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Confinement tradition: Eating your placenta

You might have heard from your elders about the traditional practice of eating your placenta after giving birth, but does anybody even do that anymore? You’ll be surprised! Despite the “gross factor” of cooking the bloody red mass your baby essentially came out with, an increasing number of modern women are choosing to eat their placentas. These are modern, educated women from all cultures, including Hong Kong celebrities and the Hollywood actress January Jones. So, we did a little research of our own to find out: Why does confinement tradition recommend eating your placenta?

The tradition

The practice of eating placenta is thousands of years old and was once followed in countries such as China, Indonesia, Italy and the Czech Republic. The custom actually died away over time but has been revived over the last decade of so, especially in China and among certain groups in the West. Now it’s estimated that 10% of Chinese parents in certain hospitals take their placenta home for consumption, while more women in North America and Europe are also doing so.

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Benefits of eating your placenta

As the placenta was responsible for nourishing your growing fetus all those months, it’s thought to be rich in nutrients. Many mothers claim that the high amount of Vitamin B6, together with the hormone CRH, elevated their moods and protected them from suffering post-partum depression.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine experts believe that the placenta is a potent source of “Qi” that could nourish the body`s life force, slow down aging and even extend longevity. It is so highly sought after now in China that there’s even a black market for it!

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How to eat your placenta

There are actually multiple ways for eating your placenta — some prefer it raw, while others enjoy it cooked. Most women just find a way to make into a format that won’t make them gag. The traditional Chinese method is to boil the placenta together with herbs into a soup. The placenta can also be stewed or made into dumplings and meatballs to make it more palatable.

More modern methods include cutting it into bits and freezing the placenta, then blending it with fruit to drink as a smoothie. Others, like January Jones, have their placenta steamed, dried and turned into capsules to take just like a daily supplement. You can do this yourself at home by buying an encapsulation machine, or you can send it off to a local company like InTheWomb to do it for you.

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The risks

Eating your placenta is probably safe since it comes from your body, but you need to be careful how you store it to prevent spoilage. Cooking it is safer than consuming it raw. If you encapsulate it with herbs, be sure to ask what those herbs are as they may be very strong.

Also, only consume your own placenta. Never buy pills that are claimed to be made from someone else’s placenta. There are illegal dealers out there that apparently have made pills out of aborted babies. Now, that is truly gross!

Did you consume your placenta or are you considering it after you give birth? We want to know! Let us know in the comments below!

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