I Ate My Placenta and You Should, Too
I know this might sound a little crazy, but new mamas in some cultures have been eating their placentas since the dawn of time, and most other mammals do it, too.
I just ate my placenta. Well, I drank it, actually, over the course of a month, whipped up in refreshing fruit smoothies. I know, I know: this sounds a little crazy, but new mamas in some cultures have been doing this since the dawn of time, and most other mammals do it, too (though smoothies are a uniquely human twist). B
I first heard about placentophagy (meaning: eating one’s placenta) shortly after my first son’s birth. I remember thinking, “Why would anyone do that?” But, as I approached my second baby’s planned home birth a month ago, I warmed to the idea, having learned the answer to my initial question in the meantime, and having met a few other moms who’ve done it and sworn it made them feel amazing. Eating the placenta—the organ your body grows to protect and nourish your baby during pregnancy—is reputed to help with everything from breastfeeding success to positive moods and mama-baby bonding. Although the Western medical community hasn’t conducted sufficient research to prove—or disprove—these associated benefits, Traditional Chinese Medicine (a system of medicine 5,000 years strong) has long prescribed placenta to postpartum moms. I was open to anything that might help us get off to a great start, and this actually seemed like a pretty simple step to take in that direction. When I asked my midwife about it, she agreed that it’s indeed super helpful to women after childbirth. So, now thinking, “Hey, why not?”, I decided to take the plunge.
How’d it go? Totally fine—in fact, it was surprisingly easy. Here are five tips I picked up along the way.
1. Go for capsules if you’re queasy. I initially planned to consume my placenta in a dehydrated, powdered form via capsules. The idea of literally eating, chew-and-swallow style, one of my own organs made me gag a little bit, but popping a pill? No problem. While capsules are a little less potent than downing placenta in its pure, direct form, they’re more palatable, portable – you can keep a stash in your purse – and convenient.
(Bonus tip: most midwives and doulas will be able to prepare placenta capsules for you. If you think you might want some, be sure to ask about this when interviewing prospective members of your birth team.)
2. Consider smoothies for the full effect. When I asked my midwife about preparing placenta capsules for me, she said she’d be happy to, but then asked if I’d be open to drinking it in smoothies, as well. Now, I’d heard about placenta smoothies before, and always pictured, like, a (human) meat smoothie. Gross, right? But what my midwife was suggesting was preparing a normal smoothie with just a small, frozen piece of raw placenta thrown in. “You won’t even taste it,” she assured me.
Taken this way, placenta’s effects are more direct, and felt more immediately. My doulas whipped one up for me several hours after I’d given birth. I was a little apprehensive at first, but it tasted delicious and went a long way toward restoring my vitality; my recovery from Otto’s birth was remarkably fast, and I’m sure my power smoothies played a role in that.
(Bonus tip: Smoothies make it easy to get tons of fruits, veggies, and other nutritious foods into your body in one fell swoop – perfect for busy, sleep-deprived new mamas. I mix mine up with frozen berries, bananas, raw milk yogurt and flax seeds. Yum!)
3. Repeat after me: “Just don’t think about it.” Eating ‘mindfully’ is a wonderful practice, but when it comes to eating placenta, denial is a beautiful thing. Once I made the decision to eat mine, the easiest way to get it down was by just going for it: bottoms up. My smoothies looked and tasted just like regular smoothies; I’d never have known placenta was among their ingredients if I hadn’t actually, well, known. So I pretended not to.
(Bonus tip: Placenta capsules make this process even easier. See tip #1.)
4. Get your hands on a really good blender. Unfortunately, on the placenta front, my beloved, fancy chrome food processor (my husband calls it my ‘hot rod’) wasn’t quite cutting it… all… up. I discovered a few chewy chunks in my first smoothies, which made it kind of tough, so to speak, to follow rule #3. The solution? I posted a little cry for help on Facebook, and within 24 hours was the proud borrower of a close friend’s Blendtec. (She made me promise first not to tell her husband what I was using it for.) No more chunks!
(Bonus tip: A Vitamix will also get the job done nicely.)
5. Proudly wear your badass badge. My pre-mom self may not have thought myself capable of eating my own placenta. Giving birth made me realize, though, that if I can push a baby out, I can do anything. I now not only feel like a badass—because, shoot, I just ate my placenta—but I also feel really good in all the ways that count for a lot right now (physically, mentally, emotionally), thanks to its awesome effects.
Would you eat your placenta?
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