It may help fight postpartum depression and boost lactation for breastfeeding mums, but would you consider eating your own placenta?
For Sydney mum Monique Frankel the question was an easy one to answer. She consumed her placenta after the birth of her first child and says she’s do it again.
Monique, mum to two-year-old Calliope and pregnant with her second child, tells us she was worried about postnatal depression and her milk supply when she decided to consume her own placenta. “I figured it might not help, but it won’t hurt,” she says.
The process, known as placentophagy, can be done by a professional placenta service provider or, like Monique, you can choose to DIY. “We put the placenta in an ice cream container and stored it in an esky at the hospital,” she recalls.
The hospital staff were happy to let them take it home. In between newborn feeds and changes, Monique cleaned the placenta, cut off the umbilical cord and used a bamboo steamer to cook it. Next she used a food dehydrator to dehydrate the placenta before whisking it into fine powder and encapsulating it.
Monique took two placenta pills a day for the first two months. “I felt tired because Callie had reflux but I had really good milk supply and was coping well with the constant sleep deprivation. As soon as the pills ran out, everything went to hell in a hand basket.”
Monique isn’t the first mum to notice the possible connection between placentophagy and postnatal depression. Celebrity mums, such as Alicia Silverstone, January Jones and Kourtney Kardashian have all made headlines for crediting their postpartum recovery success to eating their own placenta.
While the link between postnatal depression and placentophagy has not been studied enough to deliver any conclusive findings, there have been a few studies that suggest some connection.
Researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, conducted a three-month survey of 189 women who consumed their placenta after birth – 95 percent reported a positive or very positive experience.And the US National Institute of Health has announced The Human Placenta Project, a $41 million initiative to better understand the role of the placenta and to examine the health benefits of placentophagy.
The practice has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years and is quickly becoming more widespread across Australia. If you aren’t the DIY type, there are several different placenta service providers that offer pick up, preparation and delivery of the placenta capsules for around $1 per pill.
Of course, if capsules aren’t your thing, you can choose to eat the placenta as a meal, in a smoothie, on your pizza or even in your spaghetti sauce. There is even an eBook, 25 Placenta Recipes – Easy and Delicious Recipes for Cooking with Placenta that may give you some ideas.
According to Health USA, while there are no concrete health benefits, there are also no known dangers to the practice as long as the placenta is not contaminated.
So, Babyologists, would you consider it?