Must We Read About Women Eating Their Own Placentas?

The Health & Science section of Tuesday's Washington Post threatened to ruin reader breakfasts by touting something that is not exactly a hot trend: how some women eat their own placenta after childbirth.

Freelancer Julie Wan relayed that "Web sites suggest using it in recipes like any other organ meat, pan frying it or cooking it in lasagna. Some strong-stomached mothers have used it raw in smoothies." Urp.

Is this really a trend worth celebrating? The story was advertised with a picture of actress January Jones:

If all this sounds a bit too cannibalistic, there are “placenta encapsulation specialists,” often midwives or doulas, who transform the placenta from its messy postpartum condition into neat, sometimes even flavored, pills. “Mad Men” actress January Jones told People magazine that she began taking placenta pills after giving birth last fall and credits them with helping her to bounce back quickly. “It’s not witchcrafty or anything! I suggest it to all moms,” she told the magazine. “Your placenta gets dehydrated and made into vitamins. It’s something I was very hesitant about,” but she ended up taking the pills daily.

Hospitals consider the placenta biohazardous waste and dispose of it as such unless an arrangement to keep it is worked out beforehand. Sibley Memorial Hospital in the District, for instance, provides a protective container in which to store the placenta if a mother asks. But with 3,500 births a year on average, the hospital has only had only two mothers make such a request in the last year and a half, hospital officials said. [So this is newsworthy?]

Doula Tabare Depaep is a placenta lady. She works out of her Annapolis kitchen, and said a placenta feels “like a big rump roast.” She doesn’t find it any worse than handling meat. (Depaep is a vegetarian.) “I actually feel warmer toward the placenta because it grew a baby,” she said.

The blogger The Mommy Psychologist promoted  her post under a Post link that concluded with her theory:

Here’s the thing: everyone in Los Angeles is obsessed with going green. There is a very strange competition that exists among the natives. The competition is called, “Who can be the most environmentally conscious, eat the most organic food, be as free as environmental toxins as possible, and engage in the most alternative health practices?” The war is on and Jones is trying to win.

She’s saying, “I’m so green, I eat my own placenta.” She wants the trophy. It’s certainly looking like she’s gonna take first place.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis