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The Pros and Cons of Eating Placenta

The thought of eating a baby's placenta after birth may make your stomach churn, but some women say they feel better after doing so. Knowing the facts will help you determine whether or not you should eat placenta.

You might know that some people do eat their baby’s placenta, which is a structure that provides oxygen and nutrients to unborn babies during growth and development in their mother’s uterus. The placenta also removes waste products from babies in utero. Placenta can be eaten raw, cooked, or in capsule form. While placenta is loaded with nutrients and is beneficial for babies, you may be left wondering if eating this organ is really a good idea.

Are There Benefits?

Benefits of eating a baby’s placenta after birth are mainly anecdotal and not backed by research. A 2015 review published in Archives of Women’s Mental Health reports that reasons women eat placentas after giving birth include post-partum depression and pain relief, enhanced recovery after giving birth, hormone regulation, increased milk production, and improved nutritional status.

However, authors of this review suggests that while women who ate placentas believed it was beneficial for them, further research is needed to determine if this strategy does indeed provide health benefits — and if it’s a good idea.

Potential Drawbacks

While eating placenta is perceived beneficial by some women, this ritual may come with drawbacks as well. There is a risk of getting sick from raw placenta if it gets contaminated with bacteria or viruses. Another potential drawback includes ingesting environmental toxins that can accumulate in placenta after it filters such contaminants, according to a 2012 review published in Ecology of Food and Nutrition. There may be other risks associated with eating placenta that aren’t known due to lack of sufficient research.

Bottom Line

Some women claim they feel better and are more energized after eating placenta but this could be due to the placebo effect. Benefits of eating placenta are anecdotal and aren’t backed by research, but future studies could prove otherwise. There are potential risks of eating placenta as well. Chances are, eating placenta likely won’t harm you — especially if it’s dried, cooked or encapsulated — but it may not offer you any health benefits either.

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