What’s the latest controversial - and some say gross - trend in childbirth? Human mothers eating their own placenta - or afterbirth - just like other mammals do!
Like “Mad Men” actress January Jones. She had her baby’s placenta dehydrated, powdered, and put into capsules. She takes one every time she feels tired or blue, and insists the placenta pills are what helped her bounce back so quickly after childbirth, and return to the set of her TV series only 7 weeks after her son was born.
Advocates claim that eating your placenta helps increase breast milk production, boosts immunity, and eases postpartum depression. The practice has become more popular as midwifery and home births continue to rise in North America. All kinds of companies are popping up to turn a mom’s placenta into personalized pills, but the process isn’t regulated, so it’s risky for women to trust others to store, process, and encapsulate their placenta for them.
Some moms even eat the placenta in its natural state. Believe it or not, you can find recipes on the Internet for things like roast placenta, and placenta lasagna.
Our friend Dr. David Katz is the founder of the Yale Prevention Center. He says in some cultures, it’s a time-honored cultural practice to eat the placenta, but there are no scientific studies to confirm or deny the benefits. Obstetrician Dr. Maggie Blott says that animals eat their placenta to get nutrition, because they often can’t leave their offspring to find food. But when people are already well-fed, there’s no benefit.
Beyond that, obstetrics professor Dr. Lauren Streicher says it’s irresponsible and dangerous to claim that eating placenta can cure postpartum depression, a dangerous syndrome that can lead to suicide. So if you do have postpartum depression, see your doctor, and discuss it with them to make sure you’re getting the best treatment.