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Eating placenta can "reduce postnatal depression"
Eating placenta can "reduce postnatal depression".
An article in the Evening Standard claimed there was a growing trend for “new mothers to turn to placenta ‘smoothies’ to ward off postnatal depression”. The article also included claims from a homebirth midwife who said:
“There’s more information coming out that it is beneficial and can reduce postnatal depression, for example, and increase milk supply.”
I contacted the hospital named in the article to see whether there was any evidence back up this claim – and whether the hospital itself had a policy on advocating placentophagy. I received a reply the same day saying:
“It's not hospital policy so it isn't something midwives would mention unless asked. The request would always come from the mother in the same way that some people ask to take the placenta away to bury under a tree etc. It's a personal choice.”
I was also told there was “a lot of information for and against the practice on the web” and directed to an article from the British Journal of Midwifery which concluded that evidence of benefits was lacking, but due to the increasing popularity “midwives should familiarise themselves with this practice”.
Finally I contacted the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) to see if it had any specific guidance. Janet Fyle, Midwifery Adviser responded later that day to say:
“There is no clear evidence for the current claims and until there is good scientific evidence for the claims, the RCM cannot endorse these claims or advise women to eat or convert their placenta into pills. However, the placenta belongs to the mother and she can chose to eat her placenta or otherwise.”
I'm still waiting to hear back from the midwife quoted in the article - but it looks there isn't much evidence at the moment and ultimately it boils down to patient choice.