If Eating a Placenta Grosses You Out, There's a Pill for That

capsuleWhen I was pregnant with each of my two children, I remember being really confused about whether to bank my baby's cord blood or not. Nowadays, it seems women have another decision to make about their baby's placenta, as well: whether or not to eat it.

Apparently there's a booming business to be made in prepping newborn babies' afterbirth for their mothers' consumption. Sure, some women prefer the placenta cooked up and eaten according to gourmet recipes. Others like to have it turned into dried jerky. Still others swear by placenta smoothies. But increasingly, it seems, moms are availing themselves of a growing number of encapsulation services, which steam, slice, dehydrate, and grind the placenta into a powder, and then turn it into capsules for the mom (or dad, or anyone, I guess) to pop. "My customers don’t have to handle it or smell or taste it at all," one midwife who makes placenta capsules boasted to the Daily Mail.

Why would anyone do this, you ask?

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Taking their cue from animals in nature (which often eat the placenta following birth, though it's unclear precisely why), placenta-eating enthusiasts -- those who practice placentophagy -- believe that consuming the afterbirth both enhances breast milk production for the mother and reduces her risk for developing postpartum depression. Many others, however, dispute those claims, contending that there's really no clear, proven health benefit to eating the placenta.

(One commenter responding to a New York magazine article about the phenomenon a few months ago called it "the ultimate locavore dining experience." Ha!)

Personally, I don't mean to judge -- if you want to eat your baby's placenta, go right ahead -- but the whole idea makes me feel pretty ill. (Admittedly, I'm pretty grossed out by organ meat from other animals, too.) I can see that eating the placenta in capsule form would alleviate some of this squeamishness, but not all of it. I suppose there's no harm, but something about it still doesn't sit quite right with me.

Would you ever consider eating your baby's placenta or do you find the concept flat-out nauseating?

 

Image via Brooks Elliott/Flickr

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