Eating Placenta - what you need to know

There are enough things to think about when you give birth without wondering whether you should request to keep your placenta. Let alone eat it. Actually wait a second, you go through enough weird and wonderful things during childbirth that eating your own placenta (afterbirth) may seem pretty normal in consideration.

Eating Placenta - what you need to know

 

Celebrities have hit the news over the years with their shocking revelations that they’ve kept and eaten their placenta, with many posing proudly with jars of placenta capsules claiming that it’s helped them recover after birth. So is there any scientific proof that eating your own placenta is the key to feeling strong and full of energy?

Placenta consumption, also known as placentophagy, makes sense in essence. After all, the placenta’s role is to provide the foetus with a supply of oxygen, vitamins and minerals for it to grow into a healthy baby. It also contains iron, B6 and B12 which are required for energy production - just what you’d need after an exhausting labour. Perhaps most importantly, it contains oestrogen and progesterone which are important postpartum hormones and which many believe, can protect against postnatal depression. Postnatal depression can affect more than 1 in 10 women in the UK and it can be debilitating and destructive if left unmanaged; often it’s hard for women to tell if they have postnatal depression as it can appear gradually. In the animal kingdom, most mammals eat their afterbirth to help them regain their energy and be better equipped to feed their offspring.

But what do doctors say? The claims put to women eating their own placenta ranges from increased energy, supplementation of natural vitamins and minerals, decreased risk of postnatal depression and also increased breast milk. However, there just haven’t been enough studies to be able to confirm any of these claims and some health professionals warn it may be an unknown risk.

 

According to Roger Marwood, from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, There are no proven physical benefits when a mother decides to consume her placenta, regardless of whether she eats it raw in a smoothie or in capsule form. Yes, it may be full of protein, but there is no evidence to suggest that it has any nutritional benefits, therefore it is unlikely to ward off postnatal depression, help you sleep, increase breast milk production or give you more energy.

 If you want to eat placenta, here’s what you should know:

  • First, check with your hospital or birthing centre - some may have policies in place which treat placenta as a biohazard and therefore to be disposed. Keeping your placenta must be arranged in advance and be prepared to change practitioner if they're not in favour of it.
  • Only eat your own placenta - eating anyone else’s can carry a risk of disease.
  • You may not experience any benefits - since there are few studies into eating placenta, there are no definite benefits.
  • There’s several different ways to eat placenta, the most common being to eat it like meat or to turn it into a powder. There are professional placenta chefs who can cook it for you and companies which can turn it into capsules.
  • If you're going to eat your placenta as ‘meat’, treat it like meat - freeze it or cook it straight away; you can turn it into a stew or even blend it into smoothies.
  • Use a professional, reputable company if you decide you want to hire someone to dry your placenta and turn it into a powder; you don’t want any added herbs or unknown ingredients added.
  • After eating your placenta, keep an eye on your health and make sure you’re feeling ok. Arrange to see a doctor if you don’t. And definitely see a professional if you develop post-natal depression, eating placenta isn’t a sure fire way to prevent this.

 

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