UPDATE: Mad Men actress January Jones has revealed she ate her own placenta after the birth of her baby Xander. She told People magazine: ‘I have a great doula who makes sure I’m eating well, with vitamins and teas and with placenta capsulation.’
“It’s something I was very hesitant about, but we’re only the only mammals who don’t ingest out own placentas,” she said. And she suggests all mums try the “natural booster” too…
Here’s a previous article we ran on eating placenta:
After my son was born all I wanted to eat was sushi. Maybe it was because I had been cautioned against eating it while I was pregnant or maybe because it is full of er, mercury and that is what my body craved. I like to think it was just that my taste buds like sushi rice and seaweed.
There were a few other things I was keen to eat – soft cheese, soft boiled eggs, actually anything that I could eat without feeling nauseous was high on my list (I had spent a lot of my pregnancy throwing up.) This could be ONE of the reasons I didn’t give a second’s thought to eating my placenta. Or was it my son’s placenta?
Turns out because he was born 10 weeks early and there were many complications it became the laboratory’s placenta and even though they packed it in the exact same type of container that I usually eat my cashew nut vegetable from, it was not destined for anyone’s plate. Just analysis.
It doesn’t always have to be this way though and more and more placentas are being sent home in take away containers. For consumption. Yes. I did say that. I understand the thought of chewing through a placenta can be quite off putting, especially for those of us who are not fans of eating organs in general but hey, they are making it much, much easier to swallow – there are in fact people who will create an easy to swallow pill using just the placenta and a few handy kitchen tools.
This from The New York Magazine
Mayer—an upbeat, blue-eyed blonde from upstate New York—is a professional placenta-preparer. Her job is to transform placentas into supplements that are said to alleviate postpartum depression, aid in breastmilk production and lactation, act as a uterine tonic, and replenish nutrients lost during pregnancy. Her clients are mostly middle-class, like Hughes and her husband, Doug, who are college-educated, in their thirties, and live on a gentrifying street in Crown Heights. On this dreary April morning, Mayer is driving the afterbirth to their apartment to begin preparing it.
“It’s the freshest placenta I’ve ever worked with!” she says, glancing over at the container as the car lurches through traffic. Mayer speaks about the organ in tones most women reserve for newborns: “perfect,” “beautiful,” “precious.”
Her enthusiasm isn’t unfounded. The placenta feeds the baby until birth, filtering toxins while letting in vitamins, minerals, oxygen, and other nutrients from the mother’s bloodstream. It even helps reduce the risk of transmitting viruses, including HIV, from mother to child.
Mayer, who also works as a massage therapist and doula, first became interested in placentas as a student at the University of Colorado. After reading up on the purported benefits of consuming one’s afterbirth and learning that a client was planning to try it, Mayer decided that she wanted to offer her customers placenta capsules: dried, ground afterbirth packaged into a clear pill no bigger than a regular vitamin supplement.
The technique, called encapsulation, was not widely practiced in Colorado and, until quite recently, was practically unknown on the East Coast. But Mayer found a doula who conducted training sessions with donated placentas, and started her business, Brooklyn Placenta Services, shortly thereafter.
“They’re happy pills,” Mayer says. “They’re made by your body, for your body. Why wouldn’t you want to try?”
Um, I wouldn’t want to try because I am a vegetarian. Does that count? Or maybe the fact that there is no real scientific evidence that the placenta is really that beneficial once it has done its intended job.
Mark Kristal, a behavioral neuroscientist at the University of Buffalo, is the country’s leading (and quite possibly only) authority on placentophagia, the practice of placenta consumption. He has been researching the phenomenon for twenty years, and concludes that it must offer “a fundamental biological advantage” to all mammals. What this advantage is, he writes in one of his papers, “is still a mystery … in fact, a double mystery. We are not sure either of the immediate causes … nor are we sure of the consequences of the behavior.” But placentas have carried a special spiritual significance in some cultures. In ancient Egypt, it had its own hieroglyph, and the Ibo tribe in Nigeria and Ghana treats the placenta like a child’s dead twin. In traditional Chinese medicine, small doses of human placenta are sometimes dried, mixed with herbs, and ingested to alleviate, among other things, impotence and lactation conditions. And in modern medicine, doctors often bank umbilical-cord blood to treat genetic diseases with harvested stem cells.
According to Kristal, the first recorded placentophagia movement in America began in the seventies, when people residing in communes would cook up a placenta stew and share it among themselves. “It’s a New Age phenomenon,” he explains. “Every ten or twenty years people say, ‘We should do this because it’s natural and animals do it.’ But it’s not based on science. It’s a fad.”
It’s a fad I wont be joining in. Even after watching this clip
Would you eat the placenta after you had given birth? Would having it in pill form make it easier to swallow?