Should You Eat Your Placenta?

The short answer is, I wouldn’t. But, if you want to, bon appetit.

If you want to learn a little more about placentophagy (the eating of the placenta after birth) read on.

Some animals do it. They have a baby, then they eat the afterbirth. This led to people thinking there must be some benefit for the mother. Perhaps it will improve healing, ease pain, increase breast milk production, and lessen the risk for postpartum depression. Others think the animals probably do it to destroy the evidence, to keep predators away from helpless newborns.

The desire for more natural pregnancies and births is rising, especially with celebrities and influencers broadcasting their own experiences. As moms, we are always feeling like we should be doing something better, something different for our kids. Am I selfish if the thought of eating something that came out of my body repulses me? If a Kardashian does it, it must right, right? Not for me. Without modern medicine, Madelyn (my firstborn, who is now 18) and I would have certainly died in the complicated labor, that in a hospital, led to the first of my four C-sections. A more “natural” experience may be wonderful for some women, but it doesn’t mean the rest of us should feel guilty about our choices during our pregnancies and births. I side with evidence, rather than with bloggers.

Which brings me to eating the placenta. You can do it, and if you want to, go for it. You can cook it, blend it into a smoothie, or send it out to be dried and made into pills. It nourished your baby for 9 months (though it is more of a conduit from you, than an actual provider of nutrients,) maybe it will nourish you in those tough few weeks after birth. For me, that’s why God made prenatal vitamins and kale. There is no evidence to support any benefit, and all claims are anecdotal. I’m not sure how you would know if you felt better after placentophagy compared to how you would have felt otherwise, but I am a firm believer if something makes you feel good and you aren’t hurting yourself or others, no one should stand in your way. And, maybe someday, scientific studies will support the practice. Some experts do warn of the risk of infection to you or to your baby through your breastmilk if the placenta is not handled properly. There was one case reported in 2016. I think though, that this risk, while real, is small. If it will make you feel better to have eaten the placenta, if you believe it will help you, just talk to your obstetrician first about the best, healthiest way to go about it.


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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Physician, Wellness Coach, and founder of Tips From Town. She is passionate about sharing her medical expertise, her coaching techniques and her parenting experience to encourage happier and healthier lives.

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