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Placenta Hazardous to Your Health?

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Our OB/GYN gives her verdict.


Last week, we told you about the woman who cooked up her placenta and served it on pasta and in a panini after giving birth. Is this dangerous?

Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz says:

Basically, it is fine to consume the placenta -- and many traditional cultures advocate the use of the placenta for obvious reasons. The placenta is chock full of iron (lots of blood in there) and hormones, too. During pregnancy, many women develop anemia, a low iron and blood cell state, from a combination of the fetus preferentially getting iron and from dilution of red blood cells by increased fluid volume in Mom. Additionally, women experience a fairly sizable blood loss at delivery and this contributes to their need to increase iron in the post-partum period.

Theoretically, there may be a hormonal benefit to consumption of the placenta -- the placenta is full of hormones and, if they are consumed, this could help "balance" women in the post-partum period. But valuing this concept requires respect for understanding of non-western traditional medicine paradigms -- very different conceptually and in practice from conventional Western medicine's constructs. (I am a big believer, by the way, in integrated approaches and respect for modes of thinking and healing that have persisted for thousands of years.) Of course, if this does not resonate with Mom, there is no reason to adopt the practice -- eating your own placenta with a grimace of disgust on your face is no way to start the journey of motherhood!

As long as the mother from whom the placenta is derived was not sick with a serious infection during labor and does not have any transmittable infectious disease such as hepatitis or HIV, it is perfectly safe to eat the placenta or anything made from it. It is intended as a rejuvenative for the post-partum mother. Hospitals or birthing centers usually have guidelines for the release of the placenta to the mother that include the aforementioned safety provisions. and many traditionally trained health practitioners such as doctors of Chinese medicine, can dehydrate it and make capsules out of the placenta -- which may be more palatable for Western chicks or those who don't crave baked ziti and placenta.

What do you think about eating the placenta? Did you eat yours?

next: Drinking Games for Kids!
18 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous April 13, 2009, 4:39 PM

I did it. And no one will ever know. And I recovered really fast (6th baby) and it was my first pregnancy where I had absolutely NO post-partum depression. I dried it out like beef jerky & ground it into powder with a coffee grinder, then put it into capsules. I never once had crying fits or depression, this has been the happiest postpartum experience ever. After 6 kids, I was finally able to enjoy a newborn.

Anonymous April 13, 2009, 4:47 PM

i think its totally disgusting we are not animals there is plenty of others things to eat out there

Lisa B April 13, 2009, 4:57 PM

My midwife discussed it with us, but I opted not to eat it. The birth at home in a tub of water was a big enough leap for me this time. We buried the placenta in our garden though, so it could nourish the soil for our summer veggies.

Jill (the other one) April 13, 2009, 5:10 PM

I’m going to reserve judgment on this one, but I could seriously do without the pictures. I just about threw up.

Pamala April 13, 2009, 5:24 PM

We are not animals? LOL! Sorry people but we are animals.

Anonymous April 13, 2009, 5:37 PM

The pictures are making me nauseous. Ugh.

Angela @ Lost In Splendor April 13, 2009, 6:56 PM

Okay, those pictures are seriously gross. However, we actually ARE animals. We’re mammals and historically yes women have eaten the placenta.

I personally don’t see any problem with it. If I were to do it myself I would probably do as the first commenter. Keep it secret and do it capsule style.

I certainly don’t think women should feel any pressure to do it, but I also don’t think they should be scrutinized for choosing to do so.

Anonymous April 13, 2009, 7:24 PM

this is seriously disgusting!

Lisa  April 13, 2009, 8:34 PM

Really, enough is enough with the shock images… who can focus on the article with these pictures. Take them down, momlogic!

Bec Thomas April 13, 2009, 10:35 PM

You forgot to mention that cooking it kills most of the health benefits you gain by eating it…

Katie | Runawayoctober April 14, 2009, 11:20 AM

I had planned to give my placenta to someone who would dry it, grind it and put it into capsules.

Unfortunately, my son was 5 weeks early again (so was the last one) and although the hospital let me keep the placenta, it was forgotten in all the hullabaloo and sat out for a day. I didn’t want to risk eating it, so it’s in the freezer. When we get moved into a permanent house, I’ll plant it in the garden.

Absolute April 14, 2009, 3:51 PM

I didn’t eat my placenta but I wouldn’t judge someone who did. We are mammals and it is natural for mammals to eat the placenta. I don’t doubt that there are some benefits to it.

Mommy wars have to stop and this is one of the more extreme ones. Who cares if someone wants to eat their placenta? What business is it of ours?

beautyscientist April 14, 2009, 4:40 PM

Nobody has mentioned what it tastes like?

Melanie April 14, 2009, 5:05 PM

I never considered eating my placenta but I did want to keep it. Unfortunetly, my husband wouldn’t let me keep it. He thought it was strange. He was looking at it from a medical proffessionals point of view and saw it as something that should stay at the hospital.

Gail Cooke April 14, 2009, 6:41 PM

Absolute: It becomes our business when they splash it all over the media. When you purposely seek the attention of the masses, it’s no longer a private matter. Expect to be criticized. We are indeed mammals, but we are not animals in the sense that we have a concept of hygiene. At least most of us do. The eating of any part of human flesh is technically cannibalism. At least those of you who feel the need to eat waste byproducts will never suffer in a famine.

Jill (the other one) April 14, 2009, 7:09 PM

For the love of God, MomLogic, take the pictures down! I’m sick of gagging every time I log on to the site.

Anonymous April 27, 2009, 6:49 PM

i dont know how the pics are so gross, how many of you would even know what it was if it didnt say? most of you probably eat fast food like mcdonalds n such which who knows what that is really made out of. but most people dont care b/c they have been brainwashed to think whats right is awful, and to think whats wrong, like murder is entertaining. i think its much more logical to eat it than to sit around being depressed or taking depression pills that our ‘precious’ government made for us. i plan on eating my placenta as long as the hospital gives it to me.

Anonymous May 9, 2009, 3:52 PM

I ate a chunk of mine in a strawberry/banana smoothie this past week, directly after giving birth to my second son. I was very weepy with my first, and have not been this time around.

The rest of the placenta is in the freezer, to bury this summer, but if I start getting signs of PPD-I won’t hesitate to have another smoothie.

And by the way….you couldn’t taste it.

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