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“Placenta: It’s What’s For Dinner”

An Interview with Tiff Hare of Karma Birth Services, held by Lizzy Spohr Russinko of Inspired Family

Tara & Dave - Placenta-2Photograph by Tammy Bradshaw Photography http://tammybradshawphoto.com

Lizzy: Hi Tiff! We are so excited to be sharing Karma Birth Services with our Inspired Family community.

Tiff: Thank you so much for highlighting this topic! It’s becoming more and more popular amongst the mainstream community… any time I can share about the beauty of this amazing organ, I jump at the opportunity.

Lizzy: So let’s just jump right in to the part we know everyone wants to hear about. What is placenta encapsulation (including tinctures, smoothies and salves) and how did you get into offering it as a service?

Tiff: Moms have been eating their placentas since the beginning of time as a way to help them through their postpartum experiences. In fact, humans are the only mammals that do not eat their placentas as the status quo. Placenta consumption can help moms with so many things, including warding off the dreaded “baby blues” and the more serious postpartum depression, lessening postpartum bleeding, helping encourage a good milk supply,  replenishing iron and other vitamins,  easing stress and transition, and just helping moms have a better overall postpartum experience.

I got into the world of birth after having an extremely traumatic loss at 22 weeks into my first pregnancy. Like many women who choose to become doulas and birth educators, I searched for a way to give back and to help other women avoid what I have been through.  I first became a birth educator, which led me to establish a doula practice. I decided to offer placenta encapsulation as a service to my doula clients.  With some help from a midwife and the internet, I began studying how to process placentas safely. I was astounded by what my clients were saying to me about their postpartum experiences. After some time I realized that I wanted to learn more. At that point I enrolled in a certification program with Full Circle Placenta Encapsulation and I am just a couple of requirements away from completion. I am certified with OSHA and hold my NJ Food Handlers Safety card.

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Lizzy: I am so sorry to hear about your loss. It is amazing and inspiring that you turned your grief into something beautiful that is now benefiting so many moms, babies, and families. What is the process for encapsulating placenta? What about tinctures, smoothies and salves? What method do you recommend?

Tiff: When I process a placenta, I offer two methods; either steamed or balanced… the choice really is dependent upon the needs and desires of each individual mother. Steaming a placenta just adds more warming qualities to the organ, which is based on the concept of warming and cooling foods found in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The balanced method just means that the steaming process is skipped; it does not mean that pieces of raw placenta are inserted into capsules! After the steaming process, if applicable, it’s just a matter of slicing the placenta into thin strips and then dehydrating it, so as to remove all of the moisture. Then, I grind the strips into a fine powder and put the powder into vegetarian capsules for consumption. So, placenta encapsulation means that I am turning a woman’s placenta into pills so that she can consume her placenta and get all of the benefits of doing so without actually having to “eat it”, per se. Placenta tinctures, which I highly recommend that women purchase in addition to their pills, involves putting a small piece of fresh placenta into 100 proof alcohol and then allowing it to ferment for at least six weeks. Some of the benefits of a tincture include balancing of hormones once the postpartum cycle returns, lessen bleeding during postpartum cycles, increased energy, and it can even help to balance hormones during menopause. The maternal mother and daughters can even utilize a tincture during any times of hormonal fluctuation. The reason I really encourage women to get the tincture is because I have had so many clients tell me how worried they were about getting to the bottom of their pill jar. With the tincture, they don’t have to worry because it has an indefinite shelf life, whereas the pills have a life of no more than two years if stored in a freezer. Smoothies offer a women an immediate burst of energy after her birth and it’s just what it sounds like…it’s a smoothie made from whichever delicious fruits and veggies a woman prefers with the addition of a small piece of raw placenta mixed in. I make the smoothie for mom right there in her hospital room within twenty-four hours of her birth (or in her kitchen if she births at home). My clients report that placenta smoothies taste just as delicious as any other smoothie with lots of added benefits. Another option is a placenta salve, which is made from natural oils and herbs along with some dried placenta powder. These can be used for any skin irritations such as diaper rash, eczema, burns, etc. Mainly I recommend this healing salve for women who have cesarean surgeries because it can really help with the healing of the incision (once the wound has closed).

Lizzy: Can you tell us a little bit about the benefits of consuming your placenta after giving birth?

Tiff: There is still very little research in this area; after all, not many placenta encapsulation specialists have the money to fund such studies! However, there is research that supports many of the concepts behind the process. For example, studies connect low iron stores with depressive symptoms, or placenta consumption after birth with an increase in lactose and protein in their milk. The anecdotal evidence, however, is astounding. If you ask around, most women who have taken placenta pills rave about the benefits. I mentioned some of the benefits above, and the list is long, but a few more are protection from infection in the case of retained placenta, providing mom with a consistent flow of oxytocin, “the love hormone”, and even helping to provide natural pain relief after the labor and birthing process.

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Lizzy: Ok, enough about placenta. Let’s talk about you. Tell us about a day in the life of you.

Tiff: [Laughing] Well, I have a four year old who really consumes most of my time. We are involved in a “play school” co-op in which we do all sorts of exciting activities. We are really never home and my life usually feels like I am a participant on “Beat the Clock”. In between all of our mom and kid activities, we drive all over Central and South Jersey, as well as the Philadelphia area to pick up placentas from moms and deliver their pills back to them. My travel area has expanded recently and I service up to an hour and a half outside of Cherry Hill, where I live. Typically I process about six to eight placentas per month so when I am home, I am prepping my tools, processing a placenta, or cleaning my kitchen! I also offer consultations with all of my placenta consuming moms, as well as follow up with them at least a couple of times after they give birth. So I am pretty busy. On top of all that, I am pregnant and due in July. This is an IVF pregnancy, so for months I had to find a way to fit in fertility treatments, as well. I, myself, had a terrible experience postpartum with my four year old. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware then that there was even such a thing as placenta encapsulation. I look forward to seeing the results this time around… though I am not looking forward to processing my own placenta just after giving birth since I know how much work goes into it! I’ve already asked my husband if he would do it for me with my directive and he didn’t seem too enthused.

Lizzy: What 5 things do you never leave home without?

Tiff: [Laughing again] My son (90% of the time, anyway), my cell phone, my placenta cooler for transport, some snacks, and a water bottle. That was actually a difficult questions because I am sort of minimalist by nature, so five was a stretch!

Lizzy: [Laughing] I wish I could be as minimalist as you! I think I would have trouble keeping my list down to 10 things! [Sigh.] Ok, back to business. Do you offer any other services aside from working with placenta?

Tiff: I am a certified birth educator as well as a trained doula, but I have decided that encapsulation is for me. It just fits so nicely with everything I want to do. It allows me the flexibility to spend as much time being mom as I like. For example, I take my son with me on pick-ups and drop-offs, and I typically process while he is sleeping. Specializing only in encapsulations allows me to put all of my focus into that and to learn as much as I can about the process. It’s really amazing to me how much I continue to learn about placentas on a daily basis.  I am so happy to have found a way to stay involved with the birth community that works for me.

Lizzy: One more off topic question… If you were shipwrecked on a desert island what 3 books would you want with you?

Tiff: Hmmm… maybe the Tao Te Ching and two of my son’s favorite books because there’s no way I would end up shipwrecked without him!

Lizzy: Ah, I love that answer. Thanks for bearing with me; I think it is fun to hear about the woman behind the business!

Tiff: I think it’s fun, too, and I really like talking about myself when people are interested!

Lizzy: How can readers find you if they are interested in your placenta services? (Facebook, email, website, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.)

Tiff: My Facebook page is where I am most active and that’s just “Karma Birth Services”. I do also have a Twitter account, but I haven’t really gotten into Tweeting yet…as I said, I’m a minimalist by nature and I really try to keep my life as simple as possible. I actually hate Pinterest and stay as far away from that site as possible. It just stresses me out! My website is www.karmabirthservices.com and I have lots of information on there about my services and the way things are done in the placenta world.

Lizzy: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak me today! We are so excited to have you as an Inspired Family partner!

CLICK BELOW TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY for a Free Placenta Print and Tincture with Purchase of Encapsulation from Karma Birth Services!

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