Let's Talk About Eating Your Placenta After Birth
By: Alex Harmon, ellaslist
Consuming your placenta after giving birth might seem strange, even a little cannibalistic, but it’s actually a trend that is becoming increasingly popular in Sydney.
And while we call it a trend, eating your placenta (placentophagy as it’s scientifically known) is actually a tradition that has been around for centuries. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as long ago as the 1500s, although these days, particularly in western cultures, the method is to have your placenta steamed, dehydrated, ground, and placed into pills.
Why Should We Eat Our Baby’s Placenta?
The placenta is your baby’s lifeline while in the womb and contains an abundance of great properties believed to make a huge difference to a new mother’s mental health, recovery and well being. A lot of new mothers say that it is great for energy levels, milk supply and repairing the body after child birth. Let us be blunt and say that the scientific studies are inconclusive and many of the mothers we’ve heard from admit that, yes, it could be a placebo effect. It all comes down to your own belief system and whether you want to fork out the (on average) $200 for the pills which may or may not do anything.
I Want To Believe
You’re a new mum. You’re tired, you’re in pain, you’re thinking what have I got to lose? This is what placenta pills are believed to do for your body:
- contain the mother’s own natural hormones
- balance the mother’s system
- replenish depleted iron
- give the mother more energy
- lessen bleeding postnatally
- increase milk production
- help the mother to have a happier postnatal period
- speed up the return of the uterus to pre-pregnancy state
How Do I Eat It?
There are a number of ways you can consume placenta but it’s something you should decide before you go into labour. The most popular way is to get the placenta steamed and dehydrated and made up into capsules, but you can also boil it and eat it as you would a piece of meat or you can add the placenta to a smoothie (usually made with water, banana and berries). The pills are obviously the most ‘savoury’ way to do this but some people believe that eating it raw is the most beneficial as, like anything, steaming or boiling can take away the nutrients. There are lots of recipes online for smoothies and raw methods if you feel inspired to go down this path.
Are There Any Risks?
Again, the jury is still out on this. What we do know is that, like any other meat, it can spoil and contain dangerous bacteria, so if you aren’t eating it right away you should freeze it until you’re ready. The best thing to do is go through a reputable company who specialise in this service – they will collect the placenta after you’ve given birth, clean it and deliver it back to you in your choice of consumption method. There are lots of these companies in Sydney!
There is also the risk that mothers experiencing post-natal depression may rely on their placenta pills to cure them when they should be seeking professional help. Always speak to your doctor first if you are experiencing any symptoms.
What do you think about eating your placenta? Tell us below!