SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Marissa Flores was living in California and expecting her eldest son when, through a mom’s group, she found out about a process that would change her course: placenta encapsulation.
Placenta encapsulation is a process wherein a whole placenta is transformed into pills that some moms consume postpartum, although it is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration nor recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Flores told WSAV NOW she experienced bouts of depression and anxiety.
“The thing is, postpartum depression is scary whenever you hear about it, especially when you’re pregnant. I was like, well, let me just try it out and see, you know?” Flores said. “It doesn’t hurt anything to try the pills because if they don’t work, then they don’t work.”
After paying a local woman to encapsulate her placenta, Flores began taking them and noticed a difference.
“As soon as I started taking them I felt a lot better and it definitely gave me a lot more energy,” she said. “Me taking them personally kind of helped encourage me to want to be able to offer this process to other women.”
The same woman who encapsulated Flores’ placenta also encouraged her to take a two-day class to get certified so that she can offer the service to moms in her area.
“The first day we were in the classroom and basically, she taught us everything about the placenta…the whole process and all the different things about the placenta,” she explained. “The next day, we actually went to somebody’s house and she’d had someone donate a placenta, so we got to watch her do the entire process.”
Today, Flores is the owner of Placenta Encapsulation Services of Savannah, Hilton Head & Beaufort. She has been servicing the Savannah area for over seven years by processing placentas in her home.
Flores first connects with the moms before they give birth and encourages them to tell their doctor and nurse that they have to save their placentas or some of them.
“Usually, we tell the moms to take a cooler to the hospital with them so that way, the placenta can immediately be put into the cooler with the ice until either we pick it up or they get it home,” she said. “So the biggest piece of advice is to make sure they treat it like meat and get it to a fridge, freezer or keep it cold in a cooler with ice until either we pick it up or they get it home.”
Flores said her team usually tries to pick up the placenta within 24 hours.
“But usually, you kind of have to think of it almost as a piece of meat,” she continued. “So, if it’s kept in a fridge, they can do it within probably five days. Or if they stick it in their freezer, they can freeze it for up to six months, then it can be done.”
Flores described the process of readying placentas in her home, including cleaning and rinsing blood off of the placenta.
“Then, from there, it will get sliced up very thinly as if you’re doing jerky,” she said, adding that you should put in into a dehydrator.
The difference is we do it at a higher temperature to make sure the bacteria and virus are killed off. Once it’s completely dry, then we grind up those pieces into powder. Then that powder is put into capsules for you to take.”
For women who are curious but can’t get past the idea or taste of ingesting their placentas, Flores recommends trying them in a smoothie using a berry juice blend that can hide the taste of the placenta.
Placentas can also be made in chocolates and gummy or flavored capsules.
“Normally, the people who do the actual smoothie cubes, they’re people who make smoothies often and are like, whatever, I’ll just kind of suffer through if need be, but we do offer flavored capsules,” said Flores. “So for women that are a bit squeamish about possibly the taste being weird, we can always do the flavored capsules.”
She typically has grape, orange and strawberry flavoring depending on available inventory.
Mayo Clinic physician Dr. Mary Marnach, a gynecologist board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, warns that eating your placenta after giving birth can pose harm to both you and your baby.
Concerning people eating the placenta raw, cooked, in smoothies or liquid extracts, Marnach said: “These preparations don’t completely destroy infectious bacteria and viruses that the placenta might contain.”
“As far as us being able to kill off virus and bacteria,” she continued, “all of us, our workspace gets completely sanitized and bleached beforehand.
“We all take classes, we take the food classes so we have our food service cards, and we all take blood-born pathogens classes so we are trained and know how to have a safe workspace. And then with the dehydrator, it dehydrates at a high enough temperature that it can kill off virus and pathogens and bacteria.”
While not everyone agrees that consuming placenta is a good idea, Flores said her business has extended since COVID.
“It’s growing,” she said. “It’s actually at the point where my Savannah business has probably tripled. I think it’s more people kind of learning about it.”.