What is Placentophagia? Should You Really be Eating Your Placenta?
Placentophagia, the practice of consuming your own placenta, has been gaining popularity in recent times as you get to hear many celebrities indulging in this. However, is it simply the latest celebrity fad or are there actually any health benefits to eating your own placenta? Placentophagia is generally practiced during home births as well as during alternative birthing practices. But should you really be eating your placenta, is a common question faced by many women.
It may surprise you to know that there are many mammals who routinely eat their placentas. Humans are actually an exception to this rule. However, there are many supporters of placentophagia. They claim that there are many benefits to eating your own placenta, which include:
- Relieving pain
- Creating a stronger bond with your baby
- Increases energy levels post delivery
- Improving lactation
- Preventing postpartum depression
How Do You Eat Your Placenta?
There are several ways in which women prepare the placenta for consumption. These include:
- Boiling the placenta and having it like meat
- Adding the placenta to a blender with yogurt and having it like a smoothie
- Steaming and dehydrating the placenta to make it into capsules for easy consumption
Apart from this, many women actually eat their placenta raw, immediately following the birth of their child. Many others prefer to cook it like a dish, adding herbs or other spices and ingredients to the placenta. In fact, you can also find some recipes online to make it easy.
What Does Science Say About Placentophagia?
While there are plenty of wild stories all over the internet, ranging from positive to the negative extreme, what does science have to say about placentophagia? This may give you an idea whether you should be really eating your placenta or not.
A survey recently published in the journal Ecology of Food and Nutrition, out of the 189 female participants who were surveyed, 76% of them had a positive experience with eating their own placenta. There were others who reported having negative side effects due to placentophagia.
- Increased uterine contractions
- Unpleasant odor and taste of the placenta and even the placenta capsules
- Increase in vaginal bleeding
- Increased levels of anxiety
- Digestive issues
- Increase in hot flashes
Actually, there is very little scientific research that supports any benefits or the safety of placentophagia. Even the ones that exist are very outdated and are focused on the practice of placentophagia amongst mammals, but not on humans. Nevertheless, a study done in 2016 showed that eating your placenta actually contributes to the onset of group B Streptococcus infection. This is a serious and often, fatal, infection.
Should You be Eating Your Placenta?
So, with all the mixed opinions, should you be really eating your placenta? If you want to try out this practice of placentophagia, then there are certain things you need to keep in mind to ensure that you consume the placenta in a safe manner. Remember that placenta is similar to any other meat that you eat. Hence, it is important to remember that placenta can also spoil easily and also harbor dangerous bacteria if not appropriately stored or processed before eating it. If you are not going to eat it right away, you should freeze it till you are ready to have it. There is no data that shows whether a placenta starts losing its nutritional value and potency if it is kept for a long time, or when it’s boiled or steamed. You should, therefore, consider this when deciding on the preparation method.
While the decision of whether you should eat placenta or not is individual, it may also be worth taking your health into account. For any specific health concerns in relation to eating your placenta, it is best to take medical opinion. Keep in mind that as with any type of meat that you eat for the first time, there might be side effects of consuming placenta. If you start feeling sick or experience any negative side effects, then stop eating placenta immediately and call your doctor or seek medical help at the earliest.
As regards placentophagia, it is still not clear whether you should be really eating your placenta or not. While there are some supporters to this practice, there is also a possibility that placentophagia might increase your risk of getting certain severe infections. Additional research is still needed on this to determine whether placentophagia is safe and eating your placenta has any benefits or if it is just a fad created by celebrities.