From placenta cocktails to lasagnas I can't help but question why placenta eating is getting so popular among young mothers. For those who don't know where I'm coming from: the placenta is the organ that attaches itself to the developing fetus within the mother's womb and acts as a bridge between developing fetal tissue and the uterine wall. The placenta delivers nutrients to the fetus and also removes waste. In addition to delivering a baby, a woman will also deliver the placenta afterwards. Lately many woman are asking to keep their afterbirth to eat later in a casserole or have processed into capsules for the rumored health benefits. But where did this idea come from, are there health benefits to eating your own placenta and if so, how do you do it?
Placenta Eating: Where Did the Idea Come From?
Placentophagy is the act of mammals eating the placenta of their young after childbirth. Many animals and some herbivores are known to eat their placentas after giving birth for numerous reasons including to ease the pain from the delivery. This fact has many people buzzing about humans eating their placentas and the health benefits it may offer. Although animals have been chowing down on placentas for years, human placenta eating isn't as popular and even in cultures where the placenta is highly regarded it is not ingested. Many cultures honor the placenta by burying it or keeping it for ritualistic purposes. Chinese traditional medicine is an exception. For thousands of years placentas have been used in medicines and dried human placenta is referred to as Ziheche. Ziheche is used mostly for long term illnesses, liver and kidney health.
Health Benefits of Eating Your Placenta
So we've determined that eating your placenta is not an entirely made up notion, but why dig in and eat it? Some medical professionals are claiming it can aid and even prevent postpartum depression as well as help with health issues surrounding pregnancy. The avoidance of postpartum hemorrhaging and the increase production of breast milk are given credit to eating the placenta. The placenta is also known to give the mother boosts of the vitamin B6, iron and protein. The increased nutrients and vitamins can help override depression and general baby blues. According to Jodi Selander of Placenta Benefits eating the placenta is not hazardous to one's health and she gives many examples of woman feeling great after taking placenta capsules and/or preparing their placenta for dinner.
I'm not convinced yet though and neither is a spokeswoman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Maggie Blott told the BBC last year that there was no reason to eat the placenta quoting "Animals eat their placenta to get nutrition, but when people are already well-nourished, there is no benefit." There is also the issue of non-conclusive evidence and studies. If you search for medical studies there aren't any. The only scientific proof I found while researching was a study performed before 2000. In conclusion, there needs to be more evidence and scientific proof before I blend up a placenta cocktail or fight the court for my afterbirth.
How Do You Like Your Placenta?
Rare, Medium, or Well Done?
Still interested in eating your placenta or want to hear how it's done for entertainment's sake? To begin, one must request their placenta from the hospital and bring it home to be prepared. It appears to be easier if you give birth at home to take best care of the afterbirth. According to Placenta Benefits you can keep your placenta fresh by keeping it iced before cooking it or having a Certified Placenta Encapsulator dehydrate it and put it in capsules to take everyday. There are many recipes online including placenta but my favorite is placenta lasagna. To find out more about placenta encapsulation or making your placenta into pills, check out Placenta Benefits or read Afterbirth: It's What's For Dinner a Time article by Joel Stein about his experience with his wife taking placenta pills. Will you be eating your placenta? Know someone who has? Share your stories in the comments and enlighten us all who are disgusted by the idea!