For even the most adventurous eaters among us, there may be one item on the menu that raises an eyebrow – the human placenta. Yet, thanks to some press from celebrity moms, more pregnant women are considering adding their afterbirth to their postpartum diets. Here’s what you should know before you sign up to take your placenta home.
The back story
The placenta is an organ that grows inside the uterus during pregnancy. Essentially, it’s your baby’s lifeline – allowing the passage of nutrients from you to your little one. It also acts as a filter, protecting your baby from potentially harmful bacteria. After the baby is delivered, the mother must then deliver the placenta, at which point this bloody organ is traditionally discarded by the hospital staff.
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But now, many women are choosing to request their placentas after they’ve been delivered, believing that they’re still packed with nutrients that could prove beneficial during the postpartum period.
Why do it?
Though there’s been no scientific study to back this up, many women report consuming their placentas either in pill form or as table food. Anecdotally, placenta consumption may boost milk supply, stave off postpartum depression and deliver more energy to a new mother. In the wild, most mammals eat this organ post-birth and scientists believe it may have something to do with bonding to their young.
What’s the harm?
To date, there has been no official study to determine the benefits or weigh the risks of placenta consumption. Many in the medical field regard the practice as achieving nothing more than a placebo effect. Others warn that doing so could pose a health risk. Why? Because the placenta acts as a filter inside the body, it may be contaminated with harmful bacteria. Not to mention that the act of actually retrieving the organ is a messy one, what with all the bodily fluids that often accompany birth.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, it’s worth reiterating that no research has been done in this area. That being said, if consuming the placenta is something you’re interested in, speak to your midwife or doctor. He or she will be able to instruct you on doing so safely – and let you know about your hospital’s policies and guidelines.
So, what’s your take? Would you consider eating your placenta after birth to help your transition into motherhood? Tell us what you think in the comments below.