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Should You Eat Your Placenta?

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This is one of those perennial topics on pregnancy message boards all over the internet: should you eat your placenta? More and more women these days are choosing to consume their placenta - in capsule form, as a powder, in a smoothie, or just straight - and crediting eating the placenta with all kinds of physical and psychological health benefits. Meanwhile, many others find the idea weird, confusing, or even downright gross. What are the facts?

Pros:

1. Eating your placenta may help with postpartum depression. 

According to The Journal of Nutrition, there is a link between iron deficiency and postpartum depression. Your placenta is a good source of iron, and many women who have eaten their placentas report feeling more optimistic and energetic. That being said, there's no reason to think the iron found in your placenta is any different than the iron found in many other iron-rich foods.

2. Eating your placenta may make breastfeeding easier.

Your placenta contains prolactin, the hormone that signals your body to begin producing milk. Many woman who have eaten their placentas say it helped their milk come in earlier, and that's important, since fear of your baby getting hungry while waiting for your milk to come in (whether or not that fear is warranted) is a major reason mothers turn to formula. Others have claimed it increased their milk supply. However, there have been no conclusive studies proving the connection between placentas and breastfeeding, and there are many other proven ways to make breastfeeding go smoothly.

3. Your placenta is a source of vitamins and minerals.

Like most organs, the placenta is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and protein. There is no doubt all of those things are good for new mothers recovering from labor and delivery, but again - there are more conventional ways to get the same forms of nutrition.

Cons:

1. Ultimately, there are few real cons to eating your placenta (though some methods, like encapsulation, cost money, and any additional thing you have to do or remember while preparing for a newborn can add to your overall stress level). When it comes to eating your placenta, many women take a "can't hurt" approach and that's probably fine. However, none of the purported benefits to eating your placenta have been scientifically proven, and much of the good that mothers report might just be the result of the placebo effect. Of course, if the placebo effect makes you feel healthier and happier, that alone might be worth giving this growing trend a try.

 

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