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A Look Into the Placenta Encapsulation Process

Disclosure: This post contains pictures of the placenta before, during and after encapsulation. Some of these pictures do contain blood. Due to the graphic nature of the pictures, this post is reserved for mature audiences only.

Thank you to Cate from Trusted Women Doula Care for this amazing guest post. I asked Cate for information on the placenta encapsulation process so I could write an information post. This was the process Cate sent to me but I didn’t feel right changing a thing because I felt it was awesome and wanted to post her work directly.

Placenta Encapsulation Process

Here is the placenta after coming home from the hospital; nothing has been done to it yet! The placenta should be put in a fridge or in a bucket of ice within 3-4 hours after the birth. I transport the placenta in a foam cooler. If the weather is above 30 degrees or the commute is longer than an hour, I bring ice packs to keep the placenta cool.

Placenta before work
The first thing I do is put on gloves and a mask to cover my nose and mouth in case of spurts! Then I wash the placenta in cool water to clean off blood and clots. This is what the placenta looks like after being rinsed, with all membranes and the umbilical cord still attached. This is the “fetal side” the side that was not attached to your uterus, but that faced the baby. I loved the strong “tree of life” imagery your placenta had! Absolutely beautiful!

Tree of Life Placenta
Here is what the maternal side looked like:

Maternal Side of Placenta
I then proceeded to cut off the umbilical cord at the base and squeeze out any remaining blood before putting it in the dehydrator. I cut away the membranes and squeezed the placenta gently to drain it of as much blood as possible, while continuing to rinse in cool water. This part of the process takes 15-20 minutes. After that, I cut the placenta into quarters. This is just personal preference; I prefer to work with the placenta one section at a time and I find quarters suits me best. Other encapsulators may work with slightly different sections or do it all at once.

Placenta Quarters
Then I cut away more of the membrane (the whitish yellowish part on the top). I then cut the placenta into thin strips. The thinner the strips are, the faster the placenta dehydrates. I often smush the placenta strips between my fingers while transporting them from cutting mat to dehydrator in order to make them even thinner.

Placenta Strips
I proceed to complete each quarter of the placenta in this manner, until it’s all done, or if I’m making a tincture (like for you!), until only a walnut sized piece is left over. The walnut sized piece is placed in a glass jar with enough vodka to cover it and stored in a cool, dark place for 6-8 weeks, where it steeps and is swirled everyday. The rest of the placenta is in the dehydrator and ready to go. The cutting stage of the process takes 30-60 minutes, depending on size.

Drying the Placenta
Just getting started!

The dehydration phase is the longest part of the process, lasting anywhere from 12-16 hours. The duration depends on how much placenta there is, how much blood was in it to begin with, the humidity of the room, etc.

After two hours:

Placenta Drying
After six hours:

Placenta Drying
After twelve hours:

Drying Placenta
After twelve hours, I thought that your placenta might be fully dehydrated, so I took a few pieces out and tore them the way I do to get them in the food processor. I found that they still had a “chewy” texture and didn’t crack easily and were still bright red inside. I knew that it needed more time, so I put the pieces back and kept it going! The umbilical cord was good to go.

After sixteen hours:

Placenta drying
All done!

I broke the placenta into slightly smaller pieces and put it in my food processor. (All of the equipment used for placenta encapsulation is solely for placenta encapsulation, so although it’s called a food processor, the only food it’s ever processed is placentas!)

All filled up:

After five minutes of grinding:

Placenta Grinded
Now comes the actual encapsulation! I have filled my capsule machine with the appropriate sized capsules. I then scoop the placenta powder into the capsules, tamp it down, scoop in a bit more, tamp it down again and then push the two sides together to form the capsules! Voila! Repeat until all placenta powder is in capsules. This can take 30-60 minutes.

Placenta Pills
(A note about the capsules: these are 00 capsules, the largest ones available. I have also worked with size 0 capsules, but I find these are the best fit for the majority of my clients. I use NOW brand vegetable capsules. I am willing to work with gelatin capsules if a client specifically requests them; I understand that gelatin is considered nutritious for followers of the paleo diet. I default to vegetable because they are most suitable for people who follow vegetarian or vegan diets or who have religious restrictions about eating animal-based products.)

Your finished capsules:


I took an ecourse that certified me in the OSHA standards for placenta encapsulators and birth workers and so I follow their standards for sterilization. I wash all of the reusable components (knives, dehydrator, food processor parts, capsule machine, glass dish) in antibacterial soap and hot water and then sanitize with a bleach solution. They are then stored in a sealed container until the next use to ensure maximum cleanliness. I do not reuse the trash bags I use to protect the work surface, the vinyl gloves I wear while preparing, or the cutting mat (according to OSHA, tiny cuts can be made in the cutting surface that are impossible to sanitize, so I use a new one for each client).

That’s the placenta encapsulation process, start to finish! I hope this has been helpful. Please let me know if you have questions after reading this; I’m happy to clarify!

Thank you, Cate for the amazing information! Cate can be contacted through her website if you are interested in her services. Did I mention she’s amazing? 😉

If you haven’t read Why I Chose Placenta Encapsulation, please do! 🙂

Finally Made the Change to Cloth Menstrual Pads with Pink Lemonade
Why I Chose Placenta Encapsulation

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