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How to Prepare & Serve Your Placenta

About two weeks ago, I brought a 9-pound 2-ounce baby into this world. And after he came out, one of the largest placentas my doctor had ever seen followed. Her words, not mine. She even called her colleague in to take a look. It was perfect, and would provide excellent nutrition that would help with my postpartum recovery—also her words.

I had no intention of having my placenta processed and turned into a powder form for consumption in pill form. Since I had not done any research on placenta preparation specialists, I had to look into it. Good thing I happen to know Sara Pereira, a certified placenta encapsulation specialist. She helped me get to the bottom of all things placenta in the interview below.

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How did you decide to become a placenta encapsulation specialist?

I never planned to become a placenta preparation specialist. I was in school for traditional Chinese medicine a few years back, and that's where I learned about taking placenta capsules after childbirth, among other reasons. It really resonated with me, but I never thought much of it until a good friend of mine delivered her baby at the end of 2008. I prepared it for her and she really benefited and encouraged me to start offering it to my prenatal massage clients. So I did, not expecting to get too much interest. But I was wrong! I have, to date, prepared over 1,000. After preparing for my friend Claire, I found a company called Placenta Benefits, where I was trained and certified.

Please break down the process step by step for us—from the birth, through the prep, to the finished product.

I ask my clients to give me a heads up when they have gone into labor, and then contact me when they're ready for me to get started. It needs to be prepared within the first 72 hours of delivery; otherwise, it should be frozen. The first day takes me about an hour-and-a-half. That is when I get the placenta prepared to be dehydrated. It is steamed and sliced thinly and placed on lined dehydrator trays where it dries for at least 12 hours. The following day I grind the dried slices into powder and then put them in the capsules.

You never know if you will have a difficult recovery time, so why not have it there if it's needed?

What are the benefits of the capsules and the tincture that is also made from the powder?

The thought behind it is that it helps balance the hormone levels. When a woman is in her third trimester she has three times the normal amount of hormones as the average woman. After she delivers, she suddenly has below the normal amount of hormones. This helps to even this out. In traditional Chinese medicine they believe a woman loses "jing" every time she gives birth—this is her life force. By ingesting the placenta in whatever form, you are replacing that jing that was lost. My clients have reported a greater energy level, increased milk supply, faster recovery time, shortened bleeding time and a general, even mood. Many clients who reported severe baby blues with their previous birth experience reported feeling great with the capsules. The tincture can be used when the capsules are gone.

How and when are they taken, and by whom? Can a child take the tincture?

Yes, both mom and child can take the tincture. Baby gets the benefits from capsules and tincture through breast milk, but can be given the tincture when weaned; either a few drops in juice or food.

Is there any advice you can give women who might be on the fence about the process?

It's in capsule form, just like any other herb or supplement. You never know if you will have a difficult recovery time, so why not have it there if it's needed?

Have you done this for yourself with your own child? Or, would you when you decide to have a child?

I have yet to have a baby. We are currently trying, and I will absolutely do this when the time comes.

RELATED: My Postpartum Was Totally Depressing

Many people have an immediate "ick" reaction to consuming their own placenta, and that may particularly come from a lack of understanding about the process or benefits. What do you say to this?

I have found that those who have the strongest negative reaction to this know the least about it. This has been practiced in other cultures for thousands of years, and it is working. The reason there is little research and science behind it is because nobody gains to benefit financially from those studies. There is thousands of years worth of anecdotal research in Chinese medicine. The women who have taken the leap and had this done for themselves are raving about the results and sharing with their friends who then benefit and share with their friends and so on. It is quickly becoming less taboo than it was just a few years ago. I no longer care or listen to the naysayers, as I have seen it work firsthand for thousands of women. To each their own.

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