New mums eating their placenta is becoming increasingly common – and not just in places like California where health trends are always raging and celebrities like Hilary Duff, Chrissy Teigen and Kim Kardashian endorse the practice. Though many animals eat the placenta after giving birth, it’s still comparatively rare in humans where it’s referred to as “placentophagy.”
So, should you eat your placenta or is it just another money-making scheme?
The most common way mothers – and sometimes even fathers – eat their newborn’s placenta is in capsule form. The capsules are made by a specialist – typically a doula – by steaming and dehydrating the placenta or processing the raw placenta. People also commonly eat the placenta in smoothies, soups or even in raw or cooked form.
Anecdotally, many women say it helped them mitigate the effects of postpartum depression, improve mood and energy, reduce postnatal bleeding and/or increase milk supple, but there’s not much actual scientific data to proof it besides this relatively recent study.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists doesn’t take a position for or against eating the organ. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, has warned against eating the placenta after a newborn developed recurrent group B streptococcus sepsis following the mother’s consumption of group B Streptococcus-infected placenta capsules. This ties into the fact that the process of turning the organ into a consumable form doesn’t get rid of harmful pathogens like salmonella that can make you or your baby sick.
In other words, placenta pills might not help with PPD, but it also probably won’t hurt. What is valuable to note, though, is that placentophagy is certainly not the only option new mothers have for treating PPD. Unlike placenta pills, cognitive behavioural therapy and antidepressants have both been proven to be effective, as well as a variety of lifestyle changes, according to the Mayo Clinic. So while there may not be any danger to giving placenta pills a go, it’s still definitely important to consult with your doctor if you are worried about PPD, or if you’re experiencing any symptoms.
Bottom line: Given the lack of scientific evidence, it’s generally not advisable to consume anything that might get you or your baby sick.
Would you eat your placenta?