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It's a controversial practice many moms—including the Kardashian sisters—swear by that may soon become less contentious. New research indicates consuming placenta doesn't put a mother's baby at risk.


According to a joint study by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Oregon State University published this month in the journal Birth, moms who ingest their placenta pass no harm to their infants.

The study comes on the heels of a report published last year in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, discouraging the practice of consuming placenta, known as placentophagy. That report details a case in which a newborn baby developed group B Streptococcus sepsis (GBS) after the mother ingested placenta capsules. While there was no definitive proof that the baby got sick because of the mother's placenta pills, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still advised against placenta capsule ingestion in an abundance of caution.

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"When the placenta passes after the baby through the birth canal, and it will also come in contact with these pathogens lingering in the recto-vaginal area. Eating that contaminated placental tissue could then further expose the woman and her baby to those invasive pathogens," the lead author of the report, infectious disease expert Dr. Genevieve Buser, told Motherly last year.

The authors of the new study say their findings contrast the previous report and the CDC's stance. "Our findings were surprising given the recent guidelines recommending against placenta consumption, as well as the known risks of consuming uncooked or undercooked meat," said Daniel Benyshek, a professor of anthropology at UNLV and the study's lead author. "These new findings give us little reason to caution against human maternal placentophagy out of fear of health risks to the baby."

Benyshek's team reviewed about 23,000 birth records and found there was no increased risk of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit admissions, hospitalization or infant death in the first six weeks of life due to a mother's ingestion of placenta.

While the study did not examine the impact of placentophagy on postpartum mood disorders, the authors note that women who reported a history of anxiety or depression were more likely to consume their placentas, and that preventing postpartum depression was the most common reason women cited for choosing to consume their placenta.

"While there is currently no evidence to support the efficacy of placentophagy as treatment for mood disorders such as postpartum depression, our study suggests that if neonatal infection from maternal consumption of the placenta is possible, that it is exceedingly rare," said study co-author Melissa Cheyney, a licensed midwife, medical anthropologist and associate professor at Oregon State.

Professors Benyshek and Cheyney say there does appear to be a small, dose-specific impact on maternal hormones after a mom ingested placenta, but that more research is needed. A previous study by Benyshek and UNLV researcher Sharon M. Young found no evidence that placenta capsules boost postpartum mood better than a placebo, but Cheyney says the work being done gives researchers " a foundation from which to further explore the impact of placenta consumption on postpartum mood disorders."

It might also give mothers who choose to consume placenta some peace of mind. The CDC does not recommend the practice, but many mothers do swear by it. If it's something you're considering it's important to talk about it with your healthcare provider, and if you do choose to partake in placenta encapsulation, it's important to do your research on placenta encapsulation providers.

Jodi Selander is the founder of Placenta Benefits.info, and created encapsulation standards that are used by practitioners and researchers around the world, including at UNLV. She previously told Motherly she recommends the placenta be steamed before it is dehydrated and made into capsules, as this reduces bacterial presence.

Whatever you choose, loop in your doctor or midwife to make sure you have all the information you need.

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Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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