Take That, Haters! 96% Of Women In Placenta Eating Study Had A Positive Experience


Two researchers at the University of Nevada Las Vegas decided to study one of the most controversial practices in the highly-fraught world of modern maternity care: placenta consumption. Their findings? 96% of placenta-eaters said they had a “very positive” experience.

Placenta consumption has become a more widely-known and popular practice in recent years, coming out out of the natural birth world and into the spotlight. January Jones ate her placenta and seemed to have a postive experience. Holly Madison gave birth just a few days ago and plans to ingest her placenta in pill form, too. Ingesting placenta has a host of reported benefits to new moms, including a reduction in postpartum depression, help with milk production and overall hormone balance after pregnancy.

The study performed by the researchers, Daniel Benyshek and graduate assistant Sharon Young, was a survey of 189 self-identified women from the US, Canada, Britain, Australia and Singapore. The study attempted to find out information about women’s placenta consumptions habits and responses. Unsurprisingly, according to the Las Vegas Sun:

The women in the study were overwhelmingly white, married, college-educated and were solidly middle- to upper-middle class. Most of the women had home births.

The vast majority of women ingested their placenta once, most of them through encapsulation (when the placenta is steam cooked and then ground into a fine powder which is then put into pills). The vast majority also reported positive experiences, with 98% of women saying they would do it again, and 96% saying they had a “positive” or “very positive” experience.

Critics of the practice say at worst, it can cause headaches or stomach problems and at best, is just a placebo. The medical community still seems to be adjusting to the fact that placenta-eating is something that educated mothers want to do; even alternative medicine pioneers like Dr. Andrew Weil have slammed the practice.

Up to now, most of the evidence in favor of placenta ingestion has been anecdotal, but hopefully this study can spur a more rigorous scientific inquiry. The UNLV researchers plan to conduct further study on human placentophagia, hopefully a placebo vs placenta study in the future, as well as more research into the nutrient and hormone content of placentas and why they might help women “bounce back” after giving birth.

I’m really glad to see some scientific research about placenta ingesting. I’m a doula and I’m pretty open-minded, so I don’t have a problem with the practice and I think it has the power to help women, even if that power can be attributed to the placebo effect (Whatever gets you through those first few weeks and months with a newborn is just fine in my book). If placentophagy is truly a beneficial practice, perhaps studies like this one can help people to see that it can be another, valuable option available to ease women into the often-tricky territory of new motherhood.

Photo: Flickr user mikeyfrecks

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    • Amber

      So are people “haters” because they don’t want to eat their own medical waste or because they think it’s gross that you do? Get a grip, nobody sane actually gives a damn about whether or not a bunch of hippie freaks chow down on their waste.

    • Myriam

      If 98% of people crossing a street have a good experiences doing so, would you say it it good to cross the street and beneficial to your health??? Even if the people say placenta eating helps them, you need a control group, and to take the placebo effect into account…

      • Myriam

        Also, “educated women” refers to a socioeconomic status, not their knowledge of medicine… The people who don’t vaccinate for fear of autism are also educated, even though Wakefield is just a fraud…

    • rebecca

      I think if you’re the type of person who would consider eating your own placenta you probably view it as a wonderful natural thing, so of course your going to have a great experience.i doubt picky eaters or squeamish types would report it as such under different circumstances. I mean, for most women its just a pill, so what’s the big deal as long as you can get over the fact that your ingesting something that came out of your cooter.now the ones who eat it as a meal are really crazy!;) bleeeech! But i do think a study on the actual benefits would be pretty awesome.

    • Eileen

      A positive experience doesn’t mean health benefits. I’m not trying to stop anyone from eating her own placenta if she wants to. Personally, should I be so lucky as to bear children of my own, that thing is getting donated for medical research, but hey, to each her own. The only thing I protest is women who share pictures of their placentae on Facebook (shoutout STFUP)

    • Bernadette

      Hannibal Lecter had a positive experience 96% of the times he consumed a human liver. Once it was slightly overdone and he had run out of fava beans. Another time it turned out the chianti was corked.