(Health Secrets) A new trend just following birth is eating the placenta, a practice known as placentophagy. Most land-dwelling mammals eat their afterbirth to replace lost nutrients and to bond with their newborns. Although traditionally humans have not engaged in this practice, researchers are looking into the possible benefits.
There is already some basis for the belief that placenta consumption can positively impact health. Practitioners of Chinese medicine have long considered eating dried placenta a restorative practice; however consuming a placenta in any form is a new concept in the West.
A few celebrities have jumped on the placentophagy bandwagon. Alicia Silverstone reportedly ate her placenta and shared recipes for how to prepare placenta with the world. January Jones of TV’s Mad Men admitted to taking dried placenta capsules after the birth of her son. It seems that most newcomers are following in Jones’s footsteps with capsules instead of cooking and eating their placenta.
A ground placenta can fill around 35 to 70 capsules depending on the size and thickness of the individual organ. Home birth midwife Claudia Booker says to take two capsules per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, to assist in healing after giving birth.
New moms give thumbs up to eating placenta
A placenta is an organ that grows on the uterine wall in pregnant women. It allows nutrients and oxygen to pass through to the fetus via the umbilical cord. Placentas also get rid of waste. The premise behind the purported benefits of eating a placenta is that the organ retains the nutrients that have been passing from mother to baby throughout the pregnancy. The physical toll that giving birth takes on a mother’s body may be lessened by eating the potentially nutrient-rich placenta.
Proponents also say that placentophagy stimulates breast milk production, increases energy, and could decrease risk of post-natal depression. Babies might benefit from absorbing more nutrients through breast milk.
Research on Placentophagy
The Royal College of Midwives neither encourages nor discourages mothers from eating their placenta, claiming a lack of sufficient research to form an opinion. However a study obtaining information from 189 mothers who had eaten their encapsulated placenta was much more positive on the topic. This study published in the Ecology of Food and Nutrition journal found that most mothers stated they had received benefits from placentophagy and that they planned to consume their placentas again in the future if they had more children.
Although steaming, drying, and then grinding the placenta into powder for use in capsules is the most common method for consuming placentas, some women will blend it into a fruit smoothie to drink soon after giving birth. Others might eat it cooked or raw.
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