Would you eat your placenta? That temporary organ grown in the womb that nourishes an infant? Anecdotal evidence points to mood and metabolism lifting benefits but scientific studies remain scant on the subject.
We asked the experts for their feedback on the practice made famous by celebrities from Kim Kardashian to Chrissy Teigen and Hilary Duff.
What is a placenta?
Dr L.amia Al Sayegh, Specialist Reproductive Medicine and Infertility at Fakih IVF Dubai, explains: “The placenta is an organ that nourishes the growing foetus by exchanging nutrients and oxygen and filtering out waste products via the umbilical cord.”
Why are women thinking of eating it?
Doula, hypnobirthing expert and parenting coach based in Dubai, Jasmin Collin, who is also trained in creating placenta capsules, says: “The anecdotal evidence is, women say it gives them more energy after birth, it gives them a mood boost and speeds up metabolism. Some women say it speeds up milk supply, a lot of women take it if they have post-partum depression beforehand in another birth – it helps them prevent that. It’s full of iron so it helps with anaemia, which is good in case of blood loss and reduces post-partum bleeding. Some women will also say it reduces pain after birth, and because it’s got oxytocin it can also improve bonding.”
How can a person eat placenta?
The most common placenta preparation, which consists of creating a capsule, is made by steaming and dehydrating the placenta or processing the raw placenta, Al Sayegh says.
And Collin warns: “If you are eating your placenta, it’s really important that it’s handled carefully because it’s a piece of meat, so if you are eating it raw or in a smoothie, it’s really important that it’s handled very carefully, it’s kept in a refrigerator or eaten straight away. There are two different ways for it to be prepared – into pills and you can have the raw method, or you can do the herbal method, which is steaming the placenta first.”
Is it dangerous?
Currently, the jury is out on this one. Al Sayegh says, “These preparations don't completely destroy infectious bacteria and viruses that the placenta might contain. The [US] Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a warning against taking placenta capsules due to a case in which a new-born developed group B streptococcus (group B strep) after the mother took placenta pills containing group B strep and breastfed her newborn.”
“Some studies have come up with the findings that it helps with breast milk secretion but on the whole, it can cause infections, because eating it raw or steamed or cooked can’t kill all the bacteria, so far it’s not recommended by CDC,” adds Dr Pragati Grover, Specialist Obstetrics and Gynaecologist with Prime Medical Centre.
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