As far as health trends go, this is not the most appealing… or should we say appetizing of them all! However, it could be really beneficial for your health as a new mother. We’re talking about placenta pills–a method of ingesting the placenta (yes, your actual placenta) after it’s been steamed, dehydrated, ground, and neatly contained in pills.
Celebrities like Coleen Rooney, Hilary Duff, Chrissy Teigan, and the Kardashians are all placenta pill advocates, and there are many reputable, professional and accredited encapsulation services to boot. But we definitely don’t do things just because the celebs do them… so we wanted to dig into the research to give you the information you need to know. So, what are the proven benefits, if any?
Let’s start with a quick reminder on what exactly the function of the placenta is. It’s the organ that surrounds the fetus in the womb and allows for the exchange of nutrients, blood and waste between the mother and baby. It is expelled from the body after you give birth.
By its nature, the placenta is incredibly nutrient dense. It contains A, C, D, and B vitamins, loads of minerals, and other substances necessary for fetal growth such as fatty acids, amino acids, and glucose. It also holds the reproductive hormones estrogen, progesterone, and oxytocin, which all decline after you give birth.
That’s all well and good that it’s full of nutrients, but where did the idea of eating it come from? The custom of placenta consumption is actually a centuries old tradition found most often in Chinese medicine. Today, the process of consuming it is through pills where the placenta has been ground, steamed, dehydrated and encapsulated, which usually only takes a day or two. Plus it’s much more… palatable.
So what are the supposed benefits of this service? Although research is still fairly limited, it is thought that consuming your placenta following birth can have the following positive effects:
- Increased release of oxytocin, which helps the uterus return to normal size and encourages bonding with baby
- Increased levels of CRH, a stress-reducing hormone
- A decreased in risk of postpartum depression
- A reduction is postpartum bleeding
- Boosted energy levels
- Stimulation of the immune system
- Restored iron levels in the blood
- Increased milk production
Sounds great. But is this all too good to be true?
As we mentioned, although the placenta itself is full of beneficial nutrients, there is not a lot of evidence to suggest that new mothers can gain much through consuming the placenta.
Also, if the placenta has not been properly handled and encapsulated, it can pose a risk of infection, which could be passed onto your baby through breast-feeding. It is also important to ensure that if you do get them made, your placenta pills must be stored correctly (in a cool, dark place but not in the fridge) and should only be ingested by the mother. The placenta can also contain toxins such as mercury, lead, and aluminum, so consuming it may be dangerous–always discuss this option with your healthcare provider before going forward with consuming your placenta, even in pill form.
So there’s definitely a lot of potential benefits, but also a lot of risks to be aware of. As always, being informed is your best course of action. Now, if all of this really doesn’t sound like your thing, there are myriad other ways to stay healthy after birth:
- Eat protein rich foods such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, meat, fish and beans
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially if you are breastfeeding your baby
- Eat lots of fruit and vegetables as they contain vitamins, minerals, and fibre
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and junk foods
- Get as much rest as you can
Baby2Body will be here to help you accomplish all of those things in your early days of motherhood of course! For more of the latest research & tips along with recipes, meditations, and workouts to support you through preconception, pregnancy and postpartum, download the Baby2Body app today.