Have you ever considered what happens to the placenta after childbirth? Do you know that many women around the world eat their placenta after pregnancy?
Yes, we agree.
Although it may sound too gross to consider, it would interest you to know that eating the placenta after childbirth is more common than you think.
In this article, we’d consider the concept of placentophagy (eating placenta); why it is done, the supposed advantages, and 7 reasons why you shouldn’t eat your placenta.
Let’s get into it!
Table of contents
- What Exactly Is Placentophagy?
- Why Do People Eat Their Placentas?
- Why You Shouldn’t Eat Your Placenta
- 1. There’s No Scientific Evidence of The Benefits
- 2. There are no Standards for Processing the Placenta
- 3. It Exposes You To Many Infections
- 4. Eating Your Placenta May Increase The Risk of Postpartum Blood Clots
- 5. It Does Not Cure Postpartum Depression
- 6. Eating Your Placenta Can Cause Constipation
- 7. The Other Drawbacks of Eating Placenta Include:
What Exactly Is Placentophagy?
In plain terms, this refers to the act of eating a placenta after childbirth. Interestingly, this practice is deeply rooted in culture as history shows that the Chinese have been practicing it for hundreds of years. Furthermore, animals like cows and dogs eat their placentas as soon as they deliver their younglings.
In fact, this trend has gained popularity in recent times, and many moms across the globe have done this in a bid to enjoy one of the supposed benefits of placenta eating.
Why Do People Eat Their Placentas?
The answer is simple: to enjoy the perceived benefits to mothers.
In theory, this plan may seem to be fool-proof; after all, the placenta serves many protective and nutritive functions during pregnancy. However, in this case, the risks far outweigh these potential benefits.
Some people believe that eating the placenta after childbirth can do any or all of the following:
- Increase breastmilk supply
- Prevent anemia
- Regulate hormone production
- Reduce the risk of postpartum depression
However, believers of placentophagy clearly state that the act is only beneficial when you eat your own placenta.
Although some women give positive reports after eating their placentas at the end of pregnancy, it is important to note that their experiences are not sufficient to draw acceptable conclusions about the practice.
To help you make the right decision about eating your placenta after delivery, we’ve compiled the following facts:
Why You Shouldn’t Eat Your Placenta
1. There’s No Scientific Evidence of The Benefits
It’s simple, really.
There’s no science to back the supposed benefits of eating the placenta. Although some people think this act would help them reduce the risk of postpartum depression, there’s no research to back this up. Most women who eat their placentas simply do so because they know someone who did.
Furthermore, some moms eat their placenta in the hope that it would boost milk and hormone production after pregnancy. Again, this fact isn’t backed up by science. Although the placenta has hormone-producing functions during pregnancy, there’s no data to prove that these functions continue after childbirth (or as a result of its eventual consumption).
2. There are no Standards for Processing the Placenta
Usually, food should be stored, prepared, and processed according to evidence-based guidelines from a regulatory body. This is done to ensure that it is safe and healthy for consumption.
However, this isn’t the case with your placenta. Although the placenta is usually prepped for consumption before eating, there are no standard or professional processes approved by the Centre for Disease Control.
In the process of placenta encapsulation, the placenta is dried, powdered, and packaged into small capsules. Nevertheless, this method is not fool-proof as a ‘processed placenta’ may still expose you to certain bacterial or viral infections.
3. It Exposes You To Many Infections
As we mentioned earlier, eating your placenta after pregnancy exposes you to many potentially harmful infections. In fact, the process of placenta encapsulation does not protect you from ingesting certain harmful bacteria like the Group B Streptococcus.
This can pose serious health risks for both you and your baby.
4. Eating Your Placenta May Increase The Risk of Postpartum Blood Clots
Postpartum hemorrhage is a serious concern after childbirth. Unsurprisingly, eating your placenta after pregnancy can increase the possibility of postpartum hemorrhage and also increase the risk of blood clots in this period.
5. It Does Not Cure Postpartum Depression
If you’re thinking about eating your placenta to cure postpartum depression, you’re at the wrong spot, as there is no evidence that it can do that.
In fact, if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms after childbirth, please consult your doctor as soon as possible:
- Serious mood swings
- Sustained loss of appetite
- Consistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Difficulty in bonding with your little one.
6. Eating Your Placenta Can Cause Constipation
As it is with every other weird meal, eating your placenta can also affect your digestive system. Also, some women in America and Asia have reported cases of reduced digestion and/or constipation after eating their placenta.
7. The Other Drawbacks of Eating Placenta Include:
- Increased anxiety and stress levels after childbirth
- Unpleasant taste and odor which can cause stomach discomfort
- Persistent uterine contractions
- Increased vaginal bleeding
Finally, it is important to remember that the potential benefits of eating your placenta are not scientifically proven. In fact, there’s no scientific data to back any of these claims.
Eating your placenta may place you at risk for many serious infections. Therefore, it is really important to speak with your healthcare provider when deciding what to do with your placenta after childbirth.
We are always here to help you.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Routine Tests During Pregnancy, 2020.
- American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Human Placentophagy: A Review, April 2018.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), June 2017.
- National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, Nutrients and Hormones in Heat-Dried Human Placenta, June 2000.