Kim Kardashian recently announced she is eating her placenta after she gave birth to her second child Saint West. Kardashian has 'freeze-dried her placenta and made it into a pill form', according to her blog post titled Eating my placenta.
For those of you who might be feeling remotely interested, you could dry your placenta and eat it in the form of pills, you could stir fry it with onions, blend it into a smoothie or eat it raw. Now, don't throw up. The act of eating your placenta after you give birth, called placentophagy, is not just something that animals (non-human mammals, to be precise) do. Humans do it, too.
Placentophagy is not new–it is said to have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. In recent years, celebrities have triggered attention to the practice as a post-pregnancy healthy eating obsession. Kim Kardashian is not the first to feast on the placenta. She follows famous moms like her sister Kourtney Kardashian, Mad Men star January Jones and Alicia Silverstone.
To eat or not to eat
The placenta is an organ that develops on the wall of the uterus during pregnancy. It removes waste and provides oxygen and nutrients to the baby through the umbilical cord. Those in favour of placentophagy recommend it for better breast milk production and to ward off sleep disorders and postpartum depression, or 'baby blues'.
The scientific community, however, is skeptical about its benefits in humans. There are no relevant studies to show the effects of placentophagy on humans. What has been done, however, is a study on mice. The study conducted by Mark Kristal at the University of Buffalo suggested that there may be a compound in the placenta that has pain-relieving effects when ingested, provided there are compounds called opioids in the animal's system. But, we are talking about mice here, not humans. This study has not been extrapolated to humans.
While the placenta exists to nourish the foetus, it also serves as a barrier between the unborn child and the environment. Hence bacteria and heavy metals like selenium, lead and mercury have also been found in post-birth placentas. So, if you plan of popping that placenta pill, you may have no idea what else is in those pills.
Ladies, to eat or not to eat, is your choice.