Should New Moms Eat Their Placenta?
Kim Kardashian West shared she's once again taking placenta pills after the recent birth of her second child, Saint.
Kim Kardashian West shared she's once again taking placenta pills after the recent birth of her second child, Saint. In a new post on her website, the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star says she found success staving off postpartum depression with the pills after welcoming North, and "definitely had to do it again."
“I had great results and felt so energized and didn’t have any signs of depression,” she explained in the post, as reported by People. "Every time I take a pill, I feel a surge of energy and feel really healthy and good. I totally recommend it for anyone considering it!”
For the unfamiliar, the concept of eating the placenta—the organ that develops during pregnancy to provide nutrients to the fetus via the umbilical cord—is to fill up on the helpful hormones it contains that drop in the days and weeks after birth. Why? Proponents of the trend claim it can not only help alleviate postpartum depression, or "baby blues," but it may also boost energy and breast milk production, and even speed up your post-pregnancy slim down.
And Kardashian isn't the only fan; celeb moms including January Jones, Alicia Silverstone, and Transparent star Gaby Hoffmann have also done the placenta-eating deed. (Hoffmann blended her's into smoothies!)
But is it actually healthy or hype? Health's contributing medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, previously weighed in on the matter. Her verdict: While there are many anecdotal accounts from women having beneficial experiences eating it up (cue Kim K.!), there's no scientific research to back them up. And other experts agree. Earlier this year, a team of researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago pored over accumulated research about ingesting placenta and concluded there isn't a single scientific benefit of eating placenta.
What's more, those researchers said no studies exist that examine the risks associated with eating placenta. According to Dr. Rajapaksa, you could theoretically end up eating harmful substances that could lead to an infection because the placenta acts as a filter during pregnancy, removing waste and keeping bacteria away from the baby. The risks may be even greater if the placenta isn’t frozen or refrigerated within an hour or two after giving birth, or it's mishandled during that time period.
Are harmful side effects of eating placenta very likely? Probably not. But without hard scientific evidence to argue for or against the after-birth ritual, it may just result in a placebo effect either way.