Did you know that the placenta or what is normally called the afterbirth can be processed and eaten as a regular protein?
The placenta is a tissue that connects the baby to the mother through an umbilical cord during pregnancy. The placenta is responsible for transporting blood, oxygen and nutrients to the foetus. The placenta also serves as a filter which segregates unwanted or harmful substances that are bound to get to the foetus from the mother during development.
When the foetus fully develops and is ready to be born, it comes with comes out together with some other tissues and fluids from the womb including the umbilical cord, placenta, amniotic fluids and blood.
An article written by Heidi Murkoff (2021) retrieved from ‘What to expect when you are expecting’ indicates that placentophagy (the ingestion of a human placenta postpartum, either in raw or processed form) is not a new thing and that it is possible for baby moms to eat the placenta for various health reasons because it is loaded with irons and vitamins such as B6 and B12. Placentophagy can, however, pose a health risk on consumption.
Based on the fact that experts have proven placentophagy to be very useful in animals, humans have taken a liking to that notion with claims that it helps to ease postnatal effects and serves as a booster for the mothers. It is said to improve energy and milk supply, reduce bleeding, provide nutrients, and also inhibits depression.
There are three ways of consuming the placenta which includes roasting or cooking it with seasoning, making a smoothie out of it or encapsulation. The process of making it into a smoothie is basically blending the carefully washed placenta and adding ingredients that will make it easier to drink.
The capsulated placenta is washed thoroughly and put in an oven at low heat and grilled dry, that is, basically getting all the water out of it. It is then ground into a powder, compressed or put into a capsule foil to be taken once a day. All of this process is possible within the comfort of one’s home.
No matter how well the placenta is processed for consumption, it is never completely safe as the processes do not entirely destroy infectious bacteria or viruses that might be carried by the placenta. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning against the act due to a case in which a newborn baby was infected with a virus through breastfeeding after the mother had taken placenta pills containing the virus.
Despite the several positive medical and health claims made for placentophagy, there have been no proven health benefits. Medical authorities recommend antenatal mothers to seek better medical alternatives to eating of their placenta.
The negatives appear to far outweigh any health benefits from eating placenta, post-partum.