Giving Birth? Could Placenta Encapsulation Be for You?


by Ruth McCready August 11, 2016

Who knew giving birth could be a culinary adventure as well?     

 Kim Kardashian’s done it after giving birth. Mayim Bialik’s done it. January Jones has done it too.

I’m talking placenta encapsulation here, and love it or loathe it, it’s on the rise. Ingesting human placentae is nothing new. It’s been a part of Chinese traditional medicine for centuries. Lately in the west, people have also turned to placentophagy for its possible health benefits after giving birth. One of the most popular and headline-grabbing ways to do so is through placenta encapsulation.

 

This trend in afterbirth chomping isn’t the first in recent years. Celebrities have been hitting the headlines for slurping it down smoothies, whipping it up in omelettes and even taking chunks out of it raw. Placenta encapsulation’s a bit different in that should you choose to try it, you won’t be confronted with your actual afterbirth. Instead, the placenta is processed into a capsule form, to be taken like any other supplement or medicine.

 placenta shake

Giving Birth to a Big Bonus

 

So why do it? It seems crazy, but many parents are talking about the enormous benefits of ingesting placenta. See below for some reasons to grab a slice of uterine cake.

 

  • It may help to combat post-natal depression.
  • It is thought to replenish nutrients and vitamins lost during pregnancy and birth.
  • It has been reported to relieve pain during recovery.
  • Some mothers feel it boosts milk production and bonding.
  • It may help to slow down bleeding after giving birth.
  • Animals do it too! In the natural world, the mother not eating the placenta after giving birth is actually pretty rare.

Placenta Problems

Plenty of people find the idea of eating human placenta just plain icky. However, there are other more legitimate concerns to take into account when considering ingesting afterbirth.

  • The process of placenta encapsulation is not government regulated in the US, so not all practitioners have the appropriate training.
  • Encapsulation involves harsh heating processes which will destroy many of the precious nutrients and hormones which produce the theorized benefits.
  • The science surrounding the effects of eating the placenta is not well substantiated.
  • Very little research into the risks of placentophagy exists.
  • Although animals do eat their own placentae after giving birth, they do it to replace energy lost through birth and hide the evidence that a new-born is nearby; not exactly a necessity for most humans with a modern diet.
  • The placenta is basically a filter, so any nasties, toxins and poisons land there instead of going to the baby. Eating this could expose you to a higher concentration of contaminants such as heavy metals, bacteria and viruses.
  • It ain’t free. It can cost several hundred dollars just to arrange for sterile preparation of your placenta. This arguably could be spent on other baby-related purchases, or more importantly, wine.

 

The Placenta: Feast or Famine?

In the end, it’s not clear whether tucking into your placenta is a good or bad idea. While many women- and some men- swear to its healthful properties, there simply isn’t a great deal of evidence either way. It certainly doesn’t seem to be a decision to be made lightly. As always, it pays to weigh up all the options and examine not only the information on offer but the sources too. If you’re going to be giving birth in the near future and you’re curious about potential risks and benefits of placentophagy, consulting a physician might be the best first step.

 

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a medical authority. Any medical questions should be directed to a qualified professional.

 

 




Ruth McCready
Ruth McCready

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