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What moms need to know about placenta consumption

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After my son was born, I was basking in gratitude to the universe for the baby I would soon be taking home when the doctor broke me out of my reverie and asked if I wanted to take my placenta home as well.


I declined, but the fact that he asked demonstrates what many in the birthing business already know: During the past few decades, more women have been choosing to keep and consume their placentas in the hopes of restoring hormonal balance in the postpartum period.

Placenta consumption is both an ancient practice and a current one. The practice of placentophagy has roots in Chinese medicine, though for purposes generally unrelated to postpartum recovery. These days, many women—including celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Nikki Reed—swear that taking pills made from their placentas boosted their postpartum mood and energy levels.

Yet physicians who study placentophagy say the science hasn’t yet caught up to the hype.

Sharon M. Young, a researcher at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV), says that many of the benefits women report seem to be valid. The question is whether that’s from a placebo effect or true physiological effect.

While that’s kept her from advocating for or against the practice of placenta consumption, some academics have come out against it: According to the authors of a recent report published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, placentophagy is potentially harmful and should be discouraged.

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This came on the heels of a widely publicized case that saw a newborn develop group B Streptococcus sepsis (GBS) after the mother ingested contaminated placenta capsules. The infant’s illness was not definitively proven to be caused by the mother’s placenta consumption, but still prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to advise against placenta capsule ingestion.

“There is no research to support placenta ingestion,” says infectious disease expert Dr. Genevieve Buser, lead author of the report on that case. She worries that women could do unintended harm to their babies by choosing to injest placenta.

She says because the placenta passes through the birth canal it can come in contact with Escherichia coli (E. Coli) and Group B streptococcus (GSB) which are sometimes present in a mother’s recto-vaginal area.

“Eating that contaminated placental tissue could then further expose the woman and her baby to those invasive pathogens. E. coli or GBS infection in newborn babies is very serious—even life-threatening—and can cause meningitis (infection in the spinal fluid and brain). These babies need to be hospitalized and treated with intravenous antibiotics in order to get better.”

Proponents of placentophagy say safety is key

Placentophagy proponents say total avoidance is unnecessary and may keep women from accessing something that could help them during the postpartum period. Jodi Selander, is the founder of Placenta Benefits.info, has been researching placentophagy for more than a decade. She created standards for placenta encapsulation that are used by encapsulators around the world, as well as in research at UNLV. Selander says there are safe ways to prepare and encapsulate the placenta while complying with food safety standards.

In the case where the infant contracted GBS, the person who’d made the placenta capsules dehydrated the organ from a raw state at temperatures not high enough to reduce the bacterial presence. Selander says she never recommends such a method; her own preparation procedure follows that of traditional Chinese medicine: The organ is steamed before it is dehydrated, an important step that should not be skipped.

Selander suggests mothers considering placentophagy seriously research the encapsulation methods of their proposed encapsulator. “I want women who are doing these preparations to understand that this isn’t something that you just play around with. You have to follow standards and protocols,” says Selander, who feels blanket statements against placenta encapsulation ignore the experiences of the many women who report positive results.

For many moms, it’s a worthy option

After the birth of her first child, Erin Martin took the placenta home in a biohazard box, and an encapsulator arrived soon after to process it (using a process different from Selander’s).

“We got the pills, and a tincture and placenta broth,” says Martin. “We got everything. We got a smorgasbord of placenta.”

Her partner made chicken fried rice with the broth and froze portions for her to consume throughout the postpartum period. Martin also took the capsules on a regular basis, although she declined to use the tincture, a liquid product made with alcohol that is said to be shelf stable.

According to Martin, taking the capsules seemed to make a difference in elevating her mood—but not so much that she did it again. For her next birth, she brought the placenta home just in case, but never followed through with getting it encapsulated. By the time her third child was born, she didn’t feel she needed the extra boost she got from the placenta pills.

“For my subsequent labor and delivery and postpartum experiences, I felt like I had a better handle on things,” Martin says, noting that she would still recommend placentophagy to other mothers, especially first-time moms. “If it makes you feel better about your experience, then do it, because anything that’s going to make you feel better is worth it. Even if it’s placebo-like, if you have something that’s working for you, hang onto it.”

Is it the placebo effect?

Even if the benefits come from the idea of the pill rather than the pill itself, UNLV researcher Young says there does seem to be a link between self-reported advantages. Young’s goal is to determine what’s the true cause of those benefits.

When Young and her colleagues analyzed the concentrations of different substances in placenta capsules, they found small amounts of minerals like iron and zinc. While the amounts of iron were not as high as some placentophagy proponents expected them to be, there were other interesting results as well.

“We also analyzed 17 different hormones in the placenta capsules,” she says. “And we found that processing the placenta by steaming it, dehydrating it and encapsulating it didn’t actually destroy the hormones in the way that we thought it might,”

According to Young, the hormones were present in concentrations that could potentially elicit physiological effects, but further research is needed.

Allow health care professionals to guide any decision

Placenta advocates and detractors agree: Women should talk to their health care providers before making a decision. New parents should also be aware of the risks associated with improper placenta capsule preparation.

In the debate over the science, one thing is clear: Many women swear by placenta encapsulation.“That’s valid and we need to listen to that,” says Selander.

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As mamas, we naturally become the magic-makers for our families. We sing the songs that make the waits seem shorter, dispense the kisses that help boo-boos hurt less, carry the seemingly bottomless bags of treasures, and find ways to turn even the most hum-drum days into something memorable.

Sometimes it's on a family vacation or when exploring a new locale, but often it's in our own backyards or living rooms. Here are 12 ways to create magical moments with kids no matter where your adventures take you.


1. Keep it simple

Mary Poppins may be practically perfect in every way, but―trust us―your most magical memories don't require perfection. Spend the morning building blanket forts or break out the cookie cutters to serve their sandwich in a fun shape and you'll quickly learn that, for kids, the most magical moments are often the simplest.

2. Get on their level

Sometimes creating a memorable moment can be as easy as getting down on the floor and playing with your children. So don't be afraid to get on your hands and knees, to swing from the monkey bars, or turn watching your favorite movie into an ultimate snuggle sesh.

3. Reimagine the ordinary

As Mary says, "the cover is not the book." Teach your child to see the world beyond initial impressions by encouraging them to imagine a whole new world as you play―a world where the laundry basket can be a pirate ship or a pile of blankets can be a castle.

4. Get a little messy

Stomp in muddy puddles. Break out the finger paint. Bake a cake and don't worry about frosting drips on the counter. The messes will wait, mama. For now, let your children―and yourself―live in these moments that will all too soon become favorite memories.

5. Throw out the plan

The best-laid plans...are rarely the most exciting. And often the most magical moments happen by accident. So let go of the plan, embrace the unexpected, and remember that your child doesn't care if the day goes according to the schedule.

6. Take it outside

There's never a wrong time of year to make magic outside. Take a stroll through a spring rainstorm, catch the first winter snowflakes on your tongue, or camp out under a meteor shower this summer. Mother Nature is a natural at creating experiences you'll both remember forever.

7. Share your childhood memories

Chances are if you found it magical as a child, then your kids will too. Introduce your favorite books and movies (pro tip: Plan a double feature with an original like Mary Poppins followed with the sequel, Mary Poppins Returns!) or book a trip to your favorite family vacation spot from the past. You could even try to recreate photos from your old childhood with your kids so you can hang on to the memory forever.

8. Just add music

Even when you're doing something as humdrum as prepping dinner or tidying up the living room, a little music has a way of upping the fun factor. Tell Alexa to cue up your favorite station for a spontaneous family dance party or use your child's favorite movie soundtrack for a quick game of "Clean and Freeze" to pick up toys at the end of the day.

9. Say "yes"

Sometimes it can feel like you're constantly telling your child "no." While it's not possible to grant every request (sorry, kiddo, still can't let you drive the car!), plan a "yes" day for a little extra magic. That means every (reasonable) request gets an affirmative response for 24 hours. Trust us―they'll never forget it.

10. Let them take the lead

A day planned by your kid―can you imagine that? Instead of trying to plan what you think will lead to the best memories, put your kid in the driver's seat by letting them make the itinerary. If you have more than one child, break up the planning so one gets to pick the activity while the other chooses your lunch menu. You just might end up with a day you never expected.

11. Ask more questions

Odds are, your child might not remember every activity you plan―but they will remember the moments you made them feel special. By focusing the conversation on your little one―their likes, dislikes, goals, or even just craziest dreams―you teach them that their perspective matters and that you are their biggest fan.

12. Turn a bad day around

Not every magical moment will start from something good. But the days where things don't go to plan can often turn out to be the greatest memories, especially when you find a way to turn even a negative experience into a positive memory. So don't get discouraged if you wake up to rain clouds on your beach day or drop the eggs on the floor before breakfast―take a cue from Mary Poppins and find a way to turn the whole day a little "turtle."

Mary Poppins Returns available now on Digital & out on Blue-ray March 19! Let the magic begin in your house with a night where everything is possible—even the impossible ✨

After a pregnancy that is best described as uncomfortable, Jessica Simpson is finally done "Jess-tating" and is now a mama of three.

Baby Birdie Mae Johnson joined siblings Ace and Maxwell on Tuesday, March 19, Simpson announced via Instagram.

Simpson's third child weighed in at 10 pounds, 13 ounces.

Birdie's name is no surprise to Jessica's Instagram followers, who saw numerous references to the name in her baby shower photos and IG stories in the last few weeks.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to experts.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

At this moment in time, Simpson and her husband, former NFL player Eric Johnson, are probably busy counting little fingers and toes , which is great news because it means Simpson's toes can finally deflate. She's had a terrible time with swollen feet during this pregnancy, and was also hospitalized multiple times due to bronchitis in her final trimester.

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We're so glad to see Simpson's little Birdie has finally arrived!

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Spring is officially here and if you're looking for a way to celebrate the change in the season, why not treat the kids to some ice cream, mama?

DQ locations across the country (but not the ones in malls) are giving away free small vanilla cones today, March 20! So pack up the kids and get to a DQ near you.

And if you can't make it today, from March 21 through March 31, DQ's got a deal where small cones will be just 50 cents (but you have to download the DQ mobile app to claim that one).

Another chain, Pennsylvania-based Rita's Italian Ice is also dishing up freebies today, so if DQ's not your thing you can grab a free cup of Italian ice instead.

We're so excited that ice cream season is here and snowsuit season is behind us. Just a few short weeks and the kids will be jumping through the sprinklers.

Welcome back, spring. We've missed you!

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No parent wants to imagine their child dying. To think that your little bundle of joy would pass away before they could live a full life is unfathomable. But when a parent does lose a child, it can feel like a shock to the system, and recovering is a life-long process we need to talk about.

In 2018 Catastrophe actor Rob Delaney revealed that his 2-year-old son Henry died after a long battle with brain cancer. This week, speaking at a fundraiser for families with seriously ill children, Delaney spoke candidly about how hard the last 14 months have been, the Evening Standard reports.

"I'm a mess. My child died 14 months ago and I'm basically a bag of wet rubbish. I need a lot of help. It has been very hard. It comes in waves. I've learned to not control how the waves come. Right now I'm sad a lot," he said, explaining that he shares this openly in the hopes that "if a bereaved parent or bereaved sibling reads this, I want them to know that it's okay that they feel terrible, sad, confused and so brutally humbled."

In a previous Facebook post about Henry's death, the 42-year-old comedian shared that Henry had been diagnosed with a brain tumor shortly after his first birthday, and had undergone surgery to remove the tumor, as well as additional treatment. But the cancer returned and he passed away shortly after.

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As a way to cope with his loss, Delaney wrote that he focuses his energy on his family—his two other sons and his wife, Leah. He said in his post, “I am astonished by the love-in-action displayed by Henry's mom and his brothers. They are why I will endeavor to not go mad with grief. I don't want to miss out on their beautiful lives. I'm greedy for more experiences with them."

Delaney's message about grieving is so important, especially for other bereaved parents. In that one statement, Delaney highlights one big, undeniable truth: How a parent decides to mourn the loss of their child is a deeply personal choice.

“Mourning is the outward or public expression of grief, a means of sharing grief with people who also are grieving or who want to support you," writes oncologist Dr. Edward Creagan for the Mayo Clinic. “Religious rituals, cultural traditions and personal beliefs often shape how we mourn.

Whatever form it takes, mourning is a critical process that can help you lessen the intensity of grief and help you adapt to your loss."

For Sandy Peckinpah, a certified grief recovery specialist, mourning the loss of her 16-year-old son meant turning to a journal. In an essay for HuffPost, Peckinpah writes that after her son's death from misdiagnosed bacterial meningitis, she felt as though her pain was “visible to others, and I would forever be wearing grief as a mask and a tagline... 'I'm Sandy Peckinpah and I've lost a child.'"

"Then a friend gave me a journal and said, 'Write. Just write,'" Peckinpah continues. On the first page, she could only write one sentence: “My son died and my life will never be the same."

“The next day, I wrote a paragraph, and each day after that I found words came more easily. My journal became my safe haven to empty the well of my sorrow, pouring tears of ink onto paper. And for a little while, I could let my emotions rest," shares Peckinpah.

Whether it's pouring yourself into your family or into a journal, there's one thing for sure: Grief is not a one-way street. Grief is a twisting, never-ending highway with exits and on-ramps and merging lanes and service roads.

Over time, your feelings of grief will subside or, at least, “feel less constant as if it's moved into the background of your emotions," Creagan writes. “But long after a death," he continues, “you may also find yourself caught off guard by a moment of profound grief, for example, on the anniversary of the death, during holidays or on your loved one's birthday."

In other words: You never know when the pain of your loss will hit you—or when you're even ready to move on.

And that's okay, bereaved parents. It's okay if you don't go “mad with grief"—and it's okay if you do. It's okay if you break down in your kitchen—and if you laugh at your friend's bad dad joke. Grief is not uniform.

But just remember: You don't have to walk this journey alone.

[A version of this post was first published February 12, 2018. It has been updated.]

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I say this as a sufferer: Peanut allergies are the worst. I learned I was allergic to peanuts when I was 13 years old, and although my allergy isn't severe, I choose not to bring peanuts or peanut products into my house. As a result, I was unable to expose my son to peanuts earlier in his life.

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