General Question

Bellatrix's avatar

Do you believe eating the placenta after giving birth is a beneficial practice for new mothers?

Asked by Bellatrix (21133 points ) March 27th, 2012

January Jones (Mad Men actress) recently gave birth and chose to have the placenta encapsulated. Ingesting the placenta (placentophagy) is said to provide the new mother with energy, nutrients and helping to prevent the ‘baby blues’.

If you (or your partner) have given birth did you/they eat the placenta or if you are a woman who hasn’t given birth, could you see yourself doing this? What are your thoughts on this practice?

I don’t have a problem with it although I am not sure I could do it myself.

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49 Answers

wilma's avatar

Beneficial? I don’t know about that. It doesn’t seem very sanitary and certainly not very appetizing.
I’ve given birth 4 times. I saw those placentas and NO I would never eat mine. If someone else wants to eat theirs it’s fine with me. It’s not my place to tell anyone else what to do.
I have a plentiful nutritious food supply available to me, I don’t need to eat my placenta.
Perhaps this is one of those things that separates us from other mammals?

bkcunningham's avatar

Ick. I’ve never heard of a woman eating her placenta after giving birth. Did the actress do it for a script on the television show, or is this something she did in real life?

Bellatrix's avatar

No. Some women do it in real life. I remember hearing a medical professional suggesting it was something women should consider.

Blackberry's avatar

If it’s actually beneficial, why not? If it’s just BS, it seems unneeded.

rebbel's avatar

I love the top one of the related questions, on the right.
Apparently it is supposed to be beneficial to consume the placenta.
Indeed as a ways to prevent the ‘blues’.
I remember about a year ago there was a thread on the same subject here on Fluther with some documented/argumented responses.
A (Fluther) search on placenta will most probably lead you to it.

cazzie's avatar

BLAHK! same reason I dont eat my scabs or shit. The placenta also works as a filtering system….. like liver. I can not believe that this a ‘thing’. Shit… people are crazy.

ragingloli's avatar

Do I look like Tom Cruise?

SuperMouse's avatar

I have no idea whether it is beneficial, but there is absolutely no way I could eat placenta.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Just like eating the brains of deceased loved ones. Great way to pass on diseases.

Ron_C's avatar

Probably, if you’re a cat. Otherwise it is just stupid.

tedd's avatar

I mean, it is definitely full of healthy stuff, and I could see how it would be beneficial to you…. But you don’t really need to do it because we can give you all that same stuff in a non-gross way.

ScurvyChamp's avatar

I find it dificult to believe that among well-nutritioned human beings with sufficient medical care whatever benefits placentophagy may give can’t be achieved in some other way.

chyna's avatar

I watched a dog give birth and eat her placenta. I threw up. I don’t know if it’s healthy, but it is something I would never, ever consider.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I find this practice very weird. I mean, there’s no need to actually do this for the nutritional benefit, as there might have been when we lived in caves. I could understand doing it as a kind of spiritual ritual… but I think that would only be powerful if it was eaten raw, with bare hands, or something. Encapsulating it seems to remove the very mystery that draws people to do it in the first place.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

A lot of animals do it. It’s thought to be a survival mechanism. It reduces the amount of scent around the newborn and draws less attention to the birthsite.

wilma's avatar

Yep @Adirondackwannabe, and although there are some guests we might want to keep away from our newborns, many guests are welcome.

Keep_on_running's avatar

Maybe the act of licking it off was beneficial in the animal kingdom to help the mother bond with its offspring. It does seem silly though, unless research shows otherwise.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Supposedly, it’s full of iron and other nutrients that gives the new mom energy to take proper care of her new baby, but… eewwwwww.

You know what I ate for sustenance and energy after I gave birth? Steaks and Subway sandwiches, and lots of fresh greens. Oh, and I continued taking my prenatal vitamins for extra nutrients that my babies sucked out of me. Placenta Pate never entered my mind. <shudder>

jca's avatar

Gross. No, thank you.

SpatzieLover's avatar

For human mamas, my answer is no. Geez, I could barely look at mine. When I went to go find my link, I had to quickly scroll through the search to get away from the images <shudder>.

For new mammal mothers, yes, placentophagy is beneficial for a number of health and safety reasons…and by mammals I mean animals other than humans.

If you look at the link above you can read this:
There have been no scientific studies which show that placentophagy enhances analgesia in humans.

Besides all of this, I doubt that either cooking it or encapsulating it has anywhere near the same benefits our four-legged friends are getting from eating placenta. So if someone really wants the benefit, IMO, they’d need to eat it raw at the time of the birth.

ml3269's avatar

… perhaps one can put the placenta in the fridge and after returning home from hospital or after a week at home you can invite the family… for a placenta-lasagna or paella with placenta or what else… I personally would not eat anything coming out of my body… disgusting threat… ;)

marinelife's avatar

I would be more interested in banking the stem cells that are present for the baby’s future needs.

Sunny2's avatar

Might be good with lemon and capers. I assume you cook it and don’t just eat it raw. I think the custom is probably more prevalent where food is scarce. . . . .or maybe a good spicy barbecue sauce . . .

Akua's avatar

What is done and said between doctor and patient is confidential right? So WHO told the media that she ate her babies placenta after birth? Did she share that info.? Okay, my reason for saying this is that I’m sick of these hollywood people “leaking” these outrageous stories for publicity sake. I know there are women out there who probably DO believe that this practice is beneficial but I seriously doubt that she is one of them. If she felt the need to do this why blab about it unless you wanted the attention. In answer to the original question, I believe that eating placenta may have some benefits although I’m not educated enough in this topic to know what they are. Would I do it? No. Do I have an opinion or care if other people want to do it? No.

Keep_on_running's avatar

Wouldn’t this be considered cannibalism too?

cazzie's avatar

Cord blood saved the life of a child of a very good friend of mine. @marinelife is right. More should be done for chord blood banks. This shit is just silly.

RocketGuy's avatar

It’s full of stem cells, which are medically useful if processed, but eat? Eww!

downtide's avatar

When my brother was born in 1979 my mother was offered the placenta to eat. When she declined, they suggested “we can fry it up with some onions if you like”. She still declined. Had I been offered at the birth of my own daughter, I think I would at least have tried it. I am suspicious about the effect of cooking it though. I suspect it would render any medical value to be useless.

fluthernutter's avatar

I don’t have much of an issue with this. Maybe a slight concern about grossing out my husband.

Being raised in queasy western cultures, encapsulated pills is probably the way I would go.

I think it’s interesting how quickly we are divorced from anything that comes from our bodies. When it comes down to it, it’s just organ meat.

Sure, there’s that slight nag of self-cannibalism. But are we really more concerned with something that comes from our own bodies versus meat from all of these animals pumped up on hormones that we normally eat?

rebbel's avatar

@fluthernutter Good point, the interesting how quickly we are divorced from anything that comes from our bodies remark.
After all it came from the same place as the baby, just seconds after.
And for months it was of great aid for the baby.

rooeytoo's avatar

I have a friend who was a veterinarian then went back to school and became a pediatrician. When asked what was the most difficult part of the transition, his stock reply was “getting the mothers to eat the afterbirth.” I had no idea it wasn’t a joke!!!

The theory with dogs was that consumption of it induced production of colostrum, that first batch of valuable milk from momma dog. Guess it would be similar for humans.

Thank goodness I am divorced from anything that comes from my body, I can’t think of anything I would want to eat after being weaned from my mammy!

SomeoneElse's avatar

It certainly doesn’t appeal to me – it looked unpleasant to be honest!
It’ll provoke another ‘fad’ having this actress eat hers, until they come up with something else.

Symbeline's avatar

I don’t have a problem with the practice. If it is beneficial, then cool. I denno if I’d wanna do that though…seems pretty damn gross. Mustn’t taste all that good, either. Maybe if I could prepare it, or like, cook it or something. Then again, that probably kills all the vitamins. Hm.

Bellatrix's avatar

Thanks everyone. As I said, it isn’t something I could do. Doesn’t appeal at all. If someone felt this was the right thing for them to do I wouldn’t be horrified though. I agree with @marinelife that a better use would be the provision of stem cells. I think the benefits of those stem cells far outweigh any benefits from eating the placenta.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I was inspired by this question, so we’re having the neighbor’s placenta for dinner. With fava beans and a nice Chianti.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Dr. WillWorkForChocolate Lector?! ;D

bkcunningham's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate, I wondered what wine to serve with placenta. Now I know.

wilma's avatar

Fifty years ago when my mother-in-law gave birth at home. Her sister-in-law who was there helping, took the placenta out in the back yard, (in a pie pan) and buried it under a bush.
If it can’t be used for stem cells, or other medical uses, then I say fertilizer is a pretty good use for it.

SpatzieLover's avatar

^Yes @wilma, I’ve heard of this tradition. Often I’ve heard that the family plants a sapling with the placenta.

bkcunningham's avatar

I’ve heard of burying the placenta. It was back in the days of home births before every baby was born in a hospital.

Akua's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I’m LMAO!!! I loved that movie! @wilma I did that with my daughters after birth. It’s been nourishing a tree in central park for 17 years.

digitalimpression's avatar

No. That’s as wrong as two b… wait I can’t say that anymore these days. Damn.

prioritymail's avatar

Mammals actually DO eat their own placenta—for example, cows. It is highly nutritious. Other mammals may also eat their placentas too, not sure if it is for the nutrition or to minimize the smell so predators can’t find them as easily. I was just talking with a friend from Thailand that told me cow placenta is a delicacy in Thailand. They also make creams out of it. Logically you would expect a human placenta to be nutritious also.

wilma's avatar

Mammal mothers also lick their young’s behinds to clean them.
I’m not doing that either.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Yeah @wilma I’m not killing or eating my young, either.

ragingloli's avatar

nobody is perfect. except for me, of course.

fluthernutter's avatar

We buried my placenta under a sapling. We had to sign a waiver at the hospital to claim what was labelled as biohazard material. Ha.

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