Encapsulating & Consuming Placenta

Placenta-PillsA current trend in the surrogacy community is for a surrogate to seek the rights to the placenta created as part of her surrogacy for the purpose of encapsulation or consumption.

With potential benefits including a quicker post natal recovery time, fewer instances of the “baby blues”, increased breast milk supply and greater energy reserves, it’s easy to understand why surrogates could be interested in this trend.

There is also a belief that, as the placenta contains high levels certain stress reducing hormones, placenta consumption can equalize a woman’s hormones more quickly after birth.

The placenta is an organ created by a woman’s body for the sole purpose of pregnancy. The placenta connects the uterine wall to the fetus and aids in nutrient uptake, gas exchange, and waste elimination. The placenta’s key roles include production of pregnancy maintaining hormones and staving off infection.

The placenta is a vital part of the pregnancy, but is useless to the carrier the moment the baby is delivered. The placenta is delivered vaginally within minutes of delivery of the baby and is usually sent to hospital pathology for potential testing and, ultimately, disposal.

Those choosing to consume their placenta generally hire a third party to retrieve the placenta from the hospital as close to delivery as possible. The organ is then steamed or dehydrated, ground and placed into gel capped pills. The caps can be flavored or flavorless. Other patients choose to consume part or all of the organ in raw form mixed with fruits, vegetables and yogurt as part of a smoothie drink.

There are no scientific studies currently published showing scientific proof that consumption of the placenta provides any benefit at all. Likewise, there is no research that definitively dispels any proposed benefit of consumption.

Any potential risk of infection or illness is believed to be very small, so long as the consumption is done solely by the woman to whom the placenta belonged and proper meat storage and preparation guidelines are followed.

If you are interested in placenta encapsulation or consumption your first step should be talking with your Intended Parents. Even though the placenta came from your body, it was created from sperm and an egg that did not belong to the surrogate. As such, you’ll need permission from your IPs in order to have the organ processed.

You’ll also need to talk with your hospital’s labor and delivery unit prior to birth to ensure that you are legally allowed to remove the placenta from the hospital and that proper storage and collection guidelines are followed.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: An Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Red Wheel Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.