Things the Internet Suggests You Do With Your Placenta
Kim Kardashian is eating hers to ward off postpartum depression, but the uses don’t end there.
Screencap of Kim Kardashian West Official App: Rachel Pick
One of the world's most notorious new mothers, Kim Kardashian, just blogged about her experience eating her placenta, which was freeze-dried and packed into pill capsules.
On her app (which requires a paid subscription) Kardashian explained, "I really didn't want the baby blues and thought I can't go wrong with taking a pill made of my own hormones—made by me, for me."
The basic logic behind placentophagy is that since the placenta is a fetus' source of complete nourishment in utero, it must be healthy to consume—and it does contain iron and B12, as well as estrogen and progesterone. Proponents of placentophagy say the hormones in placenta could also help ward off postpartum depression. And they cite that placentophagy is a practice commonly seen in nature, where mammals will consume their placenta and afterbirth (although critics counter that this was likely developed as a practice to encourage hormonal bonding between mother and child, something that humans accomplish simply through our social habits).
The practice of new mothers eating their placenta has been around for a few years now, and has gained a modest amount of traction in the growing community of hippie parents. But Kardashian's endorsement is bound to give placentophagy even more momentum.
Kardashian reported positive results, saying in her blog post that she "felt so energized...every time I take a pill, I feel a surge of energy and feel really healthy and good."
However, there is no strong clinical evidence to support that eating your placenta makes much of a difference to your health, according to a 2015 review of the research by Northwestern University. Little research has been conducted, and the supposed positive effects are based mainly on personal testimonials. This 2011 feature from New York Magazine cites one study conducted in the 1950s that concluded placentophagy improved lactation—but notes that the study was later discredited.
But placenta-eaters stand to risk infection and illness, especially if they eat the stuff raw—which some have.
Brace yourselves, because it gets weirder. Here's a quick roundup of things actual people have done with their placenta after giving birth.
1. Make placenta prints. Create a piece of art by letting blood and afterbirth goo make its mark on a canvas or piece of paper. Maybe you can hang it in your child's nursery.
2. Make smoothies, chili, lasagna and truffles. These recipes were written by a doula and suggested by Women's Health magazine. I'd probably avoid a recipe that begins "Put on gloves if you'd like to use them," but that's just me.
3. Make a shirt for your child with placenta blood in a darkly hilarious sendup of Wilson, Tom Hanks' beloved volleyball in Castaway. The father who runs this blog notes that the process involves "[pouring] some blood into a bowl."
4. Get custom-made placenta jewelry. This website specializes in incorporating biological elements (including hair and breast milk) into jewelry that is actually pretty striking.
5. Make a teddy bear out of cured and tanned placenta. Made by designer Alex Green, I think this is the only such monstrous creation in existence, and the kit Green designed for you to make it yourself at home is no longer for sale. Thank god.
So if you choose to practice placentophagy, please consult your doctor first, and follow safe practices by only eating properly refrigerated and cooked tissue. And if you want to do something cute with it instead, bury it in the yard and plant a tree over it. Just don't make it into a stuffed animal, or you may be shelling out for a child psychologist a few years down the road.