Placentas: Love Them or Eat Them

by Asheya on February 16, 2012

Visit last week’s post, Placentas: Love Them or Leave Them for a few ideas regarding what some families choose to do with the placenta after the birth of a baby. 

This post is about placentophagy, or eating the placenta.

For some of us, who have heard of placentophagy, follow blogs of people who have done it, did it ourselves, or grew up with hippie flavoured parents, this will be no big deal.  For others, this could be a “PEOPLE DO WHAT?!” [[[shudder]]] situation.

The first question often asked when the idea of eating a placenta comes up, is WHY anyone would do this.  Well, it bears mentioning that consuming the placenta is a normal mammal behaviour.   Not all mammal behaviours are seen in humans, but there are some ancient cultures where placenta consumption was considered normal, so biologically speaking placentophagy is not maladaptive or harmful.  Or even all that abnormal.  It’s just kind of…different.
But what if it were helpful?  There is research which shows health benefits in rats, and a small study as well as anecdotal evidence that show benefits for humans in eating one’s placenta after the birth of a baby.  Benefits include replenishing iron in post partum women, increased energy, decreased bleeding, increased milk production, faster return of the uterus to a pre pregnant size and state, and aiding or mitigating post partum mood disorders (Placenta Benefits, Wikipedia).  Now those are some benefits most of us could see the merits of, and perhaps even be willing to get on board with.  Eating a placenta cannot feasibly be harmful (particularly one’s own), and may be helpful, so, why not?

But how?

Lord Manly, a blogger from the UK, posted with photos and recipes a description of his family’s style of placentophagy, making a casserole of his wife’s placenta.  This would be your most low tech approach, although you need to be not of a squeamish nature to prepare or ingest placenta like this.

Dionna from Code Name: Mama carved several pieces off her placenta and had them in smoothies for the first week post partum, and had the rest encapsulated (dried, ground, and put in capsules).  The smoothie method would perhaps be for your slightly squeamish natured people who don’t want to actually taste the purportedly liver like flavour of the placenta.  Logic says that uncooked, fresh placenta would have the most benefits to give, since hormones and other biochemical structures can be altered or destroyed by cooking.  Dionna explained the process to her three year old son;  “[W]hen mama had Ailia, it took a lot of energy and my body lost a lot of nutrients. Many women ingest – eat – their placenta to help rebuild their strength and repair their bodies after birth. We saved some pieces of my placenta, and I’m going to put some in my smoothie.”

Gina from The Feminist Breeder had her placenta encapsulated after the homebirth of her third child, and purports “I swear I’m not even a hippy”
“I’m encapsulating my placenta because scientific research shows that it can have enormous benefits for my health, including reducing my risk for that damned postpartum depression, and helping to boost my milk supply.  My Type-A personality prefers to steer clear of mind-altering drugs anyway, so if there’s a way to keep my own feel-good chemicals in my body, then by all means, I will try that way first.  And I do NOT have to cut off chunks of this veiny thing and put them in a hippy-dippy kale and beet smoothie.  Nope!  I can just pop a couple of pills that look like vitamins, which just so happen to contain an organ of mine.  No big, hairy deal.”

Here are some other stories of everyday folks who participated in placentophagy:
 Squiddoo
Momlogic  

 It might be unusual to consume your placenta, but it is not illogical.  All hail the placenta!

What do you think?

Placenta encapsulation services in North America 
Placenta encapsulation services in Canada
Placenta encapsulation services in Canada II
TFB on benefits and methods of encapsulation

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama February 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Awesome series! I've been meaning to write about placentas, since I was so into mine after Ailia was born ;) What I'm really looking forward to is using some of the pills after my cycle returns – I've heard they can really help!

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Rachel @ Lautaret Bohemiet February 16, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Love it. I always planned on writing about eating mine. I mentioned it in passing a time or two but never got around to writing the post (and probably never will), but this was great. For some, yeah, it's probably going to be a big shocker!

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FabulousMamaChronicles February 18, 2012 at 11:52 pm

I ate mine in capsules because I was too squeamish to try the smoothie version. I may attempt after my next birth but we'll see how I feel at the time. I felt that it helped me with my PPD.

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