This story is disturbing to me, both on a professional and personal level. Assuming these allegations are true, then there has been a serious breach of trust. Trust is the one thing that birthing women need in order to feel safe and birth their babies in the way Nature intended. This has shaken the natural birth community and I fear that the ramifications will be felt for some time to come. The popularity of this midwife and her birth center only exacerbates the issue.
Regarding the ongoing debate about placenta encapsulation in general, I have personally had hundreds of clients who report faster birth recoveries when taking placenta than without. There is scientific research available on placenta ingestion, which I have made available online at PlacentaBenefits.info. Given that research into women’s health in general is woefully lacking, and given that the use of dried placenta for postpartum recovery has not been widely known, letalone practiced in this country, it is not surprising that there is little documented research into the actual ingestion of dried placenta and its effects on humans.
However, I am excited to be working with a team of researchers at UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) who are very interested in this field. We are moving forward through the bureaucratic channels necessary to begin a double-blind, controlled study into placentophagia and its benefits to postpartum women. The next couple of years will be very exciting as the research is done and the results begin to come to light.
I have also had the pleasure (?) of being contacted by the FDA back in 2007. I had to submit my Standard Operating Procedures at that time. Since I had already been in contact with various health departments and had accessed the OSHA and EPA guidelines for proper disinfection, as well as safe food handling requirements, they found I was compliant with the government regulations. That is how I have been able to continue to operate so publicly. That is also why I developed the training program so other women could prepare placentas with the peace of mind knowing that they were operating within government guidelines, and keeping their clients safe.
I have been working hard for three years to promote placenta encapsulation as a resource for postpartum women. My goal is to see this become a legitimate field and practice. The only way to do that is to be safe, and keep our clients safe. Drying several placentas at a time is irresponsible, at the very least, in this current climate of distrust and lack of education in the general public. This type of negative publicity is not good for anyone; placenta advocates, midwives, birth centers, or the women who are looking for alternatives to our standard level of birth care.
This is not at all how I operate, or how any of the PBi-Certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist®s operate. While it is very discouraging to have this negative publicity surrounding the practice of placenta ingestion at all, I was encouraged by the even tone with which the original press release discussed the use of placenta:
“…women who had given birth at the center were being provided placenta pills as a prophylactic measure in order to mitigate or prevent post partum depression. This is a practice that has some limited popularity among believers in traditional / ancient medicine, but has not gained acceptance in the modern medical community or FDA approval. When done, the usual procedure provides the birth mother with her own placenta that has been dehydrated and encapsulated for her use.”
I was expecting to see the practice strongly denounced, but this was surprisingly positive. As to taking placenta capsules from other women, that is how it is done in Asia. Healthy placentas from women are dried and encapsulated, and then anyone can buy these capsules. I’m sure the FDA will *never* approve that here in the US! I don’t advocate that myself, just for safety and cross-contamination concerns, and certainly don’t advocate multiple placentas being dried simultaneously.
While this situation is concerning, I am unafraid. I will continue to promote the use of a woman’s own placenta for her own postpartum recovery. If the government develops regulations for this field, then Placenta Benefits and its practitioners will continue to be in compliance.