Why I Plan To Eat My Own Placenta

By  | 

Depression is not kind to a new mother. Dealing with sleep exhaustion, a brand-new and crying baby, a seriously distended midsection, and the trials of establishing breastfeeding all sounds overwhelming enough on its own. When you’re clinically depressed everything is overwhelming, starting with getting out of bed in the morning; I can’t even imagine adding all the rest of that on top of the pile.

One of the reasons most often given for consuming the placenta post-birth – whether dehydrated, or raw or cooked in its whole form – is to protect against postpartum depression, either by making it less severe or preventing it altogether. There is scant research on this, but no shortage of anecdotal evidence and testimonials online. Supporters of the practice say that consuming the placenta after birth provides the mother with iron, preventing deficiency and the fatigue that can result. Others point to a possible protective effect from the hormones in the placenta. (Apparently it also makes your hair look great. Bonus!)

And maybe there’s something of a placebo effect at work as well – the science on that is more robust and we know that such a thing does exist. If we can benefit from the placebo effect by believing we are taking pharmaceuticals, why not with afterbirth? Is it really so bad to fool myself a little in the name of the greater good of my mental health?

In the end, I know I’m not going to find a study I can wave in people’s faces to prove that there’s a solid, scientifically established reason to take those red capsules. I’m just going to have to put up with the squinched-up, disgusted faces and hope for the best. My decision came down to the fact that there is no apparent harm but some possible benefit, and when we’re talking about the part of this whole experience that I fear the most, that’s enough. I guess I’m learning a bit early that parenting will make a person do things she never, ever thought she’d do.

(Photo: iStockphoto)

Pages: 1 2