There is a growing trend in eating your own placenta for health benefits – this is called placentophagy. You may have heard of some people eating their own placenta and raving about the benefits. Or you may get squeamish at the thought of eating an organ that your body has made!
In my last instagram post, I mentioned I wanted to eat my own placenta. I received a phone call from my mum: “You are going to eat your what now?!” It seems this was unheard of in the early 80s in Spain.
For humans, this practice is fairly recent. However, animals have been eating their own placenta forever. They eat it raw straight after the birth. It is thought they eat it so they get rid of any smell that will attracts predators – so it is a preservation thing. Also it provides them with nutrients after expending lots of energy.
In humans, the first record of placentophagy are tied to the natural birth and home birth movement in the US during the 60s. However, it is only in the last 10 years that it was become a well-known practice. The recent popularity is mainly due to greater awareness in the media.
How common is eating your own placenta?
A number of doula and midwives advocate this practice. During my years working in the NHS, I rarely came across . However, as an independent midwife, it was very common practice amongst my clients. This can be attributed to number of home births I did, perhaps with women wanting to explore alternative treatments for a healthier lifestyle. However, now it has become more prevalent.
What are the benefits?
It is thought to:
- boost milk production
- fight postpartum depression
- reduce pain in recovery
- increase energy
- increase iron-intake
“I was initially skeptical about taking placenta capsules but nevertheless, intrigued by what I had heard after doing Rebecca’s antenatal course. This was my second pregnancy and I was really surprised at how much better I felt after taking the capsules. I had lots more energy, my post-birth bleeding stopped earlier and I had fewer mood swings. My milk also came in quicker which is something that didn’t happen the first time around. I really recommend taking these capsules!”
— Alice, Kingston
How do I eat it?
You can consume your own placenta (or someone else’s!) in various forms:
- as a smoothie mixed in with fruit, yoghurt and/or milk
- sautéed and fried
- mixed in with ground beef in a lasagne
- dried, ground and encapsulated
- in a tincture
- if you are feeling brave – have it raw (but washed!)
Unfortunately, not much research has been done on the amounts of nutrients in a placenta and if the cooking/dehydrating process degrades the beneficial hormones and nutrients. But there have been no reported negative side effects.
Inspecting your placenta at the birth
After the birth, the midwife will check the placenta and cord for any abnormalities – this forms part of the clinical care of the mother and baby. If there are abnormalities it is recommended your placenta be sent for analysis.
Ask her to show you what she is looking out for. I’ve had plenty of clients ask me to show them their placenta and how it functions and they are all in awe that their body made this organ! It is fascinating (I think)! If the placenta is ok, then feel free to ask to keep it. This is your organ, and therefore you have the right to decide what to do with it. If you prefer to have it disposed of, that’s your choice entirely!
Other things that you can do with your placenta:
- Plant it in the garden with a tree sapling and watch it grow as your child grows
- Turn it into cream and use it on your skin – can help heal skin, reduce scars and stretch marks
- Keep it attached to your baby until it naturally separates over time – known as a lotus birth
- Make artwork – use it to make a placenta print – DIY guide to making placenta prints.
My placenta plan
After the birth I want to inspect my own placenta and take some pictures. Then, after washing it, I will be eating a small piece in a smoothie whilst having baby skin to skin. This piece only needs to be 2-3cm. I will mix it with various berries, banana, coconut milk. Then the rest of the placenta I will have it made into capsules to take on a daily basis to aid in my recovery.
If you are interested in tasting your own placenta but are too squeamish to eat it in its original form, you can have it dried, ground up into powder and encapsulated. I can recommend Tama from Doulas of Kew who offer this service – you need to book and arrange it with advance notice so please book early. When enquiring mention you were recommended by Rebecca from The Yoga Midwife.
This topic will be covered further on Rebecca’s private antenatal course for new expectant parents. For more information on this course – see here Private Birth Preparation. Or get in touch via CONTACT FORM