In my page entitled “The Placenta and the Umbilical Cord”, I talk about the practice of having the placenta made into capsules for maternal consumption. The practice of eating the placenta, or placentophagy, has been around for centuries. The placenta pills are supposed to help with maternal fatigue, breast feeding, and postpartum depression.
In early July 2017, a case was published in the electronic medical journal, “Doximity”, which involves eating the placenta. This is one case, and I inform you about this so that you can make up your own mind regarding the benefit versus risk of eating the placenta.
In 2016, an infant was born to a patient in Oregon. The providers believe that the infant became infected with strep at the time of delivery when the infant passed through the birth canal. Your provider has probably discussed the potential hazards of Group B Strep (GBS) to your infant. This is why the provider performs a GBS culture at 34 to 36 weeks gestation. If your culture is positive, you will be treated with antibiotics prior to the birth of the child. Sometimes, the birth may occur so quickly that the antibiotic course may not be completed. In this case, the infant was appropriately treated following the delivery, and then sent home.
A few weeks later, the infant again became infected with strep. The providers suspected that the second infection was related to the mother ingesting placental pills. A culture of the placenta pills revealed that the pills were infected with strep. Even though the placenta was processed by a company versed in making placenta pills, apparently the strep was not completely eliminated. There have been studies that show that bacteria and viruses are not always eliminated from the placenta before the placenta is made into pills.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) got involved with this investigation, and felt that the infant’s infection was related to the placenta pills. The CDC felt that the maternal ingestion of placenta pills was potentially dangerous, but did not issue a formal statement condemning the practice.
Most obstetricians feel that the practice of eating the placenta is unsafe, and much of the popularity of eating the placenta is due to celebrities (Kourtney Kardashian and January Jones) talking favorably about this. I would highly recommend that you discuss the issue of eating your placenta if you are planning to do so. I would also recommend that you do your research and decide whether eating the placenta is for you or not.
Wishing you a safe and uncomplicated delivery, Pablo.