With the passing of HB 1670 in 2016, you can now have your baby and keep your placenta too! Although there are no court orders or additional fees required to have your placenta released, each hospital has different policies and it's best to be prepared for how your birthing place handles placentas after birth. No matter what hospital you're in, you'll need to sign the placenta release waiver (don't worry, your nurse will know exactly what you're talking about) and remind your nurse, doctor and/or midwife during pushing, or prep for cesarean birth, that you're keeping your placenta. It's also important to remember that your precious placenta should be on ice or refrigerated within 2-3 hours after birth and frozen within three days to be safely encapsulated. After booking services, I send a handy and specific checklist for how you can handle your placenta after birth, but generally, here's what you can expect when encapsulating with Woman Craft:
St. David's North/ Women's Center (North Austin Medical Center )
This St. David's releases placentas immediately, so bring a cooler and five gallon ziploc bags with you. After giving birth, ask your nurse to double bag your placenta and have your partner fill the remaining three bags with ice from the refreshment room. Pack your placenta in the cooler and surround it well with ice and let me know that baby is born. This hospital generally prefers that you don't bring your placenta to your postpartum room, so if you give birth overnight or I'm not able to make it to the hospital by the time you relocate to your new room, you can hand your placenta off to a relative or friend to keep with them or transport to their home for a few hours or keep your cooler in your car until I arrive for pickup. Either way, make sure to refresh ice as needed so that your placenta stays fully surrounded by ice!
St. David's South
St. David's Round Rock
These hospitals release placentas immediately, so bring a cooler and five gallon ziploc bags with you. After giving birth, ask your nurse to double bag your placenta and have your partner fill the remaining three bags with ice from the refreshment room. Pack your placenta in the cooler and surround it well with ice. Let me know that baby is born and keep your placenta with you in your L&D or postpartum room until I can swing by to pick it up. You can expect at 2-3day turnaround for placenta pills when you give birth at any St. David's in Austin.
St. David's Main
No need to bring a cooler with you unless you'll be transporting your placenta home yourself. This St. David's conveniently bags, labels and stores all placentas in a separate fridge on the L&D unit. If you're taking your placenta home yourself, you'll want to bring a cooler and some bags for ice with you, but if we're working together, I'll bring my own cooler to pick your placenta directly up from the fridge at nurses' station.
Seton Main & Seton Northwest
Seton hospitals do not directly release your placenta to you, but it can still be released (if you take issue with that, I suggest giving a call to the hospital risk manager in hopes of someday changing this unnecessary rule). All placentas at Seton are stored in their Pathology freezer for 72 hours. This means that after birth, your placenta will be bagged, labeled, and transported to the Pathology unity by a tech. Since placentas need to be on ice or frozen within 2-3 hours after birth, you should confirm with your nurse that your placenta has landed in pathology in a timely matter. It's also important for your to double check with your doctor after giving birth to make sure that they don't plan on having your placenta examined in pathology without legitimate reason (ex: suspected infection). A placenta that has been examined is unsafe for consumption. When working with clients at Seton, I pick the placenta up after the 72 hour hold. If you're picking it up yourself, you'll want to bring a cooler and ice. In addition to the 72 hours of freezing, you can expect another 1-2 days for the placenta to safely thaw, plus 1-2 days of processing, getting your your finished placenta capsules about 5-7 days after birth.
Birth centers (and home births) are super easy for placenta release, as you don't even have to sign a waiver to keep your placenta. Just bring a cooler and five gallon ziploc bags. After birth, have your midwife double bag your placenta and have your partner pack the placenta and cooler up with ice. Let me know that baby is born and I'll meet you at the birth center or at home a few hours later for easy placenta pickup! When using a birth center, you can expect a 2-3 turnaround on your placenta pills.
For more info on placenta encapsulation, read some FAQs right here. You can also contact me directly or book services online. Happy Birthing!
Just because someone is a birth pro (doula, midwife, etc), does not mean that they offer professional quality placenta services. Offering services without having formal training in placenta encapsulation is a huge red flag! Although there are many training organizations to choose from, APPA, IPPA and PBi are a few reputable ones. Without formal training, how did this person learn safe encapsulation protocol? Did they learn from YouTube (yes, people really do do that!)? Did they learn by helping their sister encapsulate a mutual friend's placenta? Did they learn from someone else who doesn't have formal training? Although the encapsulation process is fairly simple, it's not always straightforward and formal training goes a long way in making safe decisions. Having proper training in the OSHA standards of bloodborne pathogen handling and food safety handling are also important! Remember, it's not just your placenta that will be passing through the encapsulator's equipment, so proper training in storage, preparation and sanitation are absolutely vital to safe encapsulation!
2. PREP SPACE
So where does the magic happen? There are three different places that placenta prep usually happens: 1- In the professional's separate, dedicated workspace, 2- In the client's personal kitchen, 3-In the professional's personal kitchen. The first two of those places are appropriate for professional prep, the third is not. I personally prefer to work in my separate, dedicated workspace because it gives me more control over timing, safety, and sanitation (plus I have a placenta-specific fridge!) all while not taking over new parents' kitchen. It also means that there's no food, kids or pets going in and out of the prep space either! It's one thing to encapsulate your own (and only your own) placenta in your personal kitchen, but it's another to encapsulate multiple women's placentas in your personal kitchen. See the difference?
Who transports the placenta after your birth? Will your encapsulator already be at the birth with you? Do they have pickup hours or other limitations? Do they charge an additional fee for picking up your placenta? Some encapsulators have an option for you to drop off your placenta to their home or workspace and some absolutely will not transport a placenta at all. If the preparation is going to happen in your home, do you have someone else who can worry about transporting your placenta (and making sure it is stored correctly for consumption)? If you're planning a home or birth center birth, will your encapsulator still pick the placenta up from the hospital if you transfer or will it be your responsibility to get it to them? Are you responsible for picking up your finished capsules or will they be delivered to you, whether you're home or at the hospital? If these questions are not clearly answered on their website, inquire further!
4. PERSONAL ATTENTION
This quality may or may not be important to you in your decision. However, quality support from your encapsulator (or from anyone who you invite to be part of your birth and postpartum experience) can be a huge bonus and a major help in recovery. If you want to know how invested in your satisfaction and comfort your encapsulator will be, pay attention to communication before labor starts. Are they forthcoming and thorough on their website? Are they responsive to inquiries, emails, and texts? Do they give you thorough and specific directions for how to handle your placenta (each hospital and birth center are different)? Do they work with 4-6 clients a month or 40-60? Are they going to be able to offer you personalized guidance after your baby is born or are you just one of many clients to them?
I'm a human person living in ATX, so yes, cost is important to me too! And no, having a baby ain't cheap. I get that (believe me). However, when dealing with a service based industry, cheapest does not typically equate to best, so I suggest finding out exactly where you'll be losing quality to save that $150 (again, I get the allure). You can likely find an answer by sifting through the questions above with any encapsulator you're looking into working with or reading over their website.
It is my personal goal to provide the highest quality service and support to every woman and family I work with so that moms can have a more comfortable pregnancy and postpartum period. I'm always happy to chat directly, but you can also read more about my training, FAQs and protocols, and testimonials throughout my site.
Not too many things can compete with having a baby- in excitement or workload. Luckily, a little bit of forethought can go a long way in way preparing for a smooth transition from pregnancy to the sacred weeks following birth. Be sure to scroll down and check out the first half of my six tips for a happier and healthier postpartum period if you haven't yet!
4) Eat Your Placenta
Placenta encapsulation isn't just for hippies anymore. In fact, all but a handful of mammals instinctively consume their placenta after giving birth and this practice is becoming more mainstream with modern women. During pregnancy the placenta becomes a primary endocrine organ, taking over production of many reproductive hormones. These hormone levels are 20-30% higher than normal during this time! After birth estrogen, progesterone, endorphins, and other hormones, along with thyroid levels, drop immediately, causing a significant physical and emotional crash in new moms- also known as the "baby blues."
Luckily, encapsulation is an easy, no-mess way to consume your placenta and smooth the transition into motherhood... No yuck required! Women who consume their placenta consistently report benefits that including fewer hormonal swings, increased energy and milk supply, a decrease pain, less bleeding and an overall improved sense of well being- all from materials produced by your own body and processed into simple capsule form.
5) Adjust Your Expectations
This may be one of the most difficult steps in preparing for your postpartum because it can't be bought, scheduled or eaten, but adjusting your expectations for reality with a newborn may be an important step in your journey. Just like how TV and movies don't accurately portray childbirth (shocking, I know), they certainly don't portray the postpartum time either. Sometimes mothering comes naturally, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes breastfeeding comes naturally, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes you go for what seems like literally days without sleep, you partner doesn't seem to be holding up their end of the parenting deal, you look six months pregnant four weeks after giving birth and there's a bird nesting in your hair. Sometimes babies have difficulty latching and formula supplementation is appropriate. Sometimes you're crying and bleeding, feel like you've lost your whole identity and don't know how to keep your well- meaning, but exhausting mother-in-law at bay.
I am by no means trying to spread horror stories or scare you. I am saying that parenthood is unpredictable, beautiful, messy, exhausting and amazing. It's the hardest f@#*ing work you'll ever do. Be flexible, be open to a change in plans and remember that there is no perfect in the parenting game.
6) Stay Well Fed and Hydrated
This one sounds simple, but hunger and dehydration can sneak up on you when all your attention goes directly to your precious (and very demanding) newborn. While you may not be sitting down for three homecooked meals a day, it's still important to get an additional 500ish calories a day when breastfeeding.
So what's a new mom to do when you don't have the time, energy or free hands to hang out in the kitceh all day?
Seriously, being a new parent is hard. Ask for help, accept help, be flexible and take some time for self-care. If feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, depression, weepiness or anxiety persist for more than a couple of weeks postpartum, talk to your care provider, connect with others online at Postpartum Progress or The New Mama Project or check out these local resources.
Hibbert, Christina. "Postpartum Mood Disorders: An Informational Guide For Couples". Psychology Today.
Le Leche League
Do you have dreams of a magical Baby Moon when you'll do nothing but glow from oxytocin and stare longingly into your new babe's eyes? While planning for your ideal birth, it's just as important to plan for the period afterwards. Birth is like the wedding day and the postpartum period (and beyond) is like a marriage... more dirty work and significantly less glamorous. When you're pregnant with your first child it can be difficult (almost impossible!) to imagine that life with your new baby could be anything but perfect. We like to think that our love for our children is enough to get us smoothly through the trials of early parenthood, but that's not always the case. The combination of hormonal fluctuations, exhaustion, social isolation, and financial stress can push even the most prepared parent into a serious mood disorder.
Did you know that....
Though the baby blues and mood disorders can't always be avoided, there are certain steps you can take to lessen your chances and prepare for the beautiful postpartum period you imagine and deserve.
1) Practice Lying-In
Basically, America does postpartum WRONG! Here we're expected to birth a baby, go grocery shopping, clean the house and prepare dinner for visiting and doting relatives. In reality, that's a great way to pass a blood clot the size of a lemon, exhaust yourself and miss out on some serious bonding with your newest addition. Other cultures practice 30-40 days of "lying-in". This is where you and baby hang out in bed while family and friends take care of housework, older siblings and meal prep, allowing for faster healing, the opportunity to process the majorly transformative event that is childbirth and learn the quirks and challenges of feeding your new little one. Lying in is important for all new mothers, but is especially vital for mothers who birthed by cesarean section!
Not sure you can manage your household from the horizontal position? That's when it's time to call in some extra hands....
2) Say "Yes" to Help
Now is not the time to be a hero. When they say "it takes a village", trust them. After giving birth, you need help. Sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little. Good thing almost everyone wants to help when there's a new baby involved. Mothers, mothers' friends, mothers-in-law, sisters, neighbors, church ladies, aunts, strangers at Central Market... they all want to help. Take them up on it.
So when someone asks, "What can I do to help?", give them an answer! Here's a few ideas of what to ask for if you're unsure of what you'll need.
3) Get a Massage
No matter how you birth or feed your baby, your body will likely ache. Massage in the newly postpartum period is less of a luxury and more of a step towards homeostasis. The normal anxieties of parenting, plus waking up every two hours to feed a creature who's completely dependent on you, can wreak serious havoc on your nervous system and throw you into a fight or flight response that's hard to shake and you just can't think your way out of. Massage is a lovely and gentle way to coax your body back into relaxation and say "Yes, this is okay. I'm okay. My body can feel good again. I can recover". Massage helps your whole body take a breath and slip back into the relaxing parasympathetic nervous system that encourages faster healing, allowing you to be more present for yourself and your baby.
Not sure how massage works when you're leaking from just about everywhere and you can't imagine getting in the car or being away from your baby for more than 20 minutes? I take care of all of that and come to you! I love working with new moms who aren't quite sure what to do with their newly postpartum bodies. We set up the massage table in your home and get you comfortable. Baby is nearby with dad or grandma and can stop in to nurse as needed. No worries if baby needs to be close the whole time, as he or she can lie with you on the table and you can both be blissed out from a healing and recuperative massage.
Like what you've read so far? Stay tuned for three more practical and simple tips for a healthier and happier postpartum period!
Beyond the "Baby Blues". Harvard Mental Health Letter. September 2011.
M. Diego. Moderate pressure massage elicits a parasympathetic nervous system response. PubMed.gov. 2009.
Canadian Mental Health Association
I'm Colleen. Mommma. Birth, breastfeeding, pregnancy, placenta lover. Sleep Deprived.