Placentophagy is the word used for when mothers eat their own placentas. In 2007, a woman had to actually fight a hospital in court for the right to retain her own placenta which she intended to dry, grind up, encapsulate and ingest it. These days, “Will you be saving your placenta?” is just about as common of a question as, “Will you be cloth diapering?” on many mothering forums online.
I know it seems gross. It did to me at first too. While I never ate my placenta, maybe I should have. I suffered from pretty bad postpartum depression with each of my deliveries. Women claim that eating their own placentas dramatically helps even out post-birth hormones. The placenta contains estrogen and progesterone naturally, so it does stand up to reason. Unfortunately there is very little research on the matter of women eating their placentas.
We often see it in nature. Though, I always assumed it was just wildlife’s way of eliminating all traces of an easy target to protect their infants from predators. It seems that there may be much more to it though. As more women reach out to midwives, thanks to the Canadian study that showed midwife attended home births are statistically safer than hospital births, placentophagy is becoming more common place. Despite a lack of scientific research, the anecdotal evidence and positive additional expressed by new mothers who have chosen to eat their own placentas seem to substantiate the idea that it offers a lot of benefits.
Women counter the ick factor by pointing out that most Americans eat meat from random animals they’ve never seen, handled by a meat industry that is deplorable, and no one thinks anything of it. There is nothing inherently dangerous about eating your own placenta, so, why all the opposition?
Remember, your birth is your birth. Do it your way. And keep in mind, if you’re nervous about what people will think, there’s no reason you have to tell everyone anyway. If you want to see if encapsulating or eating your own placenta might help with your postpartum weeks, check out www.placentabenefits.info. You can buy your own kit on that website as well!