Business is booming for Heather Woskey. The owner of Seattle Placenta Encapsulation says more and more new mothers are interested in taking placenta pills after giving birth.
“I dehydrate placentas, grind them into powder and fill them into capsules for moms to take postpartum,” says Woskey, who operates out of her Wallingford home.
After a baby is born, Heather will drive to the hospital or the home and pick up the placenta. In about three days she’ll return it, encapsulated. Parents can choose from two methods; the more traditional one involves first steaming the placenta with lemon, jalapeno and ginger. But what’s the benefit?
“From what women who take their placenta postpartum are telling us, we’re seeing a decreased risk of postpartum baby blues, we’re seeing postpartum pain reduction, postpartum bleeding tends to be shorter or lighter,” Woskey said. “Oh! Big thing is lactation. We’re seeing a lot more milk production. It’s like, ‘Wow! My milk came in so much faster than last time I had a baby and I didn’t encapsulate my placenta that time and I wonder.'”
Then there is the gross-out factor. I asked Woskey how people react when she tells them what she does for a living.
“Oh, man. I get such a mix of, ‘Ewwwww, is that, like, cannibalism?’ Or, ‘Eww, I don’t want to hear about it. That’s gross,'” she said. “To people being completely fascinated. But I’m a vegan, actually. I’m not grossed out at all because it comes from life, not from killing. It’s what gave nutrients to life form.”
Who are her clients?
“That’s what I wondered when I got into this,” she said. “Who am I going to be serving? At least my business, I get everyone. I actually get less of the super hippie. I’ve gotten neuroscientists, I get Microsoft families, I get doctors, nurses. People say, ‘Wow, that sounds so new agey, hippie dippy.’ And I’m like, ‘Tell that to my tech Amazon clients!'”
Woskey charges about $200, depending on how far she has to drive, and instructs her clients to take one or two capsules, three times a day, for the first few weeks after birth.
Chinese medicine believes the placenta can also be helpful when a woman goes through menopause, so Heather froze some of her own pills, from her son’s birth, that she plans to dig out when that stage of life is upon her.
As for the science behind ingesting one’s placenta, it’s mostly anecdotal. Woskey says there haven’t been many studies done.
“That’s a hard one. There are some older studies done on placentas that we do see actual evidence as to why. We know that some women who suffer from postpartum depression are low in releasing hormone, which the placenta produces a ton of in the third trimester. There’s some studies showing that maybe because that’s in there, and they’ve learned that postpartum depression has really low levels of that hormone and women who are taking their placentas postpartum are having better postpartum emotions, it could be from the fact that they are getting those hormones in the placenta.”
This interview comes from my special mother’s day edition of my podcast Your Last Meal, featuring my very own mom! Find it on your phone at www.yourlastmealpodcast.com.