After birth, the placenta is often thrown away despite the fact that there are other options available to parents – including placenta banking and placenta encapsulation. In recent years, these options have become increasingly popular for mums-to-be. But what exactly are the differences between placenta banking and placenta encapsulation? Is it possible to do both? We’ve provided an overview of both options, including a breakdown of the key differences, the benefits, costs and processes.

1. What is placenta banking and placenta encapsulation?

Placenta Banking
Similar to cord blood and cord tissue banking, placenta banking involves collecting cells from the placenta following birth and storing for future use. There are two main options for storing your placenta after birth; preserving your chorionic villi – also known as placental cells – or storing the amniotic membrane.

Placenta Encapsulation
The process of placenta encapsulation involves steaming, dehydrating and grinding the placenta before packaging the remnants into a pill form for consumption. Placenta pills are traditionally consumed by the mother and is claimed by many advocates to impart various different health benefits.

2. What are the benefits?

Placenta Banking
Both the chorionic villi and amniotic membrane possess powerful regenerative properties and are currently being used in various scientifically proven stem cell therapies for numerous conditions across the world. The amniotic membrane is currently being applied in the treatment of eye conditions, diabetic ulcers and surgical burns and wounds. Many scientists are continuing to discover the amazing potential of the placenta in hundreds of clinical trials investigating treatments for ischaemic stroke, Crohn’s disease and cerebral palsy, along with many other conditions.

Placenta Encapsulation
Whilst there is little scientific research regarding placenta encapsulation, traditional and holistic customs embrace numerous advantages for consuming placenta. Many individuals have reported that the process has helped to prevent postpartum depression. This is due to the Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH) in the placenta, which can help to ease the effects of postpartum depression. Other key benefits of placenta encapsulation and ingestion is that it can help to reduce postpartum bleeding, improve mood and energy levels, as well as reduce pain following labour. Numerous mothers have also stated that it has helped to improve bonding between mother and baby by releasing oxytocin hormones. Of course, the placenta is also very high in iron and so it can help some mothers replenish their iron stores after birth.

3. Who benefits from placenta banking and placenta encapsulation?

Placenta Banking
Banking your placenta could protect the health of mother, baby and maybe even other family members. This is because placenta cells can be used for allogeneic therapies. Crucially, the amniotic membrane is non-immunogenic, so it can also be used by other people such as siblings and various family members without the risk of rejection. They have a 25% chance of being a perfect match and a 75% chance of being a partial match for a sibling, providing long-term health benefits for all of the family.

Placenta Encapsulation
Placenta pills can only be ingested by the mother. As such, the mum is the key person to benefit from placenta encapsulation. Many mums, including the likes of Kim and Kourtney Kardashian and Coleen Rooney, swear by placenta pills to avoid getting the ‘baby blues’ and to improve the special mother-to-baby bond. Placenta encapsulation does not appear to carry many risks if it is consumed by the mother. However, if consumed by someone else, there are high risks of contamination and passing on blood-borne diseases.

4. How much do they cost?

Placenta Banking
Prices for placenta banking range from £1,495 to £2,090 for storing placental cells and amniotic membrane. Placenta storage could not only be used to improve lives today, but is also a long-term investment in the future health of your baby and cutting-edge regenerative therapies.

Placenta Encapsulation
There are several companies in the UK which perform placenta encapsulation services in purpose-built facilities. Placenta encapsulation prices start at roughly £180 and can range up to £300 for between 90 to 250 placenta pills. These pills normally last between 12 weeks and 6 months, depending on how the pill is stored.

5. What birthing plans are they compatible with?

Placenta Banking
Placenta banking is compatible with almost all birthing plans, including delayed cord clamping, optimal cord clamping and caesarean sections. The collection method is the same as cord blood and tissue collection, and is even part of the same collection kit, making it an easy addition to any mother’s birthing plan.

Placenta Encapsulation
Placenta encapsulation is also compatible with almost all birthing plans, including delayed cord clamping and even cord blood banking as the collection takes place before the placenta is collected for encapsulation. However, placenta banking is not compatible with placenta encapsulation and mothers will need to decide between the two options.

So, placenta banking or placenta encapsulation?

Ultimately, the choice is entirely up to you and it is important that you decide what is best for you and your baby. If you do choose placenta encapsulation and still want to store your baby’s stem cells, you can choose to store cord blood and cord tissue so that your family still has access to stem cell treatments in the future.

If you decide to store your placenta, Cells4Life is the only stem cell bank in the UK to offer placenta storage. We give you the choice to store your placental cells, amnion or both, either by themselves or alongside cord blood and tissue banking. To find out more, click here.

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Taylor, Marygrace., (2019) ‘Placenta Encapsulation: Is it safe to take pills made from your own placenta?’, accessed 31 October 2019, available at: <https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/postpartum-health-and-care/placenta-encapsulation/>

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Castellanos, G. et al. “Amniotic membrane application for the healing of chronic wounds and ulcers” Placenta. 2017 Nov;59:146-153, accessed 31 October 2019, available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0143400417302278> 

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