Placenta Pills to Treat Postpartum

With Amalie asleep, Leilani is texting friends and family
Creative Commons License photo credit: Lars Plougmann

Recently, many new mothers are turning to placenta pills as a means of combating postpartum depression. Sound strange? Would it sound even stranger if you knew that the placenta pills are made from the mother’s own placenta?

Placenta pills are made using a fairly simple process:

  1. The mother’s placenta is obtained. While doctors and hospitals may find this kind of request odd, they rarely deny it.
  2. The placenta is washed thoroughly. This removes any blood.
  3. The placenta is dried. This is done using a typical dehydrator like many of us already have in our kitchens.
  4. The dried placenta is ground to fine powder.
  5. The powder is poured into caplets.

Many of those who take placenta pills to stave off postpartum testify that it has helped them to return to normalcy. Others, particularly those in the medical field, are a bit more skeptical.

One such skeptic is Dr. Deborah Kim. A psychiatrist in Pennsylvania, Dr. Kim cautions that failing to treat postpartum depression can have very serious consequences. Dr. Kim acknowledges that ingesting the placenta isn’t likely to do any damage. She is also careful to point out that there is no real clinical research or testing to back up the theory that eating the placenta relieves symptoms of depression.

Most of us probably recoil at the idea of eating our own placenta. But it’s not as strange as it may sound on the surface. In all the animal kingdom, human beings are just about the only ones who don’t eat their placenta shortly after giving birth. There are a number of reasons given for mammals eating their placenta:

  • It has been shown to accelerate milk production.
  • It is believed to reduce the stress associated with birth.
  • Eating the placenta helps the mother and young to avoid predators, by eliminating traces of life which a predator might use to track them.

Chances are, you don’t have any predators to worry about, but the other two reasons may be enough to convince you to try placenta pills. Worst case scenario, it’s a little gross and they do you no real harm. Best case, they may help you avoid or alleviate postpartum depression. Just don’t use them as a substitute for your doctor’s counsel.

What are your thoughts? Would you try placenta pills to treat postpartum depression?

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