• Mon, Apr 9 2012

Why I Plan To Eat My Own Placenta

placenta pillThe Mad Men season premiere was big news, but new mom January Jones made headlines of her own by announcing her decision to have her placenta encapsulated and the benefits she’s seen from taking the pills. “Your placenta gets dehydrated and made into vitamins,” she explained. “It’s something I was very hesitant about, but we’re the only mammals who don’t ingest our own placentas.”

The revelation was largely met with an online chorus of “Ew, gross!” from reporters and online commenters, combined with a few attempts to explain the practice, along the lines of “Well, cats do it…” Personally, I did a little fist shake of victory when I read about it: I plan to encapsulate and consume my placenta, too, and every prominent women who talks about doing it makes my own decision seems a bit less extreme. And a bit less, well, disgusting.

Believe me, nobody is more surprised about this decision than I am. When I first heard about placenta consumption, about five years ago, I deemed it about one step above witchcraft. Reading an examination of the practice, called placentophagia, in New York Magazine last year didn’t change my mind much. A placenta has served its very important purpose once the baby is out, I figured, and discarding it along with all the other bio-hazard waste is just the sensible thing to do. I didn’t keep my wisdom teeth once those were removed, I reasoned, and I wouldn’t need to keep my placenta either.

Fast forward a few years, and now I’m expecting – and planning to hire my doula to take my placenta home, dehydrate it, and put it into little capsules that I can pop post birth. I’m surprisingly not really bothered by the though of taking a couple of the hundred or so pills I’ll get with my morning smoothie. I can’t say that I’d be up for tossing a hunk of afterbirth in that smoothie or cooking it up in a stew – though for the interested, there’s no shortage of recipes online – but I’m otherwise pretty relaxed about the whole idea.

What changed? I’ve definitely moved closer to the hippie side of the spectrum overall, but the biggest factor in this choice is the fact that I’ve dealt with several serious episodes of clinical depression over the course of my adult life. My depression is being managed well now, but since becoming pregnant I’ve learned that my history puts me at a higher risk of developing postpartum depression after my baby is born – and frankly, I’m terrified.

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  • Michelle

    You know, to each their own. If you feel that this will help you then you go for it. It does seem a lot more tolerable to have it in a pill form, it seems easier to handle than plopping some placenta in a smoothie every morning. Personally, I don’t have any desire to eat my placenta but I’ve also never suffered from depression so I don’t know what I would in that situation.

  • katie

    I did have my placenta encapsulated after my second pregnancy and found it really helpful. I’m glad its going more mainstream.

  • Joanne

    Good for you, I hope it works out. Whatever you can do to stave off depression during what can be a depressing and exciting time has to be good for you and the babe.

  • Kylee

    Good for you. I think it’s great that you are being proactive about your mental health. I didn’t realize that one of the purported benefits was for mental health. Having experienced my own issues with depression and anxiety, I will definitely keep this in mind.

  • kate

    Good for you! I would not have done this, as i had medical problems directly related to the hormomes from the placenta, but in your circumstances i can see why you would go for it because it just might have a very nice benefit for you. Good luck with the pregnancy and birth!

  • Melissa

    I’m with the majority of reporters and online commenters – “Ew gross!” Other mammals eat their dead young too, are we going to do that next??

  • The Mommy Psychologist

    You are right. There is absolutely no scientific evidence to demonstrate a link between consuming your placenta and decreasing depression. I’m a child psychologist and I’ve also struggled with depression since I was a teenager. I prefer to stick with methods that have proven effectiveness. Also, I’m gonna wager a bet that you might be getting caught in the “I’m so Green” competition. I describe this competition here in a post I call, “I’m so green I eat my own placenta.” Feel free to check it out here:
    http://www.themommypsychologist.com/2012/03/28/im-so-green-i-eat-my-own-placenta/

    • Erica

      I might even go one step further to say eating the placenta could actually be a harmful practice, if it encourages new moms to avoid getting real treatment for PPD.

  • Liz W

    it was brought up in my first bradley class and my bf is more interested in it than i am. after they finished talking about it my bf asked if i wanted to do it. he’s willing to pay for it and everything.

  • Nadine Morris

    thank you for an informative article! it has missed my deadline, unfortunately. I would have loved to have tried this, honestly. I have an almost 3-month old at home, along with a toddler, and while I have escaped the immediate horrid black abyss of postpartum depression, anything that’s natural that would stand a chance at bolstering my mood during the tail end of this winter (SAD), I would have seriously looked into. cheers!

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  • MS

    I’m glad I read this article. When I first heard of placenta consumption, I thought people were (I’m embarrassed to admit) consuming it in its raw form in some way or another. Having it dehydrated and encapsulated isn’t disgusting at all. It’s no different than taking any other supplement.

    • rodona

      You don’t have to be embarrassed, some people DO eat their placentas raw (or mix them into smoothies or other food). I think that’s disgusting (especially when they just eat it whole by itself). However, I agree that having it encapsulated isn’t disgusting, it would be just like taking any other vitamin.

  • DK

    How is eating or supplementing with your own placenta any different than ingesting your menstrual fluids? That’s what I can’t get over. Isn’t it really kind of the same thing, at a really basic level?
    What are the wondrous properties it possesses? Iron? Big deal, I can get plenty of iron from actual food.
    Sorry, I’m with the Mommy Psychologist commenter on this one.
    I also think that maybe people who think that eating their placenta is conferring these great benefits on them are possibly doing other things more proven to enhance their mental and emotional health after giving birth – like breastfeeding.

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