment. But in the end, I was quite sad when I took my last few.” — Emma

What Is The Process To Turn Placentas Into Pills?

Once you have organised someone to provide the encapsulation services for you, they will want to collect the placenta within 48 hours of the birth. This is for a few reasons.

Firstly, this is for health and safety reasons. But just as importantly, because you are likely to feel at your lowest on day four or five, it’s ideal to have your encapsulated placenta pills back as soon as possible, to help you through.

Ideally your placenta has been refrigerated soon after the birth – some service providers will not encapsulate the placenta if it’s been out for too long.

Another reason some encapsulators may not be prepared to encapsulate your placenta is if the placenta has been birthed in water. They believe it may result in an increased chance of contamination, from matter in the water. However, many encapsulators do not have a problem with waterbirthed placentas, as they thoroughly clean the placenta, and have not had any problems doing so.

The placenta will take around a day to prepare and dehydrate (if you have frozen your placenta, you need to add an extra day). Firstly, it’s washed well, and any clots and blood are removed.

Depending on the method they use, some placenta encapsulators then steam the placenta (with or without herbs), and others just go straight to the next step of dehydrating the placenta. Following this, the placenta is then ground down into powder form and placed into capsules – so it ends up looking like any other herbs you might take in capsule form.

Following this, the placenta is then ground down into powder form and placed into capsules – so it ends up looking like any other herbs you might take in capsule form.

You can begin taking the capsules as soon as you receive them, storing them in a dark cupboard at room temperature in most climates. Some prefer to put them in the fridge, but take care not to get them wet or they will dissolve. If you live in a tropical or humid climate, the freezer will be the best place to prevent mould. You can expect to receive around 100-200 capsules, which can be frozen for storage if you want to use them for balancing hormones at another time.

You can expect to receive around 100-200 capsules, which can be frozen for storage if you want to use them for balancing hormones at another time.

Placenta encapsulators have varying schedules – some are also midwives, doulas, natural health practitioners etc, so check with them to be certain on how long it will take once they have your placenta. Some encapsulators offer an in-home service as well as out of home.

“My placenta was taken from the hospital after our VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) by our doula, she than steamed it, dehydrated it, crushed it into a fine powder and capped it into vegan veggie caps ready to consume.” — Kathryn

What Does Placenta Taste Like?

If you’re having your placenta encapsulated, the dried out placenta is like taking any other herb, fully enclosed in a capsule. Mothers report no taste or aftertaste this way. If you choose to consume the placenta any other way, it would be a different story altogether!

“It had no taste for me, might be different if not encapsulated. No aftertaste. I swallowed mine with a glass of red wine as per the instructions I found on the internet!” — Rebecca

Personally, I have found them to have a similar (but milder) taste to iron supplements, but it’s not anywhere near as bad as taking liquid iron!

Is Placenta Encapsulation Clean and Safe?

Naturally, a concern for some women would be the safety and cleanliness of the encapsulation process. It’s important you discuss any concerns with the person who prepares your placenta, so you are aware of how they do it. It may help relieve any anxiety or stress about taking them.

After the birth, placentas are washed and clots are removed, which also removes any maternal blood.

Most placentas prepared off-site are done one at a time, to prevent mix-ups. Placenta encapsulation isn’t quite the high demand, fast moving service, so it’s unlikely that your provider will be working on others while preparing yours. None the less, you could always ask the placenta encapsulator if they can do it in your home — even with your own utensils — if you are particularly concerned.

Surgical grade steel is usually used, gloves, and hospital grade disinfectant.

Philippa, a doula from Queensland, helped to reassure a mother with GBS (group B strep) who was concerned about her placenta capsules being affected.

“We had a capsule tested at the local hospital pathology lab here in Townsville – a friendly midwife asked the lab to test it. The results came back saying that the capsule was one of the cleanest things she has ever seen.”

Also, see our article, Is Placenta Encapsulation Safe For GBS Positive Mothers?

How Much Does Placenta Encapsulation Cost?

The cost of placenta encapsulation varies between service providers, and some provide a cheaper service if you’re already a client (e.g. if you’ve hired them as your doula). At the time of writing this article, most services had prices around $200-$400 depending on what was included. It would be much cheaper if you chose to do it yourself.

Rebecca says, “It cost us about $30 for the encapsulating machine with capsules off eBay. Would have been nothing if I wanted to swallow small frozen raw pieces or made into a smoothie!”

“It cost me nothing because I did it myself. I have a food dehydrator and the capsule maker so I didn’t see the point in paying someone else to do it. My doula does offer it as a service but I never asked how much she charges for it,” says Emma

Right after you’ve had a baby, it can be handy to have someone experienced come in and take care of the placenta for you while you focus on your new baby. No mess, no fuss.

If you don’t have all the right utensils, it may end up being more trouble doing it yourself – you could even end up with smelly or stained utensils which you may never want to use again! But if money is a huge factor for you, you can research and look into ways of doing it yourself.

What Research or Evidence Exists on Placentophagy?

Unfortunately there has been very little human research done into placentophagy. The Placenta Benefits website does have some related research information, but no major studies have been done.

However, it does make sense that at a time in your life when your hormones are under a major upheaval and you have lost a great deal of blood (leaving you prone to iron deficiency if you aren’t deficient already), the placenta can provide these needs.

It may help avoid iron deficiency by providing it in an easily absorbed form, as well as avoid the side effects. Iron deficiency can leave you feeling depressed and with a low mood.

Despite the lack of human studies, women who’ve had their placenta encapsulated swear by it and recommend it to others.

When asked if she’d recommend placenta encapsulation to others, Emma said, “Definitely. We put so much energy and so many of our vitamins and minerals and even hormones into growing these little angels that I think it’s important to put as much back in as we can. It’s something that’s been practiced for hundreds even thousands of years, to me nature knows best and doing what we’re designed to do is important. As a naturopath I’m hoping to work with pregnancy, birth and beyond so it’s something I will definitely recommend to my clients and may even offer it as a service.”

What Is My Personal Opinion On Placenta Encapsulation?

After writing this article, I gave birth my third baby after a very big gap. I had no idea about placenta encapsulation with my first two children.

After taking encapsulated placenta, my own personal opinion is: DO IT!

After struggling with iron levels for as many years as I can remember, my ferritin level (an important measure of iron – ask what your ferritin level is if getting your iron tested) has been below 10, before and after having children. Despite taking supplements it would keep dropping down due to having

Despite taking supplements, my ferritin levels kept dropping down, due to having heavy periods after giving birth.

But for the first time I could remember, my ferritin level was at an incredible 50, ten months after giving birth to my third child.

Placenta encapsulation is the only difference I can put it down to.

My partner couldn’t believe how well I was coping with sleep deprivation. While I did feel somewhat tired, it wasn’t the blinding tiredness I had with my other two – and I am much older this time around! I cannot recommend placenta encapsulation highly enough.

Some of the biggest risk factors for postnatal depression and anxiety are a lack of sleep, exhaustion and a lack of support.

Low iron can result in feeling depressed and exhausted – imagine how much harder motherhood would be with low iron, and the exhaustion that comes with it? Could the placenta be nature’s anti-depressant?

More research is definitely warranted, and some is on the way. However, my experience, as well as everyone else’s, is more than enough for me to be convinced that our fellow mammals are right on the money consuming their placentas. Even if you’re not convinced, when you’re stuck in the fog of postnatal depression or exhaustion, you’d do anything to get out of it.

There may be a chance to potentially avoid it in the first place.

Interested In Having Placenta Encapsulation Or Have More Questions?

If you’d like more information or if you’re looking for someone who can encapsulate your placenta, check out who’s listed in the BellyBelly Marketplace in the Placenta Encapsulation section, which is available for those in Australia and the US.

Here’s an interview with Jodi Selander, the founder of Placenta Benefits in the US.

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Kelly Winder is the creator of, a writer, doula (trained in 2005), and a mother of three awesome children. She's passionate about informing and educating fellow thinking parents and parents-to-be, especially about all the things she wishes she knew before she had her firstborn. Kelly is also passionate about travel, tea, travel, and animal rights and welfare. And travel.


  1. What you say is a misappropriation of evidence. A placenta’s main function is as a filtration system that stores the fetus’ waste, so it is filled with urea and uric acid. Contained inside a placenta are toxic heavy metals including mercury, lead and cadmium. In its role as a filter, it is also responsible for shielding the fetus against microbial bacteria that could potentially harm the developing fetus. Just because the Chinese did it thousands of years ago doesn’t mean that it is beneficial in any way. These were the types of people who, while they have provided our species with many benefits and insights, believed in alchemy and astrology. Furthermore, any positive feelings people alleged to feel after consumption of placenta is a simple manifestation of the placebo effect. The reason animals in the wild eat it so that flies won’t come to spread infection and scavengers won’t move into the vicinity and eat the newborns. Just because it is a common occurrence in the wild, it does in no way imply that it has any benefits to us.

    1. Brae,
      The placenta is a transport system, not a filtration system
      A fetus’ waste is delivered back to the mothers body to be disposed of.
      The chinese medicine practices still have human placenta currently in their list of herbal treatments.
      The same argument for mammals in the wild eating it still leave blood on the ground along with remnants, so it is not about infection nor scavengers.
      Evolution is something currently being studied considering we may have evolved from sea mammals, who don’t eat their placenta, however we are now land mammals and this may now be becoming a bigger part of our post birth recover due to many modern practices interfering with a natural birth recovery process.
      Regardless, there are tens of thousands of women around the world that report amazing results. Who cares if its a placebo or not, if someone who suffered postnatal phychosis the first time around the second birth time engages in the placentophagia practice and shows zero signs of even depression. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing, especially if its not a chemical running through her body that changes her brain chemistry artificially?
      It’s not for all people, but a great resource for those who do.

      1. well said Dee! It is not for everyone but for those who do want to do it good for you! My daughter consumed her encapsulated placenta and has nothing but good thing to say about it. I wish I knew about it when I was having my children. I certainly would have done it.

      2. Dee I dont think you understand that the placenta as any wiki article will tell you is responsible for not only regulating the babies nutrition and growth stimulation but also for filtering the mothers blood that the baby will share. This means that the placenta will dehydrated and ground into pills or not contain high amounts of heavy metal such as mercury and lead both of which are harmful in high amounts. Further more it the argument that child birth will leave blood on the ground and attract predators wether or not a placenta is left behind is untrue as most predators can not obtain adequate enough food from left over blood to course them to linger in local vicinty. A placenta however a relatively good feed however and will course scavengers to inhabit that region and thus the wild animals must compete with new scavengers for food. Further more while high levels of mercury and lead may not harm a mother they can could potentially course growth and development issues in a developing infant with a lower BMI. As the placenta much like the kidney operates of simple diffusion it can only filter out around 50% of these heavy metals meaning prolonged use of these placenta pills can potentially course growth and development problems in a growing baby even still birth.

        1. I wonder if you eat ALL organic, no meat, and don’t vaccinate. Not being coy, but you must lead an extremely healthy and free from all harm lifetyle to even entertain these ideas about opposing the benefits of placenta encapsulation and ingestion.

  2. I hope that someday soon there will be some good double blind studies on the benefits/risks of placentophagy and inquiry into the nutritional and hormonal contents of the cooked/dried placenta.
    So many of the same people who scoff at anecdotal “evidence” are the strongest supporters of placental encapsulation. I for one would welcome the science behind this practice.

    BTW, The placenta has three primary functions: providing the fetus with oxygen and nutrients, removing waste and producing hormones such as human chrorionic gonadotropin, progesterone and estrogen.

  3. It makes sense why there have been no studies on the pros/cons of humans ingesting their placenta. Imagine how much money Big Pharma would lose!

    1. I agree Big Pharma has too much to lose if we all start using nature to assist us in being healthy. I am a huge supporter of using anything natural at my disposal for my health. We have to be diligent in our own research because even your doctor, who makes thousands of $$yearly by prescribing the prescriptions, won’t usually let you in on natural remedies. Too bad The doctors who are willing to help you are never covered under your insurance plans, just as most chiropractors aren’t covered fully. They are considered quacks by the so called medical field. Why should they, the insurance companies, be able to determine how we choose to stay healthy? Now I pay all this $$ for insurance and hardly ever go to the doctor because I listen to my body and take care of myself.

  4. My biggest concern is how the placentae are processed. I know they are prepared in the homes of people who encapsulate placentae. I also know they collect more than 1 placenta for processing each day. They use household bleach to clean their preparation equipment and utensils. How can one be certain it’s safe? That I am getting only my placenta with no traces of another’s placenta? We’re talking about human tissue here.

  5. I have a huge question I had my placenta encapsulated and used them for probably a week and stopped I felt like I did not need them I was so happy everything going so well I was busy and just forgot. My baby is now 7 months I have PPD majorly I cry when I wake up for no reason like another day of this “mom” stuff I don’t want to feel like this I want to enjoy my daughter more then anything. Basically what I am asking is can I start taking her placenta pills even though she’s 7 months. They were stored in a safe area. Can I start taking them now just like I should have took them in the beginning? If not obviously I know speak to my dr and all that but I want to try the placenta pills first I just want to make sure they are safe that I can take them now. Thank you so much

    1. Yes you can take them now too. Many women store them away for menopause and other areas of hormonal imbalance. There are a few big reasons behind postnatal depression that you might like to take a look at too. Lack of sleep, lack of support and relationship issues are all huge causes of distress in new and not so new mothers. If this is true for you, please reach out for help. x

  6. While you are all fighting about what the placenta actually does I am over here trying to figure out how this isn’t cannibalism. How is eating an organ any different then me eating a removed kidney or taking a bite out of my arm because someone told me it would make me feel better. Hospitals consider this medical waste for a reason…

  7. To Stephanie or anyone’s who’s asking, I don’t see how you think that this is Cannibalism??? Its not like Mother’s are walking around eating everyone’s placenta??? However the nutrients that the placenta gives back to the Mother or even Father after consumption regardless of its functions is far more healthier than any over the counter vitamin or prenatal pill any Dr can prescribed. I believe its the Mother rights to discard or consume of the remains as she please!! Now if the hospital that you are delivering at disagrees with the Mother wishes they should be sued because still in all its apart of the baby (belly cord & placenta) & if it wasn’t cut it too would be going home with Mother & baby’ only a open minded person would understand. Once the little piece of belly cord falls off you save it right for memories? Its the same thing as a Mother healing herself if possible thru her own placenta which is organic not artificial.

  8. Quick question: I had my placenta encapsulated, during the birth I had a cold quite bad. I got over it within a few days then upon taking my capsules it returned. I stopped taking them was all better feeling. I started taking them again 2 days ago and now I’m so sick with this cold again. Is there anyway it would be carried in the dry placenta?

  9. As a trained and practising Holistic Health Practitioner (have also studied Chinese Medicine) with a specialty in pregnant women, I can tell you that the placenta does indeed carry toxins. Ask any OBGYN about whether or not they can tell if a mother has smoked during pregnancy – it leaves a smudgy film on the outside of the placenta. The placenta delivers nutrients but it’s also baby’s last line of defence against environmental toxins. Yes, the placenta carries nutrients (most are lost during the processing stages) but also carries toxins too. I have had many clients who have encapsulated their placentas and most said that they didn’t notice any difference. A couple developed rashes and migraines, which soon disappeared after I told them to stop taking the tablets. Migraines are linked to heavy metals on the brain.

    Various herbs and foods help stimulate good milk supply, and certain herbs and foods limit milk supply. Milk supply and breastfeeding are also connected to our emotions/mentality. Which is why milk can leak from the breast just from hearing our babies cry, or just thinking about them. It’s important to drink plenty of water and to keep a healthy mind. Dehydration, doubt, and fatigue also affect milk supply.

    Animals also eat their newborn’s faeces, does that mean we should adopt this too because they eat the placenta? Chinese Medicine also uses rhino horns, tiger claws, elephant tusks – doesn’t mean we have to too! Not one medical practice is completely accurate – some parts are, some parts aren’t. There are flaws in both Eastern and Western practices and it’s important to combine the accurate parts of both!

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