There has been a lot in the media recently about the placentophagy – otherwise known as the act of eating your placenta after birth, and the associated benefits of doing so which include helping with problems such as postpartum depression and breast-feeding difficulties. But let’s put the Kardashians and aside and talk to an everyday, non-senationalised decision by one mum to eat her placenta – namely, Louise George who blogs over on Little Hearts Big Love, who will be sharing candidly about her decision to eat her placenta in this issue of the “What is it really like….” series.
Why did you decide to eat your placenta and how did you come to the decision?
To be completely honest, my biggest reason for deciding to eat my placenta was curiosity, pure and simple. I used to be an independent midwife before I became a mother, and I’d had a couple of clients who had chosen to eat their placentas and a few others who had done so through placenta encapsulation. There is some anecdotal evidence that eating the placenta can help to prevent postnatal depression, which was also another reason for doing so. My two midwives for my youngest daughter’s birth were two former colleagues from my days as an independent midwife so I knew that they had also had experience of clients who had eaten their placentas and knew how to prepare the placenta for this.
And er…..how did you actually eat it? Could you share what it was like?
I had it raw in a smoothie mixed with bananas, chocolate buttons, honey, blueberries and a little milk. I have to say, it tasted just like a normal smoothie – a little thicker than usual, but I couldn’t taste the placenta itself.
Did you share your intentions and experience openly or were you worried about what people would think?
I was fairly open about it both during my pregnancy and after my daughter was born. I had my husband, my mum and my twin sister at the birth and they all knew that it was something I was planning on doing. I didn’t really talk much about it otherwise, but I would have been happy to discuss it if anyone had asked me. I was a little hesitant about sharing my experience on my blog because I knew that it could attract some very strong negative comments, but I was comfortable enough with my decision and my reasons for doing so to talk about it publicly.
Was there just a tiny bit of you that questioned your decision?
Why do you think people are so squeamish about it?
I think it’s mostly because the placenta is considered to be a waste product. Some people would also consider it to be cannibalism because they see the placenta as being human flesh. I personally don’t view it in this light – it might be something that nourishes the baby during pregnancy but it isn’t really part of either the mother or baby- it’s a separate thing. And even if it is cannibalism, eating it isn’t unsafe and it doesn’t do any harm to anyone else so I can’t see why it should be a problem.
In some cultures placentaphagy is a lot more common, do you think that could ever be the case?
The only way I think it would perhaps become more prevalent in our culture is through placenta encapsulation, which is a more appealing way of consuming the placenta for many women who choose to do so.
What do you think about all the hype about placentaphagy in the media?
It’s something that attracts strong views and opinions which is always good for encouraging people to read news stories and I suspect that’s one of the big reasons for the media sharing stories about it.
What would you say to a mum-to-be who was thinking about eating her placenta?
Go for it – if the placenta is prepared in a safe and hygienic way there is no harm in doing so and there may be potential benefits for improved lactation (if you’re planning on breastfeeding) and reduced risk of post-natal depression. It’s best either eaten raw or encapsulated as cooking is likely to destroy any enzymes or substances within the placenta that might be beneficial.
Anything else you would like to add?
The Independent Placenta Encapsulation Network’s website is a good starting point for information about how to store the placenta, how to make a placenta smoothie or how to arrange for the placenta to be encapsulated. Read more here.
Louise is a mum to two little girls. Her eldest daughter was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and her youngest is heart-healthy. She blogs about parenthood and life as a heart family over at Little Hearts Big love and is passionate about raising awareness of congenital heart defects. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google +.
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