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Eating your placenta might be natural, but it won’t prevent postpartum depression

Posted May 3, 2019

Many natural things are kind of disgusting to us. Our cultural traits make it so that we are disgusted by bodily liquids, we hate seeing gruesome images and we can’t stand strong body odour. Meanwhile our ancestors were defecating openly, hunting and slaughtering animals, going to wars wielding swords and eating their placentas. Oh wait, some women still eat their placentas.

Many women decide quite early to eat their placenta because of perceived mental health benefits. But there is no science supporting that idea. Image credit: Michelle Tribe via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

Sorry, but we are allowed to say it – it is gross. But it is not hurting anyone, so more power to you if you decide to consume your placenta after giving birth. In fact, it is a growing trend. People believe that placentas have many health benefits, which could be why many animals are eating them. When doctors ask new mothers, why they want to eat their placenta, many answer that it is going to help their mental health. Many women suffer from postpartum depression, so it all makes sense, right?

Well, no. A new study from the University of British Columbia showed that eating your placenta provides no mental health benefits. Scientists analysed data from a 10-year genetic study involving 138 women with a history of mood disorders. Then they compared the data of women who had eaten their placenta to those who hadn’t. And, as you’ve probably already guessed, scientists found no real mental health benefits of eating placenta. Not even placebo effect. It simply doesn’t do what some women believe it does – you are as likely to suffer from postpartum depression regardless if you eat your placenta or not.

Here is a thing. Nature is wild. Animals are always struggling to meet their physiological needs. They need protein, water and food, which are not always easily obtainable. Not to mention medicine. We are not animals. Whatever you could get from eating your placenta, you can get in other ways. Not only that, but eating placenta can lead to health problems.

Jehannine Austin, lead investigator in the study, said: “Given the health risks associated with consuming your placenta, and the absence of detectable benefits, we strongly recommend women do not, and instead look to other mental wellness resources”. This, of course, is not going to stop some women from doing this and again – they have a right of eating their placentas if they want to. However, in situations like this you should always consult your doctor and follow his guidance.

We are not living in the wild anymore and some actions are not considered to be weird or even kind of disgusting. Bu these mental health concerns are real. If a woman is afraid of potential hit her mental health is going to take, she should consult her doctors – they’ve seen it all and can provide all the necessary help.


Source: UBC

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