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Why Women Consume Their Placenta and How to Answer Those Common Questions

There are many reasons why women consume their placenta, including personal and spiritual purposes. There will also be those that question why you would consume your placenta. I've addressed those common questions with ways to kindly answer and educate those that want further clarification. Hopefully this will help you feel confident when responding to those that might inquire about why you are choosing to utilize my services.

Why do women consume their placentas?

There are many different reasons that lead women to make the decision to consume their placentas. For many women it is the first-hand accounts they hear from friends or recommendations made by their Doulas, Midwives, or Doctors. They have heard other moms talk about how consuming their placenta has been a positive experience for them. Many moms report that they believed it helped with their postpartum experience, stopped their bleeding, reduced their pain, and increased their milk supply. For some women, this is a cultural and spiritual practice. Many cultures hold the placenta in high regards and they may even honor it by other means.

What does it consist of?

***Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone (CRH) is a hormone that is usually produced by the hypothalamus under times of stress. It's release will trigger other hormones to increase and that increases the hormone cortisol. Cortisol raises your blood sugar and helps regulate blood pressure to help us when we are under stress. During the last trimester of your pregnancy, your placenta will release a lot of CRH, about threefold! According to George Chrousos, an endocrinologist who led this study, the hypothalamus releases less CRH during pregnancy possibly because the placenta disrupts the feedback system that regulates the normal production of the hormone. After birth, the hypothalamus doesn't create the levels that are needed. It takes some time to begin making more CRH. Low levels of CRH in postpartum women may be linked to depression. ***Vitamin B-6 assists metabolism, your nervous system function and helps you feel energetic. ***Oxytocin promotes the feelings of love and empathy. When you consume your placenta, its high levels of oxytocin are thought to slow your postpartum bleeding, alleviate discomfort, and assist with breastfeeding. ***Prolactin (PRL) Promotes lactation and increases milk supply.

***Placental opioid enhancing factor (POEF). It can help increase your pain relief and give you a better mood.

But isn't the placenta is full of toxins?

The levels of heavy metals found in the placenta are minimal and well below the recommended safe levels for consumption by the FDA. Association of Placenta Preparation Arts board member Nikole Keller says, “the placenta is often referred to as a filter; this isn’t an ideal term for the placenta considering its function in the body… A more suitable way of looking at it would be as a gate keeper between the mother and the fetus. The placenta’s job is to keep the maternal and fetal blood separate, at the same time allowing nutrients to pass to the fetus, gas exchange to occur, and allowing waste from the fetus to pass through the mother, . The placenta does prevent some toxins from passing through to the fetus but they are not stored in the placenta. Toxins in the body and waste from the fetus are processed by the mother’s liver and kidneys for elimination” (Keller). Keller, N. June 22, 2015

Isn't it cannibalism?

The definition of cannibalism is:

noun 1. the usually ritualistic eating of human flesh by a human being.

2. the eating of the flesh of an animal by another animal of the same kind

You are not killing another person when you eat your own placenta. It comes out of your own body once its purpose is finished. We don't view animals who eat their placentas as cannibalistic. This is no different than someone who eats their own hangnails or boogers, haha. Also, some beauty products today have placenta in them. We have no problem utilizing the benefits of placenta when it comes to using these cosmetics, why not for our postpartum benefit too?

I thought animals only eat their placentas to avoid attracting predators!

  • Mothers of unchallenged predatory species will still eat the placenta, even though no threat is there.

  • Mothers of non-nesting species (cattle, sheep, goats, etc) often remain at the birth site long after their baby is able to walk away to finish eating their placenta.

  • Primates who deliver in trees do not drop the placenta to the ground to get rid of it. This would seem a logical way to deter predators. They instead will spend up to two hours eating it.

  • Birth fluids and by products that have soaked into the ground and might be expected to attract predators are not necessarily cleaned up after the mother is finished consuming her placenta.

Kristal, M.B. “Placentophagia: A Behavioral Enigma” Neuroscience & Biohehavioral Reviews, Vol 4, 1980 pp 141-150

Soykova-Pachnerova, Ela; Vlastimil Brutar and Eva Zvolska. “Placenta as a Lactogen”.

Don't you think it's gross?

There are a lot of people who have different ideas of what is gross. Many people consume different things for the sake of well being. What we eat in our culture is different than in other cultures. We do not regularly eat many foods that are common in other civilizations. We eat many genetically modified and chemically laced food every day. Encapsulating your placenta is no different than taking a vitamin.

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