Why I Did Not Eat My Placenta


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!”

This frozen, curled up placenta looks like a lobster, hence the lemon…

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.

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  1. Hey there! Love this post..I am a Paleo Momma, eating and living Paleo for almost two years now (and changing my life in ways that are beyond the scope of this post!!!! )…aaaaaand…also…..wait for it…a Midwife, and a Placenta Encapsulation Maker Lady. Encapsulating has less to do with making money (although, yes, it is a small business) and more about, at least for me Chinese Medicine. Placenta is an amazing substance, building blood, chi, jing. The iron stores help. The hormonal replacement is pretty interesting as well. But, being a research junkie, I would like to see some clinical effects, not just those reported by my client’s narratives. Nonetheless, placebo can be great medicine for many folks. Just another direction for you to check out!

    • Ah ha, thanks for the insight! I would be interested in learning more about the Chinese medicine link to eating the placenta. Definitely, placebo can go a long way for some people. What is interesting to me about placenta encapsulation is the very small amount that would be ingested as a pill. Obtaining nutrients probably isn’t the main point.

      • According to chinese medicine, men loose their primal essence (jing) every time they ejaculate. women loose it every time they give birth.

        you’re right about the nutrition factor. you probably won’t find loads of iron in one capsule of placenta.

        placenta is an herb in chinese medicine and its medicinal qualities are herb-like. meaning that the full spectrum of placenta influences the body in ways that no synthetic drug ever could. other chinese herbs besides plants are things like rocks, shells, bugs, and even little boy’s pee (full of testosterone– but did they know that 2000 years ago??)

        so placenta, especially your own, restores things like jing, qi (or chi, which is the chinese medicine understanding of energy), and blood.

    • Yeah I’m so glad Beth replied to this!!!! Beth rocks my socks!

  2. Use it to plant something… I had my daughter’s placenta in my freezer for YEARS and finally planted it with a tree… supposed to be great fertilizer! Just don’t let any dogs near the site… our beagle wanted to dig it up and eat it!!! Congrats on the baby!!

  3. no birth story?? (sorry, i’m a junkie.) i’m glad the birth and recovery went so well!

    this is a very interesting post — thank you!

    • The birth story is coming! I’ve just not been in the mood for writing. And I’ve been busy and a little sleepy. :)

      How bout next week?

  4. I’ve often wondered if people who take their placenta for months were actually feeling better because they were eating Real Food (organ meats) when they had not been eating organ meats before.

  5. It isn’t difficult or complicated to prepare your own placenta as a stew, roast, lasagna or spaghetti; or steam it and dehydrate and encapsulate it; or make a tincture. Here are DIY instructions and photos: http://heal-thyself.ning.com/profiles/blogs/placental-encapsulation

    Traditional Chinese Medicine has been using placenta medicinally for thousands of years.


    • Hi Pat,

      In my research of the claim “That for many years of placenta use in Chinese Medicine,” I found mention of placenta being used in several mixtures all in forms that are used topically, not ingested (for instance- burnt ash of placenta used topically in treatment of woman balding) and only one mention “after birth the placenta is eaten” but it didn’t say eaten by the woman who gave birth.

      I would sure appreciate it if you could share any facts you have found that prove placenta eating by the birth mother has been part of Chinese Medicine for years.

      Thanks for your help,


      • I am wondering the same. I would love to read real accounts of any peoples that eat the placenta. I don’t know of any specifics, just a bunch hearsay.

  6. I’ve been hearing from more and more pregnant moms who are interested in learning about the risks and benefits of placenta encapsulation. I decided to do my own investigation of current research to find out if the claims are well-documented or not. In light of what I found, I agree that we can get the same benefits from our diet and also avoid the potential downsides to eating placenta.

    I created an infographic detailing my findings: http://guide.thesoftlanding.com/an-in-depth-look-at-the-safety-of-eating-placenta-infographic/

    • Wow! Thanks for posting. It’s great to see a researched alternative perspective to the trendy practice of placetophagy.

  7. I did encapsulation and I felt great. I felt great when I forgot to take it for a few days and felt even better when I added it back in. I didn’t want to eat it straight up so that’s why I chose encapsulation. For me, it was something I wanted to try for myself and thought, hey, if something can be of benefit to me, why not? I was curious and wanted to see for myself, plus I didn’t want it to go to waste if it was something that could enhance my already healthy diet.

  8. and yeah, totally curious about your birth story too!

  9. I love to hear your account of your postpartum experience! 20% of moms do not get the baby blues and bounce back quickly and smoothly as you did. However, 80% of moms, and that’s ALOT, get every variation from weepy to completely unable to function, baby blues. For those women, placenta encapsulation is a chance for them to experience what you did. It works. Not a placebo. It works. Hundreds and thousands of women have found that it works. Do you want to hear from women who have done it? Direct quotes, click here: http://www.synergybirthservices.com/Pages/contactus.aspx
    The other thing I have to comment on is that your diet and fitness level have absolutely nothing to do with whether you’ll experience baby blues. Count yourself lucky. : )

    • Yes, Gretchen, and 80% of moms eat a SAD diet, take prescription drugs, and don’t exercise.

      Quoting these kind of statistics is nothing but damaging. Women should be empowered to make real changes in their lives so that their bodies stop malfunctioning. Postpartum depression may be common but it is not normal.

  10. I totally take your point about the function being competed; going to have to think about that.
    I was thinking half raw (frozen as pills), half encapsulated in case of a hormone crash that could benefit from a little easing-off. (I sweated through three nightgowns every night for the first two weeks after my first.) The processing is for me about making it more palatable to take and anonymous to have around. Plus, my placenta is a reservoir of a bunch of nutrients I’ve been extra careful to get when pregnant but may not focus on so consistently immediately afterwards. Like the ultimate know-your-farmer source. Maybe this is just a long-winded upvote for Karen’s comment about liver, or Laura’s about not wasting a valuable resource.
    What I can confirm is that partner support, a reasonable amount of confidence, and a massive amount of rest are sufficient to avoid PPD in high-risk cases. We slept, we got to know each other, we slept some more. No one visited and I had no expectations other than self- and childcare. I was fine (except for that hormone crash). I won’t have the luxury of total baby focus this, second, time, so supports – be they crutches or placebos – are enticing.

  11. I’m on the fence about practicing placentophagy. I did originally want to encapsulate, and maybe I still will, or do the frozen raw ‘pills’ in the same way you (and now I) eat raw liver. My diet has suffered in the first trimester due to sickness, and I do wonder what effect that will have on me and baby later. This is my first, so I’m just taking in as much info as I can and hopefully by the time baby is here (first week of March) I will have come to a decision I feel good about.

    I really can’t wait for your book to be released! I’m so excited that I’ll be able to read it before I give birth!

  12. Great article! I also found this infographic to be helpful in seeing the facts not just testimonials surrounding this practice.

  13. Loved this post :)

    Personally, I would never eat my placenta. It’s a human organ that you could say has died from old age. An old piece of human meat for breakfast? Uh, nooooo thanks.

    Despite my initial reaction, I have to admit to being quite curious as to why some women would eat their placentas, so I went on a research journey to see what I could come up with. I found a whole lotta nothin’ when it came to research and documentation on the both the benefits and risks of placenta eating. I couldn’t even find documentation on the Chinese tradition of women eating their own placentas that everyone refers to. Then I came across that same infographic a couple of the other women mentioned here, and it made perfect sense. My conclusion was that placenta eating isn’t actually safe at all and isn’t any more useful than other remedies that are way safer and far less disgusting.

    My opinion: Skip the placenta eating ladies. There are better methods to beating the challenges of postpartum life.


  14. I have not had a live human baby in this life, but am fascinated by your sense about not eating the placenta two weeks after.

    Years ago, I did watch my milking goat eat the placenta immediately after she gave birth. Leah ate the placenta first and then sucked in and chewed that umbilicus like it was a fat strand of spaghetti. She did it without hesitation and without expression, although with strong intent.

    I am happy that you have had a strong recovery post partum!

  15. Good point about the hormones. I think when I have another baby I will plan to just eat it right away (well, a little of it, if i can stand it). I’m curious now about the hormones! I’m gonna have to research that now. I wonder if it really has advantage over other organ meats.

  16. In Chinese medicine placenta is not just for postpartum women. Placenta is used as an herb for anyone who needs it. This means men, women, and children. In which case, pork or deer placenta is often used.

    As with any herb in Chinese medicine, it’s about what is deemed suitable. Even after pregnancy and delivery, some women simply do not need to eat their own placenta. And some women benefit from the medicinal value of placenta.

    If anyone decides to use their placenta postpartum or save it for later, it is best to work with an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine herbalist who understands the therapeutic range and application of herbs like placenta.

    • I would love to get my hands on some literature about this. Indeed, people supplement with all sorts of organs. I’d also love to see some documented observations of animals in the wild eating their own placentas. Which animals are doing it? Do they do it without fail or not? Certain times of the year? Depending on food supply? You know, that would be interesting info.

      Do you know what placenta is supplemented for in Chinese medicine for whomever needs it? To balance hormones or what?

      • Chinese medicine is a whole system that is outside regular medical lingo (you know, like hormones, immune system, etc). You could even say that the medicine encompasses what these terms mean, since much of what was practiced a couple thousand years ago is now being proven by Western medicine.

        So Chinese medicine uses terms like yin and yang, qi and blood. These are the nuts and bolts of the medical language and philosophy. They describe what is going on in any one individual at any one given time.

        How can 4 words nail a condition and treat it effectively? The medicine is very poetic and because of this, flexible. People and their state of health are described as you would talk about the landscape (such as hot, cold, dry, damp). And treatment is based on description. And somehow, maybe it’s the looseness of 4 words, it works. Really well.

        That said, in China acupuncture is done right along side Western medical therapies in hospitals. So while the medicine does not specifically address things like hormones, we have a pretty good idea about what hormones mean in the Chinese medicine framework.

        You would use placenta in times of extreme fatigue and exhaustion. When your resources have been tapped. Applies to both men and women.

        You wouldn’t use placenta alone (without other supportive herbs) when there are signs of what’s called ‘yin fire.’ In Western medicine an example of this would be hyperthyroidism (verses hypo). Although there’s no hard and fast correlation.

  17. For some reason, it repulses me. I don’t balk at eating much of anything. I take my raw lambs liver, kidneys, I love raw deer heart, and raw steaks. I’d try tripe if someone else prepared it for me, and would eat about any kind of meat. BUT, is it cultural conditioning that sets my thinking, or is it just not a natural practice for humans? Who can say, I don’t know. I just can’t get past eating human flesh. It’s weird (to me ;D ). What do you guys think?

    • Yeah, there is something weird about that for me too. I suppose the reason could be either. Maybe you’ve got a natural instinct against it, maybe we’re just trained to think that kind of stuff is gross. How can we know?

  18. This is a little off topic, but speaking of “trendy” practices, I think the hypnobirthing you engaged in to prepare for birth is just as much of a trend. I think hypnobirthing is another way to make money off women who are afraid of childbirth – and there are plenty of women in our culture who have fears surrounding the pain of childbirth.

    Personally, my natural home birth became most enjoyable when I accepted and embraced the pain, knowing you can’t have the pleasure without the pain.

    I really don’t believe that women in primitive cultures experience no pain during childbirth- I think they embrace and accept that childbirth can be painful and with that acceptance comes the ability to focus not on the pain, and not on escaping the pain, but embracing the pain with the goal of birthing the baby at the forefront of their mind. In a sense, pain is inherent to birth, and is accepted in birth, and so it is a non-issue in primitive cultures, in my opinion.

    Just like you think placenta consumption is silly, I think it is silly to think one can “hypnotize” herself into a pain-free birth. The testimonials from both women who have had a pain-free hypnobirth as well as those testimonials from women who claim placenta encapsulation helped in their postpartum recovery are subjective. It is up to each individual woman to decide whether something worked for her or not and whether it is of value.

    I think it is interesting that you are so quick to “primalize” everything, and dismiss anything that doesn’t fit into your “primal” framework when you yourself did the opposite of what you claim women do NOT need in order to give birth – which is some kind of training, be it mental or physical. I don’t think any cavewoman went to a hypnotherapist to prepare for birth any more than I think a cavewoman would encapsulate her placenta!

    Sorry for the long-winded off-topic post…I guess I got a little defensive and plus I can’t keep my mouth shut when I witness hypocrisy.

    • Laura, you are very quick to think you’ve got me nailed. I guess 100 blog posts just about sums me up huh? Ha, were we so simple!

      I am pretty sure cave women didn’t have c-sections, didn’t have doctors, sterile hospitals, petrified husbands (my ex), judgmental family and friends, chronic high stress, and a hundred ailments to recover from. Finding a way to severe the ties to all that becomes an important part of preparation for a natural childbirth. Whether it’s through hypnosis, meditation, relaxation practice, psychotherapy, or whatever, moving beyond our modern problems is be necessary for a successful natural childbirth.

      A friend of mine who is a hypnotherapist gave me the hypnotherapy session as a gift and it turns out that it helped me to begin to let go of some of the tension surrounding my first birth experience. That was nice of her and, while I was skeptical, I kept an open mind and found some value in it.

      I am not a cave woman. I am a woman who has had a pretty fucked up modern life. I am positive that cave women did not have so much to overcome.

      I wonder if you even read this post. If I am not mistaken I did not say that placenta encapsulation is silly. I said that it doesn’t make much sense to me to consume the placenta weeks or months after the birth of the baby. It doesn’t make much sense to me. I don’t see other animals doing it so I feel the need to question it because I think it might possibly be harmful. Maybe it’s not. Maybe, like hypnosis, it could help compensate for the many things that are different about us and Primal women. But I don’t know. So I didn’t eat my placenta.

  19. I think Laura, that it’s more like “un-training.” You know there is so much stigma around birth, that fear and stress are there long long before the first contraction begins. Those lucky little “cave women” as you called them had no such training. Many of us require the help of others to help us overcome our past training. I don’t see how it is hypocritical, I mean Peggy never claimed to be a cave-woman. She does very modern things, such as wearing high heals and going out some weekends to shake her booty at a club and… hypnobirthing. I believe her family even has – electricity in their home.

    I re-read the post and all of the comments. I’m sorry, but where in all that did Peggy say she thought it was silly? I can’t see it, did I miss it, or was that just your interpretation of her post. Peggy seemed genuinely interested in others relating their experience – just like she related hers. In this post.

    You say to each their own and then criticize Peggy for not fitting into the box you put her in. I mean don’t we ALL pick and choose what’s right for us and our family? It’s unfair to say Peggy dismisses things that don’t work for her like it’s a bad thing. I think that’s silly. But that’s just my… bias opinion. What would you rather Peggy had said or did? What should Peggy change about herself in order to accommodate you. Perhaps you’d like to right her posts and tell her what her opinion is?

    I’m sorry for the long-winded off-topic reply… I guess I too became a little defensive, and plus – I think it must run in the family, but I can’t seem to keep MY mouth shut when I witness …..Fill in the blank.

  20. When you ask if ancient man did this the answer is yes. Traditional Chinese Medicine has been preparing placenta for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. ALL mamals with the exception of Kangroo’s and aquatics eat their placenta. I have heard over and over again how incredible women feel after ingesting their placenta.

    It’s good to hear that you had an amazing postpartum recovery! hat’s amazing and way to go!

    Postpartum depression can not always be cured by diet and excersice. It is very real caused by a chemical inbalance in the brain. When you make statements like you have made it makes women who suffer from this feel less than or that they are doing something wrong. Please be aware of this.

    Again, I am happy that your postpartum recovery was so wonderful!

  21. Congrats on the birth!!!!

    And I did not eat my placenta but I did bury it in my yard and planted an apple tree on top of it, the tree is doing really well (this was five years ago:-))!

  22. I’m with you. I had some raw immediately following my birth (as a smoothie with raspberries to disguise the color), got the rest encapsulated (service provided by my doula), then didn’t take the capsules. Even though my recovery was relatively rough, I just didn’t feel the need. It took three days to get the encapsulation done, and by that point it just didn’t seem appealing anymore.

  23. I was already taking porcine thyroid and bovine adrenal glandulars to level out my hormones, which they did for years, but postpartum, the next two days, my usual doses weren’t enough, and I didn’t want to increase them while breastfeeding such a young baby, potentially messing with her hormones. So, I continued to take my physiological dose of thyroid and adrenal glandulars, and added a little chunk of raw placenta every few hours, swallowed whole after being held under my tongue for a while. This brought me back to level again, and after those two days, I didn’t need or want any more.

    Now, I don’t even need the glandulars because it turns out that for all of those years, I was inadvertently low-carbing my body into constant distress, and made it worse by living in the far north. Now I eat more carbs (110g/day is a challenge, but I’m doing it), and my thyroid and adrenal symptoms have almost disappeared.

    I was making up for stressed glands with my placenta. I’m glad I knew about it, because otherwise, I would have chosen to crash hormonally, over risking taking too much thyroid and adrenal for my new baby.

  24. I never heard of these before. Like Peggy, I am still curious about the “taste” and experiences after consuming it. BTW Congrats on your birth

  25. I did encapsulation with my last delivery, because I had heard so much good about it from a friend. I was so glad I did because I ended up having a huge hemmorage afterward and lost a lot of blood, with no transfusion. Took me a couple months to recover and it made sense to me that the placenta would help in a situation like that.

  26. I have just stumbled across your blog and am finding it really interesting. I’ve been vegetarian for 15 years – don’t hate me ;) I know I probably don’t fit in here but I do find the primal/paleo ideas fascinating and I feed my son lots of organic grass fed beef and bone broth etc… anyhoo, what am I doing here? I ate my placenta! Hubs lightly stir fried some with some veg as I just couldnt stomach the idea of raw which I ate just over 24 hours after my homebirth (we had to go in to hosp after as I haemorraged – but he was 9lb5oz and 58cm long so no surprises there) my midwives also chopped it up and froze it in little ‘tablets’ in icecube trays that I then swallowed raw but frozen a few times a day for a few weeks and just randomly I stopped and I assume that was my body telling me I didn’t need it. My umbilical cord is still in the freezer :) pregnant with my second now, I plan to, after my homebirth WITHOUT hospital transfer ;), consume some raw in a smoothie and then raw frozen tablets again for a while. I’ve no idea if it helped or not – I had terrible baby blues and perhaps a tad of PPD for a few months (but then I did experience a lot of trauma at the hospital after. AND was mistreated which they then apologised for after. Which was a bit late really) but was never diagnosed or treated and by the time he was 6 months I was totally ‘back to normal’… so who knows? As a vego with low iron I feel it’s important for me despite the fact I’m obviously repulsed by it! Lastly, I used hypnobirthing very successfully in my homebirth and was horrified to read the comment above. I don’t consider it money making at all but an amazing way to prepare your subconcious for birth, stay calm and ‘lose time’ during birth, 2 hours went by and I thought it was 5 minutes several times over my 28 hour labour. It was worth every penny and I encourage all Mums to investigate it :) x

    • Haha! I don’t hate you. In fact, you sound pretty cool. :) Thanks for sharing your meat eating experience!

  27. I ate my placenta after my second birth. It was quickly stir-fried with some onion and garlic. I must say that I actually enjoyed eating it. Felt like my body craved it. It was about 48 hours after birth, and I had it for dinner. The next morning, my milk came in full force, and a felt a fresh burst of energy. And for the next week or so, my skin felt incredible. A blood test a week later also showed a major jump in the iron levels. The texture of it was not repulsive to me – it is the texture of organ meat – like the lung of an animal. I understand that it may not appeal to some, and so it is probably a good indication that your body doesn’t need it. But for me, I was glad for that meal (tasty!) and I think it was one of the factors that made for an easier recovery than my first birth.

  28. I ate my placenta! I had an Ayurvedic doula prepare it for me the day after my home birth. I didn’t do this with my first two daughters, but did a lot of reading on it while pregnant this time and discussed it with my midwives as well. I decided it sounded helpful, so I gave it a shot. I still have some left. My boy is 7 weeks old now and I only take the pills these days if I’m having a low energy day. I have leftover powder that I’ll make into a tincture for menopause later too. My doula used ginger and myrrh to steam my placenta with and then dehydrated it and ground it up with a magic bullet and made capsules! I would say that for me, the pills have been amazing! My bleeding only lasted 4 weeks and 2 of those were very light. My milk came in on day 2 and I feel really good emotionally. I would recommend it highly, but I also understand why some women are grossed out by it. Whatever feels right, I say :)

  29. I did encapsulation. I had pretty bad ppd with my first so I was willing to try anything. Well mine made me extremely ill like my intestines were about to fall out. It was horrible and I ended up throwing them away anyway. So even if you want to… its not right for everyone.

    • That sounds scary!

    • My husband and I are planning a homebirth, and while I’m not a paleo eater, we do eat organic and I’m looking into it for my postpartum recovery (I always like the “fringe” health stuff, always worth a look). Been thinking about the placenta encapsulation or eating it raw, and it’s a very interesting debate. I too, can’t see a benefit to encapsulation, unless you sever the baby from the placenta ASAP before all the blood and nutrients have left the organ. I think that’s the only way it would have much of a nutritional value. Honestly, I feel like the placenta belongs to the baby, and it needs everything the placenta can provide. If you’re eating a lot of good healthy protein, then I think you’d be fine (as a recovering mom), but the baby runs a risk of being anemic if you deprive it of all of its cord and placental blood, which in my understanding, is what happens if you do encapsulation. Eating it raw after the blood has left the building, well, that makes a little more sense. Animals do it, but then again, I don’t know if I could bring myself to put something that came from my own body in my mouth, even if the benefits were 100% proven. Also, I believe that many animals who eat their own placentas do so out of a desire to eliminate all evidence of a birth, to discourage predators from snooping around and preying on the new little one. All that said though, if somebody finds that it helps them, then awesome! I think Mae is right though, you just have to know what is right for you own body, and listen when it yells at you to stop or change! Great post and blog BTW, I’m really enjoying all of your information.

      • Im a paleo girl just had a baby at the end of Dec. at home and got my placenta made into caps. I have recovered from birth just fine no depression. I have eaten a few pills and have not seen a difference. I don’t really want to eat any more unless I feel depressed or crappy. I totally agree that diet and exercise before & during the pregnancy really makes a difference on how you feel postpartum. Also I think having a supportive partner helps with the way you feel too. So final answer not sure I’m totally impressed with my placenta pills.

  30. Peggy, I know this post is nearly a year old, but if you’ll excuse me, I’ll think out loud all over this.

    I find it interesting that you were repulsed by the placenta at two-weeks post-partum. If you were a white-bread-American-eater I would just roll my eyes at this. But since you eat raw meat and organs on a regular basis (total props to you), I take your reaction seriously. When mammals eat the placenta it is usually within 15 minutes after birth. When the placenta is encapsulated you can bypass any negative physiological reaction and “trick” the body into consuming it weeks or months later. I’m not sure this is good.

    Also, as an aside, mammals don’t always eat their placenta. I once spend time on a goat-breeding farm during kidding season, and the farmers always made sure to offer the placenta to the ewe and encourage her to eat it, but sometimes she did not. The farmers told me that it was a total toss up as to whether or not the ewe would choose to eat it. Why would an ewe eat it one time, and then the next time give it a sniff and then give it a pass? It makes me think that among mammals for whom placentophagy is normal it isn’t considered totally necessary. Which makes me cautious about the whole “humans are the only mammals who don’t do it” line.

    I am terribly curious to know more about what anthropologists studying primitive societies have found out about human placentophagy. Maybe anthropologists of old just never paid attention to the details of birthing practices (totally possible) but it seems strange to me that there isn’t a lot of evidence for this. Yes, the chinese method is old, but I am not convinced that the purpose of the dried and powdered placenta was for immediately post-partum mothers. Rather, it seems more likely to me that it was used as a tool for hormone-replacement therapy and as a skin salve. Someone correct me if I’m wrong about that.

    I am interested in this because I had very heavy lochia with my first pregnancy (over 8 weeks straight), struggled with breastfeeding (stopped after 4 weeks), and struggled with depression. But then I was healthy-SAD, I have been eating mostly WAPF/Primal for a year now. I am sensitive to my own hormones, one thing I’ve noticed with switching diets is that soy does a nasty number to my health and emotional state. I am hoping that with my new diet those nasty problems with pregnancy 1 will be reduced (due in September). But all of the pro-placenta testimonials make it sound like placenta would be a “magic pill” to take care of all of that. But is it actually necessary or safe or even “primal”?

    The hormone aspect of placentophagia interests and worries me. Should we be consuming pregnancy-level hormones when we are not pregnant? Like I said, I am sensitive to my own hormones. On the one hand, maybe the placentophagia eases the sharp drop in hormones, sort of like weaning off of a drug. On the other hand, maybe with a proper diet (that doesn’t contain phytoestrogens like soy) the body is able to handle the drop on its own.

    I am very hesitant about the steam/dry/herbed/powdered Chinese method. It seems like a lot of processing for something that contains so many delicate compounds. I have done the 2-week frozen raw liver “pills” but I don’t want to wait 2 weeks for consumption of the placenta if I do eat it. I have researched consuming it raw freshly-frozen (either as pills or in smoothies), but this post http://www.mindthesciencegap.org/2013/03/23/placenta-smoothies-anyone-a-look-at-the-practice-and-effects-of-placentophagia/, especially the comment by Muna that the placenta holds PCB, BPA, and etc. makes me cautious. I’m not conscientious about choosing toxin-free baby items just to consume them and put them right into my breastmilk. Of course, I try to avoid BPAs and so on myself, but I regularly touch store receipts, so I’m pretty sure I’m not free of them. Muna gives no citation for his claim, however, so it’s possible that his information is pure hearsay. Does anyone have a link for a study of the full chemical composition of human placenta?

    Anyways, thank you so much for posting your experience, Peggy. It’s really nice to read a variety of responses about this, more than just the “eewww, gross!” negatives.

    • Just to add on:

      I did find one study that measured the amount of BPA in the placenta: Parent Bisphenol A Accumulation in the Human Maternal–Fetal–Placental Unit. Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1241091/pdf/ehp0110-a00703.pdf.

      From the abstract:
      “Concentrations of BPA ranged from 0.3 to 18.9 ng/mL (median = 3.1 ng/mL) in maternal plasma, from 0.2 to 9.2 ng/mL (median = 2.3 ng/mL) in fetal plasma, and from 1.0 to 104.9 ng/g (median = 12.7 ng/g) in placental tissue”

      So the highest concentrations of BPA are in the placenta, which suggests (to me) that the placenta does act to filter out toxins. At least, it tries to, I suppose one could guess that the mothers with the lowest amount of BPA had the lowest amount of BPA in the placenta and the fetus.

      Does the food I eat on a regular basis have, on average, more than 12.7 ng/g of BPA? According to Survey of Bisphenol A in Canned Food Products from Canadian Markets (link: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/pubs/securit/bpa_survey-enquete-can-con-eng.php) only if I eat Campbell’s condensed soup and the like, which I don’t.

      What is the BPA level of raw-frozen quality calf liver or chicken hearts? I’m not sure, but I’m leaning towards having a stash of those in my freezer for post-partum (that’d be a lot cheaper, too).

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