Can The Practice Of Consuming Placentas Help New Moms?

The Chicago Tribune recently reported on the latest trend making news: post-delivery mothers consuming their placenta in the belief the practice will bring certain benefits.

Among the advantages they cite for this odd practice is: reducing fatigue, a more balanced mood, and increased breast milk production. Sounds terrific, after all, who wouldn’t want to gain this edge post-delivery?

But, as with all research on a topic as crucial to so many women and their families, there are a number of caveats to consider before taking this route.

Mark Kristal, a neuroscientist quoted in the Tribune article, who has studied placentophagy (the scientific name for the practice) in laboratory animals, says, “Until all the science is in, the cautions outweigh the expected benefits.”

In that this practice has been endorsed by some as the best way to prevent postpartum depression, I have discussed it in Chapter 4 (Cultural Practices, Myths and Rituals) of my book, “Happy Endings, New Beginnings, Navigating Postpartum Disorders,” Overall, I conclude there is a need for more evidence to support the claims of benefits from placentophagia. As yet, there’s been no double blind studies or research to support this practice, only first person accounts.

Therefore, in my opinion, the jury is still out. It’s possible it does help, but so far most reports are from those selling the service or from moms who have eaten their own placenta.

I join medical experts who suggest that the benefits reported could be related to a placebo effect. But, as I’ve often said about research studies on postpartum depression, I’m gratified they’re continuing. If a few dubious ones get in the mix, I can handle it. The more focus on the disorder, the better the outcome for new moms and their families.


~ by ppdsus on August 22, 2013.

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