If you can get beyond the initial “ewwww!” factor of eating your placenta (technically know as placentophagy, if you’re wondering), the debate on whether your placenta provides any unique health benefits is quite interesting.
While maybe cultures, especially those that follow Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques, revere the practice, other cultures – like our own – typically find it to be a bit gross and possibly cannibalistic.
While the Western scientific community is still out on whether placentophagy is beneficial, proponents argue that the placenta contains high levels of prostaglandin, which stimulates a shrinking of the uterus after delivery. Additionally, the practice is thought to reduce rates of postpartum depression, increase milk supply, and speed along a mother’s recovery. The placenta notably contains high levels of iron and Vitamin-B12.
Interestingly enough, many hospitals consider placentas to be ‘biohazardous waste’ and will fight patients who want to take their placentas home. Other hospitals require that the patient’s doctor signs a release form before they allow the placenta to be carted off in a cooler.
Here are six common ways (well, relatively speaking) that women consume their placentas following birth:
- Some Like It Raw: A potential midwife told me a story of how one of her patients, who wouldn’t stop hemorrhaging after birth, calmly asked for a knife, carved a bit of placenta off, and ate it… raw. For what it’s worth, the bleeding stopped almost immediately afterwards.
- Others Like It Neat: Most women, of course, do not go the raw route and opt for something a little more – well, neat. There are many services that will pick up your placenta from the hospital (or your house if you had a home birth or were not legally allowed to release your placenta to someone else at the hospital), dehydrate it, and encapsulate it in pill form. A bloody, messy placenta disappears, and a neat little bottle of ‘vitamins’ comes back. I can stomach that.
- Some DIY: There are some very interesting tutorials on how to encapsulate your own placenta at home, saving you money (but perhaps not time). Here’s one example.
- Others Blend It Up: Placenta Smoothie, anyone?
- Some Do the Jerky: Using a dehydrator, some moms opt to dehydrate their placenta in strips. Word is that it tastes much like regular jerky.
- Others Go Gourmet: Yes, you can apparently make Roast Placenta, Placenta Cocktail (with V-8 juice), Placenta Lasagne, or Placenta Spaghetti Bologna. Here are the recipes.
Would you eat your placenta? As my husband is a Traditional Chinese Medicine physician, I’m planning on having a service encapsulate mine into pills. I figure it can’t hurt – and as long as I don’t have to eat raw placenta meat, I’m cool with it.