Giving birth can take a toll on new mothers, especially after the baby arrives. Studies have shown nearly a quarter of all new moms experience some degree of postpartum depression. To combat the symptoms, some women have chosen a controversial approach – the ingestion of the human placenta.
Sage Khouerie admitted she was concerned about giving birth after the age of 40. So the 41-year old chose to ingest her placenta to avoid postpartum symptoms; the action of doing so is called placentaphagy.
“I was 40 when I delivered. I thought ‘Wow, this could be a little tougher on me than a younger woman and I want to be open to anything that would make it easier’,” said Khouerie.
The placenta, an organ about the size of a dinner plate, delivers nutrients from the mother to the child during gestation. Some mothers have chosen to eat it after childbirth, while others have cooked it and ground it into pill form.
Naeemah Jones is a doula (an assistant who provides various forms of non-medical support in the childbirth process) who helps new moms understand the benefits of the process. She feels ingestion of the placenta can decrease the negative symptoms that can occur after childbirth.
“Hair loss, a very small amount of breast milk,” said Jones, “(placentaphagy) helps produce more breast milk, it get the balance of the hormones together, it’s like a happy pill for the moms.”
Laura Taylor, 36, has three children but only chose to ingest her placenta after giving birth to her third child.
“So when I took them this time, I never had such a wonderful recovery after having a baby,” said Taylor.
While most mammals eat their own placenta, no studies have been done on the health benefits of human placentaphagy. Still, it’s growing in popularity. Jones says “now new parents are doing their homework, they are finding out they have choices.”
Research has shown that the practice is safe as long as mothers ingest their own placenta. There are some alternative medicines that include human placentas but those should be avoided due to a high risk factor.
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