On June 30, 2017 the CDC published a new article on their website entitled Notes from the Field: Late-Onset Infant Group B Streptococcus Infection Associated with Maternal Consumption of Capsules Containing Dehydrated Placenta - Oregon, 2016. This article has sparked a lot of controversy within my community. I have a few things to say about this, and I'm going to give it to you straight.
First of all, I've been a Certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist for three years with a plethora of clients. My training was extensive in the proper handling techniques. In order to receive certification for making pills, I received a Food Handling Certification, plus, a Bloodborne Pathogens And Infection Control for Placenta Encapsulation Specialists Certification. I haven't had any clients have any adverse reactions or side effects from taking the pills I have created for them. Every one of my clients have reported only beneficial feedback to me, which I collect a week following my services.
What have my clients said about taking the pills I made from their placentas? Great question: mood stabilization, energy increase, increase of milk production; and overall, more postpartum happiness when compared to their other births without placenta pill consumption. All good, no bad. You know what I haven't heard before? That Group B Strep is given to babies via their mothers consuming placenta pills...that is, until now! So, what's the story and what is Group B Strep?
Basically, a woman went in and had a routine checkup at 37 weeks to see if she had Group B Strep, aka GBS. About 1 in 4 women carry Group B Strep and have no symptoms. It is a transient bacteria, also, so you could test negative and then have it right before you give birth (sneaky!). How do you give it to baby? Sometimes, babies are exposed to it and have severe issues (namely sepsis, pneumonia, or meningitis) and the exposure happens sometimes while the baby is in utero and sometimes during labor while passing through the birth canal. It can pass through breastmilk, but, it is currently thought that the health benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any risks. This Mom was negative for GBS at her 37th week. Shortly following the birth, the baby had breathing issues and was taken to the hospital where the baby was found to have GBS. This is scary. As a mom, I'd be very concerned. But, luckily, it's an easy fix with proper antibiotics, although, the infection can come back. The baby was put on antibiotics for 11 days and sent home. Less than a week later, baby came back with the same infection. The mother's breastmilk was tested and found negative for this GBS. Now, if I were a doctor, which I'm not, (I'm just a Doula, Placenta Pill Specialist, a mother of two, and a college graduate with deductive reasoning skills) I'd say that the baby wasn't clear of the first infection. But, the CDC is saying that the reason the baby had the GBS is because the mom was taking GBS infected placenta pills. But, hold on, I just said that the breastmilk wasn't tainted with it. So, how would the pills be to blame? Mystery NOT solved.
So, here is a case of the CDC jumping to conclusions without proper evidence based information and now hospital policies are changing and creating barriers for GBS infected women who want to have placenta pills made. This is also a direct disservice to the American People, as their pledge states they are to "base all public health decisions on the highest quality scientific data that is derived openly and objectively". This is unfortunate since I have yet to find convincing evidence that the pills are to blame for this unfortunate incident. But, honestly, this was just a matter of time. As our community grows, the placenta businesses build, and new mothers are turning to holistic and natural healing processes to aid them in their postpartum healing, the governmental agency steps in to instill fear into the media and into the minds of pregnant women.
We need to be mindful consumers and find properly trained and competent Placenta Encapsulation Specialists, for sure. But, we also need to understand that unregulated natural supplements that are not financially benefitting the large pharmaceutical companies, the health insurance juggernauts, large hospitals, or governmental agencies, are going to be under scrutiny. The easiest step is to discredit what we, as Placenta Encapsulation Specialists, are doing. The next is to start regulating our industry and making it more and more difficult to help women in our community by providing a much needed and beneficial service. Look, it's not for everyone, but, placenta pills absolutely have a place within our community. Women need options to be empowered and this seems to be yet another attack on our available options. Use your own judgement, but, this is where I stand and I will continue to provide my services to those within my community as I did previously without change.