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Yes, All Women Should Be Able to Take Home Their Placenta

Image Source: Heather Neal
Image Source: Heather Neal

If you had told me five years ago my ear would perk up when I heard a news piece about a state passing a law on women getting to keep their own placenta, I would have said you were crazy. But fast-forward a child later, and I’m all about it.

Recently Texas passed a law that women are allowed to take their placenta home from the hospital after giving birth, making them the third state to do so (joining Hawaii and Oregon). If this sounds completely and totally bizarre, let me back up a little bit.

There are some schools of thought that indicate consuming the placenta after birth can provide a mother with positive benefits. It’s common for animals to engage in this process, so it’s not a huge leap to consider it for humans as well. Some of the reported benefits include decreasing the occurrence of postpartum depression, increasing milk supply, and improving recovery after giving birth.

It’s all still being scientifically researched — some evidence supports this and others does not — but there is a huge amount of anecdotal evidence that indicates there may be some truth to it all. Or who knows, it could all be a placebo effect. Either way, it’s not as uncommon of a practice as you might think.

I’d heard a little about this practice when I was pregnant with my now 3-year-old son, but not enough to jump on board. It felt a little “crunchy” and a lot bit wacko, but given my legitimate fear of postpartum depression, in hindsight I probably should have looked into a little bit more.

There are many ways women eat the placenta after birth, including raw, but the most common seems to be drying it and encapsulating it into pills. When you think of it in pill form, it loses a little bit of its oddness. No matter how you choose to consume it, it involves bringing your placenta home from the hospital, something that not all states or facilities allow.

I’d never put much thought into bringing organs or body parts home from the hospital, but it doesn’t seem that far out there considering I know people that have brought their kidney stones home with them as a matter of pride; a trophy of sorts.

However, many hospitals state that anything removed from you is deemed “medical waste” and therefore isn’t allowed to leave the facility. That too I understand, but there’s a fine line between something being a part of you and when it becomes waste.

I don’t know if I’ll ever decide to do something like eat or encapsulate my placenta, but allowing it by law is a big step in the right direction for allowing women the freedom to choose more natural alternatives and to ultimately take a stance in their own health care.

I know personally I was absolutely terrified of postpartum depression. It was probably my biggest fear of my entire pregnancy, and that’s saying a lot for a first-timer where everything is potentially scary and unknown.

I have a history of depression and I had been through a rough bout not long before I became pregnant. Not only was I terrified of postpartum depression, but of depression during pregnancy as well. I had no idea how my body and brain would react to such a change in hormones.

I knew this going into pregnancy and made the ultimate decision to stay on antidepressants throughout my pregnancy and while breastfeeding, just in case. I’d switched to a more researched and supposedly “safer” option, but I couldn’t help but wonder the entire time whether it was the right decision.

My son was born early and had minor health complications as an infant, and as moms tend to do, I couldn’t help but question whether I had something to do with that.

Looking back on it I’d still make the same choice because I think mental health and stability is hugely important (as important as physical health), especially during such a life-altering experience. However, had I had more confidence or information or evidence about a more natural alternative, I likely would have leaned towards that instead.

So whether I’d actually go for encapsulating my placenta when it came down to it remains unsaid, but knowing that I’d have the option and I wouldn’t be the only one in the hospital requesting such a thing would be really nice.

Did you or would you eat your placenta? Do you think hospitals should get a say in whether you can keep it or not?

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Article Posted 4 years Ago

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