Would You Eat Your Placenta?

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fork and spoon on plateYour body has just experienced the profound physical trauma of childbirth. You're spent. Exhausted and, if you're like me, totally ravenous. You need a snack. You look around the room and your eyes land on -- your placenta.

Yes, you heard that right, your PLACENTA. Momlogic recently shared the story of how Chrissy Schilling and her twin sister, Kathy, cooked and ate Chrissy's placenta after the birth of her first baby. Did they eat it with some fava beans and a nice Chianti? Nope, they cooked it up and ate it panini-style, and then later had a second helping over some pasta.

Totally crazy, right? Like, off-the-wall, no-one-does-that, OH-MY-GOD-GROSS crazy, right? Wrong. Turns out, Schilling and her intrepid sister aren't the only ones who believe eating the organ is healthy and perfectly normal. In fact, some birth experts believe the placenta is chock full of nutrients and hormones that help women bounce back from labor and delivery.

Philadelphia mom of two Joanna Peery Polyn agrees with this premise, and ate "a few bites" of her own placenta just after giving birth to her second child.

Polyn writes about her adventures in motherhood and placenta consumption on her blog, The Modernity Ward, and says she came across anecdotal information that eating the organ can help ward off post-partum depression. "Having had one bout of PPD, I would have done anything to decrease my chances of having it again," she says. "Also, it seemed like the right thing to do on an instinctual level -- most other animals eat their placentas, and I believe there's a natural reason for it."

While Polyn admits that there is little hard evidence that it does, indeed, have any health benefits, mental or otherwise, she decided to try it because "there's no harm in it." After those first few post-partum bites, she took the organ home in a plastic bag and a disposable container. I have to be honest, I don't know what I would say if a friend of mine ate her own placenta. So how did people react to Polyn's decision?

"My midwives thought it was great, and the hospital nursing staff certainly didn't say a word," she says. "Most of my friends were supportive, or at least curious. One friend, who is a physician, was a bit argumentative about the matter, telling me it was gross and that there was no evidence it was useful."

Polyn retorted by saying that "gross is in the eye of the beholder." Her mother and mother-in-law didn't have much to say about the whole thing, she adds, but they did let her clean the blender after she made a "placenta smoothie."

Amely Wrumbrand of Seattle fully intended to eat her placenta after the birth of her son, Brandon, six years ago, but could never quite work up the nerve to do so. Although the hospital where she gave birth did not permit her to bring the organ home, Wrumbrand's midwife smuggled it out and kept in her freezer for six months.

Finally, Wrumbrand brought the placenta home. "I put in my freezer for the next six months while I got up the nerve to eat it," she says. "There was constant teasing during this time by my husband, I assure you. He insisted I had to eat it while he was out of the house."

Alas, Wrumbrand never quite had the -- wait for it -- guts to make a meal of it. Instead, she and her husband decided to bury it under a tree, a more common cultural tradition.

"We dutifully took it to the forest, frozen, and started the process when we realized it was wrapped in a plastic bag, which was, of course, frozen to it," she recalls. "We proceeded to try and defrosts it, and free it from it's bag prior to planting. This turned out to be no easy undertaking, and about a half-hour later, we had the half-freed placenta and our bloody hands to show for it."

Eating it, Wrumbrand says with a laugh, "definitely might have been less intense." In fact, she is expecting her second child in July, and is still interested in possibly eating it this time around.

All kidding aside, there really isn't any scientific proof that eating your placenta has any health benefits at all. Some, like New York City physician and JustAnswer medical expert Dr. Simon Grinshteyn, even assert that it could be hazardous. "The placenta may contain HIV, hepatitis or other infections agents that may get passed to someone else," he says.

Despite these opinions, Polyn says she believes eating her placenta helped her stave off the baby blues.

"I did not develop postpartum depression or anxiety this time," she says. "I also felt physically great a lot faster this time -- I didn't feel hormonal, and my energy returned quickly. I'd definitely do it again -- such a small thing to do for such a huge payoff. And it really wasn't bad, it didn't taste like anything at all."

If there's one thing that gets under my skin, it's when parents pass judgment on other parents. So to Polyn and Wrumbrand and any other mom out there who considers eating her own placenta -- ladies, more power to you.

But you'll understand if I don't come over for lunch.

Would you ever consider eating your own placenta? Or have you, and why?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.