A postpartum service which has steady grown in popularity is Placenta Encapsulation (PE). Women often ask me about this service during our prenatal meetings. They are curious about the preparation process, potential benefits, requesting their placenta from the hospital, and where to find a qualified specialist.
I recently reached out to Sabrina Given, of The Given Tree Placenta Encapsulation, and requested an interview in hopes of providing families with more information on PE. In addition to being a Placenta Encapsulation specialist, she is also an Labor & Delivery nurse at two local hospitals. I've had many clients work with Sabrina, and all have given glowing reviews of her services. | Jenn
1.) What is your background in Birthwork? I began as a labor and delivery nurse at St. Ann’s in 2012 straight out of nursing school. I knew from the beginning that my calling was with assisting new souls entering into the lives of their new family. As we admit a patient we complete an intake with tons of questions regarding health history, birth plans wishes, and the question which peaked my interest instantly was, “Do you plan to take your placenta home?” As soon as we left the room I asked my wonderful preceptor, “what do people do with their placentas.” She told me various reasons people keep their placentas and I was further intrigued. I did quite a bit of research and watched tons of videos to teach myself all about encapsulation. I flew out to support my best friend with her second birth and she asked me if I had everything I needed to encapsulate her placenta. I thought she was joking, but it became apparent that she was quite serious. I headed over to Whole Foods and Target for supplies and got down to business preparing my first placenta prints and capsules. My business was born with my best friend’s daughter.
2.) What drew you to Placenta Encapsulation (PE)? After doing much research prior to my first encapsulation, I was really intrigued by the potential benefits of consuming one’s placenta. It made sense to me that the life source, which grew and nourished a baby, would continue to nourish the body after delivery. My family does not consume medication regularly, however we do use essential oils and herbs to promote health and wellness, healing, and pain relief. I loved the idea of being able to offer a natural alternative for new mamas seeking emotional, physical, and spiritual balance.
3.) What training have you taken for PE? Is there a certification process? I am originally self-taught through plenty of ongoing research and participating in various forums regarding PE. I am currently enrolled with the Association of Placenta Preparation Arts (APPA). There are several certification programs, however I chose APPA because it is the most comprehensive training program taking approximately nine months to complete. I feel it is important to obtain my certification because as my business grows, I will have access to the most up to date information. I will have ongoing knowledge to add to an already solid foundation of information. Many PE specialists are self-taught and this practice is widely accepted. Certification was the correct choice for me.
4.) Can you share the process you use for PE? There are two preparation methods for PE, Raw and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I currently only offer raw prep, which simply involves gently washing the placenta, preparing it for dehydration, and then powdering the dehydrated pieces. Once finely powdered I hand fill each capsule, yielding 150 capsules on average. TCM is based on the theory of balancing the hot and cold in the body. The process includes steaming the placenta typically with lemon, ginger, and sometimes jalapenos. It then follows the same process for encapsulation. There is a slightly decreased yield, however many people choose TCM for various reasons including group B beta strep, meconium staining, or personal preference. It is very important that no additional herbs are added to the capsules. These extra herbs can cause sensitivity or reactions, which would cause the capsules to be unsuitable for use.
5.) What benefits do your clients report from using PE? Benefits from PE include decreased baby blues and postpartum depression, decreased lochia or postpartum bleeding, decreased anemia, increased energy, increased milk supply, and emotional balance.
6.) Is there any research being done on PE? There is currently for PE, however like any research the results will take years to be known. There have been several “studies” posted on social media that claim there are no benefits and that it may actually be harmful. There is a plethora of anecdotal support for the reported benefits associated with PE. Various practices for consuming placenta have occurred throughout history in various parts of our world. I truly hope PE will become normalized in our culture, and more health care practitioners will recognize and support the practice. I am committed to changing the idea that placentas are more than medical waste, one encapsulation at a time.
7.) What is the typical protocol for taking the capsules? I have seen slightly different suggested dosages through my years of practice. Dosage can vary based on capsule size, preparation method, and the effect the capsules have on each mama. My recommended dosing is for a size 0 capsule follows this schedule:
- Week 1: Take 2 capsules 3 times each day.
- Week 2: Take 2 capsules 2 times each day.
- Week 3 and beyond: Take 1-2 capsules 2 times each day.
I advise clients to listen to their body and trust their instincts. If a client is experiencing headaches, feeling anxious or jittery, or having trouble sleeping (not because of a sweet baby keeping them awake) to decrease the amount they are consuming each day. Capsules are like any other medication or supplement, and each person will process them differently.
8.) Are there any conditions under which doing PE is not advised? Encapsulation is not advised if there is confirmation of an infection called Chorioamnionitis. This is a serious infection and both mama and baby require antibiotic treatment. If an infection is suspected the caregiver will likely want to send the placenta to pathology for testing. The client is encouraged to request a piece of the placenta to be sent for testing so that she may still encapsulate if the results are negative for infection. If any substance including saline, betadine, or formalin are added to the placenta, it should not be consumed. The placenta should be handled like any other meat, meaning it should be placed in an appropriate container and refrigerated shortly after delivery. If a refrigerator is not available, the placenta should be placed within a cooler and covered with ice. The ice should be replenished frequently to ensure it remains cold while awaiting pickup. If the placenta will not be prepared within three days of delivery, it should be frozen until it can be processed. If any of these conditions are neglected, the placenta should not be consumed. It is also recommended to keep the placenta with you at all times to ensure that no foreign substances come into contact with the placenta.
9.) How do I get my placenta from the hospital to you for processing? The process for pickup varies from birth to birth. Because I work at St. Ann’s I am not permitted to pickup directly from the unit. A support person may meet me off hospital property to allow me to pickup. I have had several clients release the placenta to their doula, and I then meet with that person for pickup. I have picked up from many of the hospitals locally, I’ve met family members at various locations, and I have picked up at client’s homes. I prefer whichever route allows me to pickup the quickest so that I am able to begin processing the placenta as soon after delivery as possible. My goal is 48 hours from pickup to delivery, however I am typically able to turnaround in 36 hours.
10.) What types of birth art do you create? Keepsakes are one of my favorite aspects of PE. I love creating unique prints from the placenta and cord whether from the remaining blood or using food coloring for more colorful prints. I am currently exploring organic alternatives for colorful prints including beets, spinach, butternut squash, blueberries, and other foods. I also make cord keepsakes from the remaining umbilical cord, which is shaped and dehydrated into a heart, initial, infinity symbol, or other significant design based on the length of the cord available. Another type of art comes in the form of jewelry, key chains, and ornaments which can include baby’s lock of hair, breastmilk, placenta ash, umbilical cord, a piece of baby’s hospital hat, flowers received during the welcoming of the baby, and much more. These keepsakes are not ready for delivery with the capsules and prints because they may take up to 8 weeks to be prepared depending on the choice of inclusion.
11.) What does your PE package include? Do you offer other products? I offer a basic package including pickup, delivery, placenta prints, cord keepsake when available, and vegetarian capsules with dosing for $175. I offer many other products that can be added on for an additional fee including tincture, salve, herbal bath, soft cord ties, canvas placenta prints, and flavored gelatin capsules. I am exploring adding placenta infused chocolates as another option and look to have that product by this summer.
12.) Are there any other birth related aspirations on your horizon? Birthwork is in my soul. I am passionate about the services I offer, whether wearing green or grey scrubs a laboring and recovering a family or hand filling capsules with love and positive energy. If I decide to further my education I will likely find myself at Frontier Nursing University in Kentucky. They offer an incredible RN to Certified Nurse Midwife program that is primarily online with the exception of a few on campus days and of course the clinical experience. I am hesitant to return to school at the moment because I have four amazing children and a wonderfully supportive husband that I want to fully enjoy before the years slip by too quickly. I often ponder the transition into becoming a doula to offer more integrative care not only for my PE clients, but also for my laboring mamas while I am the nurse, not the encapsulation specialist. Short-term goals include childbirth education and certified lactation counselor training that I have the opportunity to receive through Memorial Health. I have many dreams regarding birthwork, however I am currently employed at St. Ann’s in Columbus and Memorial Hospital in Marysville, and working very hard to grow my business. I am excited to experience my journey in this lifetime and continue to meet amazing souls along the path. | Sabrina
(photos provided by The Given Tree Placenta Encapsulation)