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Are Some Mothers Really Consuming Their Placenta?

It may sound a little off the wall, but an increasing number of new mothers are consuming their placenta after delivery. So is this just a new dangerous health craze or something that mothers should really consider doing?

Actually, the practice of consuming the placenta after birth is not new. In fact, the Chinese have been doing it for centuries and many wild animals also consume the placenta after giving birth. Some of the purported benefits of consuming the placenta include improved production of breast milk, restoration of iron levels, increased energy, and improvement in stress problems and mood. “Some people advocate that a woman can help restore her body after giving birth by consuming the placenta,” remarked Dr. Michelle Sinopoli, an OB-Gyn physician at Reliant Medial Group. “However, there have been no significant research studies on whether any of these claims are true. So as physicians we really can’t say one way or another whether any of these benefits are real or not.”

Most women who consume their placenta do so in encapsulated form. This involves the placenta being steamed, dehydrated, ground up, and then placed into capsules. Most doctors believe that it’s safe for a mother to consume the placenta this way. However, some women have reported experiencing symptoms such as dizziness and/or jitteriness after ingesting the capsules and discontinue using them. Since there is the possibility of transmitting blood-borne diseases in the pills, other family members should not consume them.

If you are thinking of encapsulating your placenta after birth, you should find a certified encapsulation specialist. Although no government agency oversees this certification, certified encapsulation companies voluntarily follow government guidelines for safe food handling and storage. You should also call the hospital you will have your delivery in to make arrangements for taking home the placenta. Keep in mind that some states have regulations regarding bringing home the placenta and you may need to sign some forms.

If you are considering consuming your placenta after delivery, be sure to inform your doctor. You should never take any natural or over-the-counter supplement without first informing your physician. And remember that if you have any postpartum health problems, such as iron deficiency, persistent hemorrhaging or depression, always see a medical professional immediately.

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