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To eat or not to eat?
Eating placenta-Hannah Richardson.jpg
Local mom Hannah Richardson holds her encapsulated placenta. Many placenta-consuming moms choose encapsulation, in which the placenta is steamed, dehydrated, ground and then sprinkled into capsules.

What would you eat if you thought the health benefits were significant enough?

For some women, just the thought of consuming certain things is enough to trigger their gag reflex. Like eating one’s placenta, for example. 

Still, many are curious about placentophagy and whether there are health benefits for mom and baby.

First, what is placenta? It’s an organ attached to the lining of the womb that delivers oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby. It’s also the only organ a woman’s body makes and then gets rid of. At delivery time, it weighs about one pound.

So, what do moms in our community think about eating their placenta after birth?

Hannah Richardson said when she became pregnant with her second baby, she began researching natural ways to have a safe and healthy delivery and, most importantly, to help with post-pregnancy. 

After finding a doula located in Smyrna, Hannah explained how easy and quick the process was, saying her placenta encapsulation took just three days. For pick up, encapsulation and delivery, the cost was around $200.

 “After birth, I asked the doctor if we could keep the placenta. He said absolutely and put it on ice,” said Hannah. “I immediately took it home, put it in the fridge and contacted my doula to pick it up. She was there the next day and delivered it two days after that. She gave me the capsules and also a tincture that I could put in my water after the capsules were finished.”

Hannah said that after a week of taking her placenta pills, she started feeling energy return. She also mentioned that in three weeks, she noticed no feelings of the baby blues.

“I never cried,” said Hannah. “I felt completely normal, more so than I did with my first. I also noticed immediately after I stopped breastfeeding, my monthly cycle started back and it was normal which didn’t happen at all with my first child.”

Although Hannah fully supports the practice, other moms in our community aren’t quite convinced, including Katie Rogers and Wesley Cook. Both moms mentioned being very interested in anything and everything related to pregnancy and post-partum, but need more research-based evidence supporting the benefits of it.

“I would not be opposed to trying this if research showed that the placenta ingestion promoted milk production,” said Katie. “I had a difficult time producing enough milk with Maggie and it really took a toll on me physically, mentally and emotionally. I do worry about those things this pregnancy as well, but again, there just isn’t enough supporting research for me to try it this time.”

Wesley agreed while adding the research she has found is very controversial on health benefits. 

“While it intrigues me, I don’t think I will be doing it,” said Wesley. “I even read that the CDC has no standards so whoever prepares the capsules for you does not have any safety standards. My thoughts are, if enough research and if doctors truly believed this would help women with PPD and breast milk supply, they would be pushing for it and suggesting it for their patients.”  

So should mothers eat their placentas? Haley Hutchison, a family nurse practitioner at Namaste OB-GYN, says it’s not been medically studied or FDA approved so she can’t really give any medical advice on it.

“We don’t really know,” said Haley. “It’s more of a holistic approach, but I don’t think there is any harm to it. When we have women bring it up, we let them make their own choice, but we don’t have anything to do with it.”