I’m a wild one. There’s not much I wouldn’t do or haven’t already done. So, naturally, I was gung ho about eating my placenta. The claimed benefits are many and extremely beneficial to a new mother.
Eating the placenta is supposed to:
- Prevent postpartum depression
- Return the uterus to pre-pregnancy size faster
- Increase milk supply
- Replenish iron levels
- Reduce postnatal bleeding
But after giving birth and having an enormous milk supply, plenty of energy, an amazingly great mood, not a hint of the baby blues, very light bleeding, and a uterus that all but disappeared after a few short days I didn’t feel terribly compelled to open the container. So, in my freezer it sat and waited for me to care.
Today, two weeks later, I opened the box and thought, “Pregnancy! I don’t want to have anything to do with that!”
As the days have passed and my hormones have balanced out to that of a postpartum woman, and not a pregnant one, I felt literally repulsed by it. It’s not a part of me any more, I even wonder if it might, in fact, do me harm at this point to ingest a pregnant woman’s hormone producing machine.
Eating some of the placenta immediately after birth for a quick boost of iron and other nutrients seems a pretty sound idea to me. Many mammals do this. It’s like a built in mode of healing. But weeks or months later? Could this still be healing?
This is the same question I have had about placenta encapsulation. Continuing to supplement with the placenta well after the date of delivery isn’t the same as immediately gobbling it up raw as other animals do.
Why supplement continuously with an organ that fulfilled its function and then quietly and quickly abandoned its post?
My guess? Somebody’s making money on it. I see it as a gimmick. Eat the placenta, fine. Encapsulate it and take it as a supplement? Come on! Did ancient man or any other animal in the animal kingdom ever do that?
A Healthy Diet Serves the Same Purpose
Placenta eating is an interesting and, quite possibly, useful practice but I’m not so sure how necessary it really is.
A highly nutrient-dense diet and a fit body will usually fend off most of the ills that placenta consumption supposedly prevents.
Postpartum depression can be avoided through diet, exercise, and a healthy support network (I write about this extensively in my book). Ample milk supply and rapid healing don’t usually escape a very healthy woman either.
By “healthy woman” I don’t mean one who eats cereal, boxed and frozen dinners, pastas, breads, PUFAs, feedlot meat and milk, etc.. Real health demands real food. Anything else is sub par. Energy levels are lower, healing is slower, depression and anxiety are common.
It is my belief that under most circumstances, given the right nutrients and the absence of harmful substances any women can experience all the touted benefits of placentophagy without ever touching the placenta.