Is eating the placenta safe? This long-standing debate is something science has been trying to put to rest. But do we finally have our answer?
A new study published in the Birth journal thinks so. According to researchers from University of Nevada Las Vegas and Oregon State University, mums who eat their placenta after birth are not putting their newborns in any sort of danger.
Based on 23,000 birth records, they found no increased risk in illness in newborns whose mums ate their placenta.
Is Eating the Placenta Safe? There Are Benefits, Say Mums
During the nine months of pregnancy, the placenta helps your baby breathe, get nutrients, and excrete waste.
But what are its benefits when consumed by new mums?
After birth, many believe it’s a nutritious organic substance that can help minimise pain, lessen bleeding, improve breast milk supply, promote mother-baby bonding, and even help ease postpartum depression.
The practice is no longer outrageous. It’s been embraced by both women in industrial and developing countries as well as Hollywood celebrities.
Kim Kardashian West said eating her placenta gave her boundless energy, while Television actress January Jones credited placenta consumption as a cure for her postpartum depression. She even recommended the practice to all mums.
Is Eating the Placenta Safe? Others Remain Unconvinced
This latest study comes on the heels of earlier claims that placentophagy (eating your own placenta) causes newborn illness. According to a CDC report, mums should be careful when having their placenta dehydrated and encapsulated. This is because the process can produce harmful bacteria that can lead to infection.
They cited the specific case of a mum in Oregon who, after taking two placenta capsules a day, noted how she passed on a bacterial strep infection to her newborn.
But mums are not just consuming placenta in pill form. Some eat them raw or cook them into lasagna, chilli, tacos, and even smoothies!
Though some mums happily report that eating their placenta improved their energy and mood, more studies are needed to back this claim, says the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing in a past study.
In fact, a survey of 189 women in an Ecology of Food and Nutrition study showed that some experienced headaches, cramping, and “unpleasant belching.” What’s more, a study in the Women and Birth Journal asserts that placenta pills can’t really improve mood, lessen fatigue, or help control postpartum depression.
If you’re a mum-to-be who’s planning on including placenta in your postpartum diet, make sure you are aware of both the risks and benefits. Speak to a trusted doctor about your needs and concerns before attempting this increasingly popular, but still evolving, practice.