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.
|Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz completed her undergraduate education at Wesleyan University and post-baccalaureate pre-med studies at Mills College. She earned her medical degree from the USC School of Medicine and has been in private practice for 8 1/2 years. She lives in Los Angeles and is the mother of two.|