Conditions / Ailments /Contraindications The Can Affect Encapsulation

At Midwest Placenta we like to prepare clients ahead of time as there are things that can happen that may iGBSnterfere with encapsulation. This way you can be prepared and piece together any uncertainties during pregnancy, labor, birth and shortly after that can affect the ability to encapsulate the placenta.

The goal of this information is not to cause fear/anxiety of things that can affect encapsulation, but to give mothers clarity of possible problems and outcomes. The goal is to help parents make informed decisions by being given information that aligns with their values/risk level.

Medical Contraindications:

The placenta cannot be encapsulated when diagnosed with the following:

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C
  • Ebola
  • Choriocarcinoma (cancer of the placenta)
  • Maternal or infant infection postpartum

Situational Contraindications:

  • Doctor/Facility Not Releasing the Placenta
    • You DO NOT need the doctor’s or hospital’s “permission” to keep your placenta
    • It is currently illegal in all 50 states to prevent parents from keeping placenta, it’s considered a “trespass to the person” and can even be considered a type of bodily battery if they try.
    • You DO NOT have to share your reasoning for keeping the placenta. They need to be respectful of all culture/religious/choices/values surrounding your placenta.
    • Keep the placenta in your possession, in your hospital room. As it is difficult to get the placenta back once taken by staff, and you cannot be clear of how the placenta was cared for/stored while away.
    • Assign dad, doula, birth partner, another family member, etc. to advocate for the placenta to avoid loss/contamination since you’ll be recovering and likely with new baby.
    • Depending on the policies of your provider/facility, you may be required to sign a ‘release form’ or ‘liability form’ in order to keep your placenta.
  • Pathology
    • Once the full placenta is sent to pathology, encapsulation is no longer recommended. It is often exposed to preserving chemicals, sanitization measures, examination equipment, not-ideal storage, etc. 
    • Ask if a small section of placenta can be sent to pathology instead, and you can keep the rest of the placenta on ice/refrigerated/frozen until results of pathology are returned. Ask for this to be completed in your room, to ensure safe handling and avoid mishaps. If pathology is returned as normal, the placenta can then be sent out for encapsulation.
    • Be prepared with these questions:
      • “Will the medical knowledge obtained from pathology of the placenta potentially change the recommended care for me or child?”
      • “Would a piece of placenta being sent to pathology suffice rather than the whole organ?”
      • “Would the medical information desired be obtainable by an in-room visual examination or a blood test rather than sending the placenta to pathology?”
    • You have the legal right to informed refusal of placenta being taken to pathology
    • You can ask for a second opinion. Keep the placenta in your possession (cooled on ice in prepared cooler) while waiting on second opinion
  • Substance Abuse
    • Smoking and drug use can cause toxin buildup within the placenta.
    • Consumption is not recommended if mother had heavy drug/cigarette use or  consumed 3+ alcoholic drinks a day during pregnancy.
    • Cannabis use is generally considered safe.
  • Meconium
    • Meconium is sterile and general only considered harmful if baby inhales.
    • Encapsulation is still available with the TCM/Heated method. RAW encapsulation is not recommended. The placenta is rinsed prior to encapsulation and the heating/dehydration process helps eliminate surface bacteria.
    • If meconium is present for over 1 hour, physical changes may occur to the placenta. The placenta will show heavy meconium presence during our 6 point initial exam and we will contact you for next steps if this happens. 
    • An additional step of a 10 minute distilled apple cider vinegar (ACV) bath is added.
    • If client continues with raw consumption against advisement, results could be similar to food poisoning symptoms. It is up to the client to make an informed decision.
  • Bacterial Contamination
    • Surface contamination, can occur from things such as unclean surfaces during a home birth, accidental exposure at birth center/hospital birth to unsanitized surface, ungloved hands, etc.
    • An additional step of a 10 minute distilled apple cider vinegar (ACV) bath is added.
    • TCM/Heated method may be advised depending on degree and length of possible contamination. The placenta is rinsed prior to encapsulation and the heating/dehydration process helps eliminate surface bacteria.
    • If client continues with raw consumption against advisement, results could be similar to food poisoning symptoms. It is up to the client to make an informed decision
  • Bacterial Infection
    • If mother and/or baby have an active infection of ANY KIND, the placenta should not be encapsulated. The infection can be retained in the placenta and can possibly reinfect baby/mother when the capsules are consumed.
    • Placenta should not be consumed if an active infection is present or if 2 or more of the below signs of infection are present:
      • Long lasting maternal fever of 100.4+
      • Infant fever of any kind
      • Foul smelling/discolored discharge and/or amniotic fluid
      • Foul smelling/discolored placenta tissue
  • Maternal Fecal Matter
    • Encapsulation is still available with the TCM/Heated method. RAW encapsulation is not recommended. The placenta is rinsed prior to encapsulation and the heating/dehydration process helps eliminate surface bacteria.
    • An additional step of a 10 minute distilled apple cider vinegar (ACV) bath is added.
    • If client continues with raw consumption against advisement, results could be similar to food poisoning symptoms. It is up to the client to make an informed decision.

Pregnancy Ailments/Conditions and How They Affect Encapsulation:

  • Group Beta Strep
    • If it’s just a positive GBS colonization and not an active GBS infection you can still utilize placenta encapsulation with the TCM/Heated method. RAW encapsulation, raw salves, and/or raw tinctures is not recommended. .
    • Placenta can be dehydrated at a higher temperature for first hour of dehydrating.
    • In July of 2017 the CDC released a case study on a newborn who had a recurrent GBS infection after the mother had her placenta encapsulated. According to the APPA (Association of Placenta Preparation Arts)… “Shortly after the birth the newborn showed signs of infection and tested positive for GBS. Due to the immediate onset of newborn infection, this placenta should not have been encapsulated. Maternal or fetal infection at or immediately following the time of delivery is an absolute contraindication to encapsulation. It is unsafe to encapsulate in these cases. The encapsulation specialist had a responsibility to verify with the client that an infection was not present.” (source APPA – 1)
    • It is vital that you let me know if any type of infection presents itself after birth. At that point ingestion of the placenta is not recommended and I will cease the process of encapsulating.
  • PUPPPS
    • Clients can continue with encapsulation, but will need to take a supplement to support liver function.
    • Consumption may or may not cause symptoms (such as hive-like rash) to re-emerge once clear. It all depends on how your body reacts. It is up to the client to make an informed decision once educated on chances of re-exposure happening. I like clients to be well informed with all possibilities, regardless of how slight, so they can be well informed.
  • Chorioamnionitis:
    • Chorioamnionitis is considered inflammation of amniotic sac resulting in uterine bacterial infection. The placenta will have yeasty odor with slight yellowing of fetal side tissue.
    • This can be caused by amniotic sac rupture for 24+ hours, numerous vaginal exams during pregnancy, scalp monitoring during labor, etc.
    • Placenta should not be consumed if an active infection is present, or if 2 or more of the below signs of infection are present:
      • Long lasting maternal fever of 100.4+
      • Infant fever of any kind
      • Foul smelling/discolored discharge and/or amniotic fluid
      • Foul smelling/discolored placenta tissue
    • If chorioamnionitis is suspected, a small piece of placenta can be sent to pathology to see if active infection is present. Do not allow whole placenta to be sent to pathology (see more in pathology section). If pathology returns with positive infection, encapsulation of any kind is not recommended.
  • Cholestasis
    • Clients can continue with encapsulation, but will need to take a supplement to support liver function while continuing with placenta encapsulation.
    • Be advised consumption may or may not cause symptoms (such as itching of hands, feet, etc.) to re-emerge once clear, due to consuming placenta. It all depends on how your body reacts, if is up to the client to make an informed decision once educated on chances of re-exposure happening. I like clients to be well informed with all possibilities (regardless of how slight) so they can be well informed. It is up to the client to make an informed decision.
  • STD/STIs
    • Since mother is already carrying such infection/disease in her body, encapsulation is still available with the TCM/Heated method. RAW encapsulation is not recommended. No raw salves, powdered salves, or raw tinctures will be available.
  • Gestational Diabetes
    • The ability to encapsulate is not affected for either diet controlled or insulin controlled gestational diabetes.
    • Encapsulation is considered safe, however mother should monitor blood sugars for the first 4-5 days of using capsules.
    • The mother should take the recommended capsule dose and then check blood sugar 1 hour later.
    • If no blood sugar spike takes place, the consumption can be continued as normal.
    • If blood sugar spike (over 100) takes place, discontinue consumption for 7 days and try again.
    • Symptoms of GD are usually gone within 2 weeks postpartum, and capsules can usually be taken past that point without issue.
  • Pre-Eclampsia
    • If pre-eclampsia was developed in late pregnancy or during labor, the placenta can still be encapsulated as long as your provider does not detect an issue or infection of the placenta. Your provider may want your placenta to be sent to pathology (see more in pathology section).
  • Genetic Conditions:
    • Genetic abnormalities are present in the placenta, as the placenta is made with a combination of mother’s, father’s, and baby’s DNA.
    • Cerebral Palsy: Encapsulation is considered safe as long there is not an active infection. The hospital will probably request the placenta to go to pathology (see more in pathology section).
    • Cystic Fibrosis (CF): Encapsulation is safe because the mother is already a carrier of the CF gene.
    • Sickle Cell: If mother is the carrier of the sickle cell hemoglobin, it is safe for her to consume. If the father was the carrier of sickle cell hemoglobin, mother’s consumption is not advised as it can affect her body adversely.
    • Taysachs: If baby is born with taysachs trait only, encapsulation can continue. If baby is born with true taysachs, encapsulation is not advised.
    • Thalassemia : Encapsulation is considered safe, however some aspects/benefits of encapsulation can be lessened, as her body may not have full ability to absorb iron.
    • Trisomy 13, 18, 21: Placenta encapsulation is considered safe. If mother got an amniocentesis to check for genetic conditions, a higher possible infection rate may be present. The hospital may request placenta to go to pathology (see more in pathology section).
  • Twin/Triplet Pregnancy
    • I love doing twin placentas and have yet to have the opportunity to do triplets. There is an additional $25 fee for di-di twins as the additional placenta adds more time/supplies to the placenta encapsulation process.
  • Low-lying Placenta, Placenta Previa (total, partial, marginal)
    • Placenta previa of any kind does not affect the ability to encapsulate.
  • Placental Calcifications
    • Calcifications on the placenta do not interfere with the placenta encapsulation process. Large deposits are removed before the process begins and smaller deposits usually disintegrate during the dehydration/drying process.
  • Premature and/or Low-Weight Births
    • Depending on the level of premature birth the placenta can still be encapsulated. However, the smaller the placenta, the smaller number of capsules will be received.
  • Waterbirth
    • Most midwives will scoop up the placenta into a container shortly after birth of the placenta to avoid it sitting/free floating in the water. The condition of the water can change shortly after birth, therefore the ‘raw’ preparation method may not be recommended if the placenta stays prolonged in the water. It may be recommended to encapsulate with the Traditional Chinese Inspired Method (TCM/Heated) because the heating process of the placenta helps eliminate surface bacteria. This is the most commonly done method of encapsulation for waterbirths for that reason. On a personal note, I hold waterbirths near and dear to my heart as two of my babies were birthed in water.
  • Maternal Fever During Labor
    • Please do not let a fever during labor convince you an infection is present. Fevers during labor can be a natural and normal process. However, if any kind of diagnosed infection presents itself shortly after birth, prolonged maternal fever, or infant fever occurs ingestion of the placenta is not recommended.
  • C-Section
    • The type of birth does not affect ability to encapsulate. Simply notify the birth team that the placenta will be used for consumption so it should not be exposed to any chemicals, and safe handling/cross contamination precautions should be taken.  Assign dad, doula, birth partner, other family member in charge of placenta since mom will be in recovery. 
  • Delayed Cord Clamping/Immediate Cord Clamping
    • Either delayed cord clamping or immediate cord clamping is fine. World Health Organization (WHO) recommends waiting at least 3 minutes before clamping the cord. But, waiting until the cord stops pulsating after birth has the most effective results for newborns. That will ensure your baby will receive the approximately 30% of the blood still circulating through the placenta and the cord and will help your baby to the best possible start by giving them all the possible blood which is rich in red blood cells, white blood cells, stem cells, iron, etc.
  • Cord Burning Ceremony
    • Cord burning does not affect placenta encapsulation as long as placenta is handled in a sterile way and cooled/refrigerated within 4 hours of birth.
  • Lotus Birth
    • Placenta encapsulation is usually not recommended for lotus births (the practice of leaving the umbilical cord uncut after childbirth so that the baby is left attached to the placenta until the cord naturally separates at the umbilicus. This usually occurs within 3–10 days after birth).
  • Amniocentesis
    • Getting an amniocentesis does not affect the ability to encapsulate, however an amniocentesis can lead to a higher rate of infection. If any kind of infection is present or presents itself shortly after birth, ingestion of the placenta is not recommended.
  • Cord Blood Banking
    • As long as the placenta is cared for in a sterile manner during the banking process, encapsulation is completely fine. However, cord blood banking has been shown to negatively affect baby after birth as the cord must be immediately claimed to collect cord blood. Placental tissue samples may be taken by the company (which can affect the look of keepsake and the amount of capsules you receive) and umbilical cord may be taken by company (making a heart umbilical cord keepsake impossible).
  • Medications
    • The placenta has the ability to filter medications out fairly quickly (filtration was one of its main jobs in the womb). Therefore some small amount of medications may be passed to the placenta/baby during medicated inductions/medicated deliveries and a small residual amount may be left in the placenta depending on dosage/time medication was received. The placenta is thoroughly rinsed during preparation, limiting the amount that may be present.
    • Steaming the placenta is thought to make medications more ineffective, so mother may chose the TCM/Heated method, instead of Raw Method.
    • Placenta encapsulation is generally considered safe for medications/drugs with a molecular weight of 400D-500D (Daltons) and a ‘complete’ or ‘incomplete’ transfer type
    • Medications/drugs with higher molecular weight and an ‘exceeding’ transfer type are not considered safe (these types of medications/drugs are rarely used during pregnancy/labor/birth.
    • The general rule with medications are: If it is safe to have during pregnancy, then it is safe for placenta encapsulation. Please consult with your medical provider if this is an area of concern.

Storage Guidelines:

  • Room Temperate: Encapsulation is not recommended if the placenta is/was at room temperature for longer than 4 hours without any cooling preservation methods.
  • Refrigerator: Encapsulation is not recommended if the placenta is/was held in the refrigerator for more than 5 days without freezing.
  • Freezer: Encapsulation is not recommended if the placenta is/was held in the freezer for more than 6 months
  • Not adhering to above guidelines can lead to varying degrees of placenta spoilage, adding a risk of bacterial growth.
  • If client continues with consumption against advisement, results could be similar to food poisoning symptoms. It is up to the client to make an informed decision.

So, again placenta encapsulation mainly not recommended with the following:

  • Choriocarcinoma present (cancer of the placenta).
  • Placentas that have been sent to pathology and were exposed to sanitizing and/or preserving.
  • Heavy drug/cigarette usage during pregnancy.
  • Maternal or infant fever postpartum indicating an infection.
  • Exposure to meconium longer than one hour with visual changes to placenta.
  • If a medical condition arises where placenta consumption is contraindicated.
  • If you have or have had the following: HIV, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and/or Ebola.
  • If the placenta is/was at room temperature for longer than 4 hours without any cooling preservation methods.
  • If the placenta is/was held in the refrigerator for more than 5 days without freezing.
  • If the placenta is/was held in the freezer for more than 6 months.
  • Full refund may be granted before services rendered, partial refund may be granted depending on stage of preparation at time requested, no refund will be granted once contracted services have been completed.

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