She handed me the BioHazard bag on the way out of the hospital room. “What’s this?” I asked. My daughter Ashley responded over the head of her newborn baby boy, “It’s my placenta.”
Oh gosh, back in the day when I walked out of the hospital with Ashley my placenta had been tossed out like the errant appendix or tonsil. What in the world did my sweet girl want with her placenta? I warily eyed the yellow bag swinging at my side and asked as discreetly as I could muster, “What are you going to do with your placenta? What should I do with it?” She had that feisty twinkle in her eye as she calmly asked me to put it in the freezer at home.
Later as I was admiring the baby fuzz on my new grandson’s sweet shoulders she said she was going to have it encapsulated so she could ‘eat’ it in pill form. Enthralled and distracted by cuteness overload I chuckled, “You’re kidding, right?”
She was serious. It’s a thing now. Women are eating their placentas.
She’s a mature adult, but I’m still her parent. The rules of parenthood have changed! When she was little I instructed and guided her decisions. Now I try to keep my opinions on certain things to myself. Like eating placentas. At the time I knew nothing about why women would do such a thing. Now that I’ve chased Google links around the internet I have opinions. I sorted through the novel info and tried to be discerning as I tried to figure out the why.
I looked in the Bible for references to placenta eating. I confess, I had to chuckle that I was looking for such a thing. Placenta eating? Just a tad crazy.
But that doesn’t change how I interact with my daughter.
As Christian parents, my husband and I tried to train our children to grow in their walks with the Lord and make their own decisions. Now that they’re adults we need to step back and respect the decisions they make and praise the Lord that they’re mature enough to make wise ones!
Back to that bloody placenta. Why eat it?
- Women think it helps ward off postpartum depression, so no more baby blues.
- Women think it helps with milk production.
- Women think they’ll have less fatigue, more energy, possibly because it’s a good source of iron.
Reasons not to eat your placenta:
- Research is inconclusive. Reasons to eat your placenta are often based on anecdotal evidence.
- The first mention of maternal placentophagy (scientific term for placenta eating!) in research was not until the 1970s. It’s not a longstanding cultural tradition like women are led to believe.
- The only mention of women eating placentas in the Bible is very negative. Check out Deuteronomy 26:56-57. “the most delicate and sensitive woman among you..will show no pity…even toward the afterbirth that comes from between her legs and towards the sons she bears, for she will secretly eat them because of the severity of the seige…” It was done in secret and only under the extreme duress of a siege, which indicates it was nothing to be proud of.
- Some women even equate eating a placenta as cannibalism which is defined as eating a body part. Is a placenta the woman’s or the baby’s? It’s a shared organ, a body part. To say placenta eaters are cannibals is a bit extreme.
But there is that.
Cannibalism noun the eating of human flesh by another human being.
Both my daughters chose to eat their own bloody afterbirth. They both chose to have it encapsulated. Want some even more creative ways to eat your placenta if that’s what you’ve chosen to do?
Most choose to encapsulate it, as if to disguise what it is in pill form. But some women choose to eat it in small raw chunks, sliding it down like oysters. Some toss a frozen chunk of placenta into the blender as they make smoothies. Really. Gulp. I found recipes online for pizza, using small pieces of placenta for the topping, or even using cooked placenta in Bolognese sauce or lasagna. People have made broth using placenta instead of chicken, or have even made truffles with placenta powder, cocoa and maple syrup. Oh gosh. For truffles, the placenta is ground up in a coffee grinder. I’ll never look at a coffee grinder without thinking about what else it can grind.
Does placenta taste exotic? More like beef they say, after all it looks like a liver! Not that I’ve ever tried it. Thank goodness. Women from some cultures buried the placenta at the roots of a fruit tree, then the next season ate the fruit or made tea from the fruit for symbolic ingestion. So today some women are planting their placentas at the base of a tree in their yard. Symbolic. I can go with that.
So what did I tell Ashley? I raised her to be an independent, mature adult and want her to be fulfilled and grow into the woman God created her to be. I want her to embrace the world and experience new things. If that includes eating her placenta, then I will stand back and keep my mouth shut! She will explore the world and learn just like I did, and make mistakes just like I did. No, I did NOT just say eating her placenta was a mistake. Really. I love being her parent and will respect her actions even when I disagree. Are you reading this Ashley? Ha, just now learning I had to keep my mouth shut? Yes, I can. Bon appetit.