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Placenta eating: A debatable practice

by Content Editor
Placenta eating: A debatable practice

Placentophagy is the fact of eating one’s placenta to facilitate the aftermath of childbirth. Is this organ good for your health? In what form should it be eaten?

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Is placenta edible and good for your health?

According to American stars, eating the placenta is the best way to get back into shape after birth. More and more celebrities are praising the nutritional virtues of this organ, which is essential to the baby during its intra-uterine life. The success is such that recipe books have even been published to help mothers cook their placenta. In France, we are far, very far from this kind of practice. The placenta is destroyed immediately after birth with the other operative remains. In theory, we do not have the right to return it to the parents. The placenta is made up of maternal blood; it can carry diseases.

Nevertheless, the legislation has evolved: in 2011, the placenta obtained the status of a graft. It is no longer considered a surgical waste. It could be collected for therapeutic or scientific purposes if the woman who gave birth did not object.

Eating the placenta, an ancient practice

Apart from dolphins and whales, humans are the only mammals that do not ingest their placenta after birth. Females eat their placenta so as not to leave any traces of the delivery. It’s a way for them to protect their babies from predators. While placentophagy is innate in animals, it has also been practiced by many ancient civilizations in various forms. In the Middle Ages, women consumed all or part of their placenta to improve their fertility.

In the same way, this organ was believed to have virtues of fighting male impotence. But to have these magical effects, the man had to ingest it without his knowledge. Often, the procedure consisted of burning the placenta and consuming the ashes with water. There is still a strong belief that the placenta is the matrix of maternal fertility among the Inuit. To become pregnant again, a woman must eat her placenta after giving birth. Today, placentophagy is making a strong comeback in the United States and England and more timid in France. The increase in natural and home births facilitates access to the placenta and these new practices.

Better recovery after childbirth

Why eat your placenta? Although no scientific studies prove the benefits of eating placenta, it is believed to have many benefits for new mothers. The nutrients it contains are said to help the mother get back into shape more quickly and to promote the flow of milk. The ingestion of the placenta also facilitates the secretion of oxytocin, the mothering hormone. Thus, young mothers are less likely to suffer from postpartum depression. And the mother-child attachment would be reinforced. However, the renewed interest in the placenta does not convince all professionals. For many specialists, this practice is absurd and backward.

Capsules, granules. How to consume your placenta?

How can placenta be consumed? Your placenta is dehydrated and turned into vitamins. Therefore, it is obviously out of the question to eat your placenta raw when you leave the maternity ward. In the United States, where placentophagy is allowed, mothers can ingest it in the form of homeopathic granules or capsules. In the first case, the placenta is diluted several times; then, granules are impregnated with this dilution. In the second case, the placenta is crushed, dried, powdered and incorporated directly into pills. In both cases, laboratories carry out these transformations after the mother sends a piece of placenta.

Placenta mother tincture

More traditional, mother tincture is another way to treat the placenta. This homemade process has developed, especially in countries where placentophagy is forbidden. In this case, parents have no choice but to make their own placenta mother tincture from the many freely available protocols on the Internet. The process is as follows: the piece of placenta must be cut and diluted several times in a hydro-alcoholic solution. The recovered preparation no longer contains blood, but the active principles of the placenta have been preserved. The mother tincture of the placenta would facilitate, in the same way as the granules and capsules of this organ, the recovery of the mother, and would also have virtues in local application, to look after all kinds of infections in the child (gastroenteritis, otitis, classic infantile diseases). However, the mother tincture of the placenta should only be used within the same sibling.


While many new moms hail the virtues of eating the afterbirth, people argue that the practice may be more detrimental than beneficial. There is inadequate data to support the claim that eating the placenta enhances new moms’ health.

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