Should you do it?!
The practice of placentophagia, or ingestion of the placenta, is increasing among newly postpartum women. The benefits of placenta ingestion are still being studied, but it’s credibility is increasing as new mothers celebrate its benefits. Here in Chicago, even hospitals are accustomed to it, as most have developed an official placenta release form.
1. It’s a mammalian norm. All but aquatic mammals ingest their placenta and amniotic fluid, even the plant-eating types. (Yep, you can do it if you’re a vegetarian or vegan!)
2. It relieves pain! Rat ingestion of the placenta and/or amniotic fluid causes release of opioids in the brain, producing an analgesic, or pain-reducing, effect. Remember, you’re pushing a baby out of your vagina or delivering it through a head-sized incision in your abdomen…it’s gonna hurt afterward…
3. It’s loaded with nutrients easily depleted during pregnancy and childbirth, particularly iron, proteins, and vitamin B6. Additional hormones–like estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin–are likely present in the placenta, but studies have not confirmed how easily the body utilizes them and how processing of the placenta affects their integrity.
4. OXYTOCIN! Studies have demonstrated that the placenta is rich in oxytocin, the magic hormone responsible for orgasm (making your baby), contractions (birthing your baby and bringing the uterus back to it’s normal size after birth), breastfeeding (specifically milk letdown, or the release of milk from the breasts), and bonding with your baby.
5. Reduce the risk of postpartum depression or symptoms of the “baby blues.” Iron, corticotropin-releasing hormone, and vitamin B6 may play a role in reducing fatigue, increasing energy, and enhancing healing, all of which play a role in postpartum mood disorders.
Want to read more? Check out this study supporting the above points if you’re the science type. Contact me if you’d like to read the full version. Some other great resources:
- Placentophagy: A cultural phenomenon or evidence-based practice?
- Moms: Should You Eat Your Placenta?
- 10 Interesting Facts About Eating Placenta
Stayed tuned for Part II: HOW to eat your placenta. Hint: usually it’s not by taking a bite out of it!