Eating your placenta (placentophagy)
Eating the placenta is common in mammals, however, no modern human culture incorporates this practice in its birthing traditions. Yet, consuming your placenta is becoming more popular, with some services assisting a woman’s wish to ingest placental tissue. You can eat your placenta raw, cooked, dehydrated, encapsulated or made into tinctures or smoothies.
The theory behind ingesting your placenta is that hormones in the placenta help the mother avoid postnatal depression. Anecdotal evidence suggests it also helps the uterus to contract directly after birth. As such, it is thought that eating your placenta raw (either as is or in a smoothie) can help to control post-birth blood loss.
Here are some of the reported benefits of taking placenta capsules:
- Help to balance hormones
- Assist with iron levels
- Help the uterus to shrink down
- Reduce post-natal bleeding
- Increase milk production
- Reduce the risk of post-natal depression
- Boost your energy levels
A 2018 review looked at the research behind some of the reported benefits. The study found no high-quality evidence to support this practice, as the nutrients and hormones did not withstand the process in levels that have a physical effect. Further, the Australian Government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration warns of the potential health and legal risks, and recommends women don’t consume their placentas.
To see how one woman dealt with eating her placenta, please click here.
To find a calculation service near you (Australia) please click here.
Dr Janelle McAlpine (PhD)
Farr A, Chervenak FA, McCullough LB, Baergen RN, Grünebaum A. Human placentophagy: a review. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2018 Apr 1;218(4):401-e1.