Lisa Cotter, placenta encapsulation specialist and co-owner Placenta TLC in conversation with Mary McCarthy
Eating the placenta When I had my first baby Amber nine years ago I found it so difficult to cope. I felt I turned into someone else.
I was really into homeopathy and was interested in how consuming your placenta could help with mood and milk production post-partum and I wished I had tried this.
I saw a programme on Channel 4 about people cooking up their placenta and eating it which was a bit gross – but I reckoned if it was in a small pill I would try it; I would have tried anything.
A year later, I was on maternity from a job share from GE Healthcare when I did the placenta encapsulation course. A lady from the UK came over and did the training in another girl’s home in Mayo.
I planned to try the placenta encapsulation on myself with my second baby Sophie (now 8 years old) but she was born prematurely and my placenta was sent to pathology.
I wondered if other women would like to do this. I didn’t feel Ireland was ready but I thought why not advertise and see what happens?
Lessons in listening
I didn’t enjoy school in Middleton probably because my dyslexia wasn’t picked up until I was 28 and I had to get through by listening.
My writing is fine but my spelling is quite bad and after school I felt I was not able for college.
I went straight into working for Brown Thomas and the Great Outdoors in Cork and I liked retail as I’m good with talking to people and finding out what they want.
When I was 21, I wanted to buy a house so I joined GE Healthcare as I could save for a deposit faster with pharmaceutical factory work.
I was only diagnosed with dyslexia when I made a mistake with a batch number and my supervisor sent me to be assessed.
It’s a shame I did not get more educational support at school but my career has worked out perfectly for me.
Slice and dice
I ended up staying with GE for 16 years working on the factory floor on the packaging side.
Everything was so well-structured which helps me with the placenta encapsulation process as all the procedures and protocols are identical each time.
When someone books, either myself or my business partner Trish posts them a thermal envelope with ice packs that the midwife uses to pop the placenta in.
We have a courier pick up the placenta if the client is outside Cork, and if it’s local myself or Trish does this.
I have a lab in my garden where I clean the placenta, slice it, and put it in the dehydrator. It is like Jerky and is then ground into a fine powder in the equivalent of a Nutribullet.
I then use a capsule machine to distribute the powder into regular sized pills.
We also can frame the cord. I cut it off and shape it into a heart, or the baby’s name if it is a short one and then spray it with gold.
I started with one customer in Cork who told her sister, who then told her friend who told her friend and it went from there. From that first client I got so many customers. Influencers on social media really help us but we never pay them.
In 2012, I trained Trish – who is now my business partner – we were good friends and had met on a homeopathy course around thirteen years ago.
At first we were covering each other when we wanted to take a day off, and it made sense to go into business together.
If anything, we have been busier in the pandemic as women are feeling they need an extra boost and more fathers are planning encapsulation as a surprise. There are a lot of extra phone calls if this is the case as they are anxious to get their one job right.
They often get in touch weeks after to say those pills are truly magic.
When my third baby, Finn, was born (now aged 6) I finally got to try the process on myself.
I found it so much easier to manage this time around – I was more relaxed and had loads of milk. Finn loved the boob and was on it morning, noon and night.
Making it work
Between us we work 365 days a year – childbirth does not stop for holidays and neither do we. We take every second client each, it is like a job share.
We get on so well and chat many times a day. Trish lives nearby and also has a lab in her garden and we always manage even when we are extra busy.
In the morning, I get the kids organised and head out to my lab where I usually have a placenta to finish and another one to start on. At some point every day I may head to Cork University Maternity Hospital to do a pick-up or drop-off.
I arrange my work around the kids and I can manage even on school holidays as I’m within earshot in my lab. I tell them I need an hour and set them up with snacks and activities, or to watch TV, and my neighbours in Ladysbridge often help.
When I started out, my husband was unsure and was saying ‘Jaysus, what are you up to now”, but over the past nine years he has seen me build up a nice business.
I was first in Ireland to offer placenta encapsulation and he is proud of me.