Tom Cruise once made the front pages by joking that he was going to eat the placenta of his then fiancee Katie Holmes when she gives birth. Who knows, he may actually have done so unless Katie got to it first.
Some women seem to believe that eating their own placenta is a natural way of dealing with the fairly common post-partum depression. It’s also been claimed that the afterbirth holds beneficial nutritional properties. They call it Placentophagia.
So it’s a common practice among mammals, and after all, women are mammals too. However, this seems to be just one of those crazy “folk remedies”. It may actually work if you want it to work.
“The placenta does produce estrogen and progesterone,” says Mavis Schorn, the director of the nurse midwifery program at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. “So the theoretical idea is that it may help, but there’s absolutely no research on it.”
Supposed health and psychological benefits aside, how would you even take a bite out of it? Isn’t this somewhat akin to cannibalism?
Placentophagia has been around for centuries all over the world. In Hawaii there’s a tradition that the placenta should be planted with a tree and in Malaysia it is common to give it to the parents who will then bury it.
Curiosity made me google for some placenta recipes and here’s some I found:
1-3lb fresh placenta (must be no more than 3 days old)
1 green or red pepper (green will add colour)
1 cup tomato sauce
1 sleeve saltine crackers
1 tspn bay leaves
1 tspn black pepper
1 tspn white pepper
1 clove garlic (roasted and minced)
(Preheat oven to 350 degrees)
1. Chop the onion and the pepper & crush the saltines into crumbs.
2. Combine the placenta, onion, pepper, saltines, bay leaves, white and black pepper, garlic and tomato sauce.
3. Place in a loaf pan, cover then bake for one and a half hours, occasionally pouring off excess liquid.
4. Serve and enjoy!
1 fresh, ground, or minced placenta, prepared as above
2 tblspns olive oil
2 sliced cloves garlic
1/2 tspn oregano
1/2 diced onion
2 tblspns tomato paste, or 1 whole tomato
Method: use a recipe for lasagne and substitute this mixture for one layer of cheese. Quickly sautÃ© all the ingredients in olive oil. Serve. Enjoy!
Placenta Spaghetti Bolognaise
1 fresh placenta, prepared as above
1 tblspn butter
1 large can tomato puree
2 cans crushed pear tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 tblspn molasses
1 bay leaf
1 tblspn rosemary
1 tspn each of: salt, honey, oregano, basil, and fennel
Method: cut the placenta meat into bite-sized pieces, then brown quickly in the butter and olive oil. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 1-1.5 hours.
But the placenta can also be used to make art, loads of pregnancy websites discuss the idea and share information on how to use the afterbirth to make prints and patterns on paper. Wonder if there’s anyone out there sending “placenta Christmas cards”, if it looks like placenta and smells like placenta, you should be suspicious.