I know I know, it sounds really weird BUT hear me out. As a newly pregnant woman I was doing all the research on birth, getting my birth plan ready, figuring out all the baby gear I needed and what I wanted to pack in my hospital bag. I wanted to avoid as many unnecessary interventions and medicines as possible. I also talked to A LOT of new moms (mostly to ask about how bad labor really was)… And I heard from two close friends that ingesting their placenta really helped them through the 2 weeks postpartum. So I did my research and found it isn’t as uncommon as I thought.
Placentophagy is the practice of consuming the placenta. Many cultures have recognized the incredible healing properties of the placenta and use it in a variety of ways. Some cultures plant it outside, others feed it to animals, others ingest it. There is some indication in medical texts from ancient China that healers used the placenta to treat ailments, like infertility or liver and kidney problems. In nature, many mammals routinely ingest the placenta after birth.
The theory makes sense to me: the placenta is considered a miracle organ because our bodies create it solely for the purpose of nourishing and protecting the growing fetus. All the nutrients and oxygen delivered to the baby pass through the placenta. The organ is also rich with iron and vitamins B6 and B12, as well as important postpartum hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Many midwives and doulas support new Mamas in consuming the placenta because theoretically it can help to replenish lost nutrients, increase milk production, curb postpartum depression and slow postpartum bleeding. The science community does not back up the claim that placentophagy is effective and there have been some studies to support this, it should also be noted that these same studies do not show any adverse effects either. Basically there has not been enough rigorous scientific studies to demonstrate the effectiveness of placentophagy to date.
Most of the evidence of its benefit comes from Mamas who have tried it and experienced a positive outcome. I am one of them. I had my placenta encapsulated (dehydrated in pill form) and I took my pills a few times a day for the 3 weeks after giving birth to Everly. If I were feeling overwhelmed, tired or “off” I would take my placenta pills and immediately feel relief! There were times that Aaron would say sweetly, “Honey did you take your placenta pills?” usually right after I freaked out about something very insignificant … (like when I couldn’t find my phone charger and burst into a waterfall of tears) or… (when I was terrified that he was going back to work and I would be ALL alone with this tiny new baby). I think the power of thought and the Placebo effect may have played a role in my perceived effectiveness of taking the pills, but honestly I don’t care because all I know is taking the pills made me feel better!
How to do it:
Guys, you don’t just take a big bite out of a slimy organ, there are civilized processes in place to dehydrate, dry and grind up the placenta to fill into pill capsules. Bring a cooler with you to the hospital and let your team know beforehand that you want to take your placenta home. Make sure it is processed within 24 hrs.
1. It can help with postpartum “baby blues” which occurs the 2 weeks after birth when your hormones are re-balancing
2. Increases milk supply
3. Helps uterus contract and get smaller
4. Helps new Mamas regain energy
Risks? Not really any if you ingest your own, obviously if you ate someone else’s then there would be risk of blood born illness contamination. The pills can have a pungent iron like odor but other than that it’s all natural!
Placebo effect? Maybe! But who cares, if you actually felt better… then it worked!
What do you guys think? Has anyone had a positive or negative experience with eating your placenta?