Eating the Placenta: Why Would Anyone Do It?

Eating the Placenta: Why Would Anyone Do It?

Placentophagy, or ingesting your own placenta, is common in the natural world – and increasingly common in the celebrity world, with stars like January Jones and Alicia Silverstone giving eating the placenta a try. But are there truly benefits to the practice? Are there dangers? Would you do it? Let’s take a closer look.

Here’s my video overview on eating the placenta

Background on eating the placenta

In China, mothers have engaged in placenta consumption for thousands of years. It was meant to help them regain their energy, stamina and boost milk supply.

And there actually is some science to eating the placenta… it contains oxytocin, a hormone that reduces pain and increases bonding with baby, it also contains thyroid stimulating hormones, interferon and prolactin, which can boost the immune system, energy, recovery and milk supply.

Most mammals do it

As it turn out, humans are one of the only mammals on earth who don’t eat their placentas after giving birth. Some researchers say that this is because eating the placenta offers a biological advantage.

Critics argue that most mammals consume their placentas to hide traces of childbirth from predators in the wild.

Truth is, whether you’re for it or against it, very little research has been done on these advantages, but one study did find that rats who consumed their placentas had higher pain thresholds, among other benefits.

How people do it

So, do people just wolf down their placentas right after giving birth like other mammals do?

Well, some people actually do eat it raw. In rare cases they do right after birth, but usually folks will blend some in a smoothie in the first few days after birth.

Other people cook the placenta like they would any other organ meat, and eat it that way.

But the most popular and palatable option by far is to encapsulate the placenta. This usually involves steaming the placenta, then drying it, grinding it, and placing it into pill form.

My take on it

In talking with natural mamas in our community, I’ve heard great success stories. Moms who struggled with postpartum depression and/or low milk supply in the past said they’d avoided these problems by consuming their placenta. Other moms report feeling more energetic, less grumpy, and sounder sleep.

Other people have come out against it, reporting negative effects, and even coming out against the practice for moral reasons. One person even described it as cannibalism.

As a natural mama, I was intrigued. I didn’t do it with my first child, as I felt that we expelled the placenta for a reason. But I was still curious. What would it be like? Would it help? Would I feel better?

I figured I’d give eating the placenta a try.

Turns out, my birth doula is also certified to encapsulate placentas, and does so for $200. Sold!

Other posts in this series

Part 2: The placenta encapsulation process from start to finish.

Part 3: My experience eating my placenta.

What about you?

Did you try eating the placenta? Would you?


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  1. I had my placenta with my first encapsulated. I figured it couldn’t hurt even if I didn’t see huge benefits. Since that’s my only child so far I can’t compare to other PP experiences but I did have some postpartum anxiety that didn’t get bad until a week or two after my placenta pills ran out. Maybe coincidence? But I don’t really have a reason to not do it again next time in case it did help ward that off a bit.

  2. My encapsulator offers raw encapsulation, steamed then dehydrated or in the TCM tradition – steamed with herbs then dehydrated. Thoughts on which is best??

  3. Gross, gross, gross!! The placenta is a filtration device designed to protect the baby from toxins and pathogens, and there are no known health benefits of consuming it! Anecdotal evidence is not evidence since you can’t control for other factors. And animals only consume it for two reasons: it’s the only food source available to the mother (who just gave birth) and it needs to be consumed to avoid predators smelling the blood. Any other perceived benefits in animals won’t translate to humans, much like most healthy food for humans will be poisonous to animals. That sounds like too much risk for an unknown (if any) reward!

  4. I completely support eating the placenta/placenta encapsulation based on my 2 experiences. With my first child I had a rough recovery and was not at all prepared for the hormonal changes after delivery. I had breastfeeding issues and ultimately couldn’t deal with working through the issues, so I stopped much to my dismay. However with my 2nd pregnancy, I had the placenta encapsulated and started it by day 3. I noticed a huge different in my hormonal levels, milk supply, etc. It also gave me a ton of energy and I did sleep better. I did my research prior to having it done and I also had info from my SIL who is a doctor who used it after delivering both her children. Everyone has their own opinion about it and I respect those who do not agree with eating their placenta. It worked for me and I would encourage those who are interested to do their research first and to be open-minded.

  5. My awesome hubby encapsulated the placenta from our 3rd son, before then I had never heard of such a thing and probably would not have even considered it! But after doing extensive research together and speaking with other mommas who have encapsulated their placentas, we decided to give it a try. I can tell you there was a world of difference! My recovery time was super quick, my milk came in faster and my energy level was through the roof! I felt like superwoman!! I highly recommend encapsulation, my husband added alfalfa and fenugreek to the mix as well to support lactation – I ended up with 150 pills. BTW we are 36 weeks pregnant with our 4th son and are planning on encapsulation again.

  6. am placent

  7. fuk u get of mai websight

  8. I am not inclined to encapsulate my placenta, but as a real foodie, I am curious if the nutritional benefits would be similar to eating lots of organ meats or taking dried organ meat pills. Any thoughts? Anne

    • You site the Chinese as your source of wisdom, yet they also use bat and squirrel feces in remedies. Studies have shown there are no more nutritional or hormonal benefits of eating placenta, then there are in eating your own menses fluids or swallowing sperm ejaculations. Animals also lick their own vulva and swallow amniotic fluids while giving birth don’t they? You bring human to a low level of animals in your justification to eat your placenta. And if it were natural to us, an overwhelming sense to devour, would overtake ourselves upon seeing our placenta.

      • Easy Doris…

      • Sorry to disappoint you but humans ARE animals.

      • It just amazes me how ppl come up with evil things to justify what they do.In my opinion if a woman can eat her placenta you fall into the category of an animal.This world is so full of perversion.

    • i think that if u eat placenta as a side with liver u will liver forever

  9. I had mine encapsulated “just in case” and was very eager to take the first “dose” when I received the pills a few days after I gave birth to my first. There had been no changes to my breasts throughout pregnancy, and they remained unchanged 3 days after birth! Like a pair of total duds! 😉 Anyway, I’m sold on placenta consumption because an hour after taking 10 capsules I was engorged and ready to express some milk. I’ve never seen my breasts so full! Milk supply is still low but steadily increasing days later. Among other things I’ve also added fenugreek and beer for the hops (both regular and NA)

    Say a prayer that my milk will come in full-force soon and I can stop with this syringe supplementing! What a pain in the rear!

    • Good luck! I hope everything works out well!

    • Thought I’d update… Once my placenta pills ran out, so did my breastmilk! Given my milk came in an hour after I started taking the pills, I’m lead to believe the extra hormone bump was what allowed me to breast feed, if only for a couple weeks. Glad for that, even if it was very breif. My Dr says it is still unclear as to why some moms can’t breast feed or don’t produce enough milk. Must be linked to hormones.

      • Glad it helped you! Yes, I do think it’s the hormones that dry us out 🙁 and for each woman it is so different.

      • Why not try fenugreek or other natural lactation supplements when your placenta runs out?

  10. I did placenta encapsulation with my 3rd baby this past summer. I had post-partum depression with my 2nd baby, and it was like I was living in an emotional/mental fog for 5 months. This time around, I didn’t have any of those “blues” that I had with my 2nd baby. It made a world of difference, and I’m so glad I did it. I had the tincture made, too, for future hormonal imbalances.

  11. Thanks for this series! I am definitely intrigued. I’m always of the mind of trying out anything if it can’t hurt.

  12. I had to have an emergency c-section with my first, and due to my bone structure I was told I may need to have this type of delivery with future babies. How does placenta encapsulation work in the event of a c-section? Is it an option?

  13. I had an emergency c-section with my first, and my doctor suggested that due to my bone structure I will likely need c-section deliveries with future babies. How does placenta encapsulation work in the event of a c-section?

    • I had an emergency c-section too and told them, in the delivery room, that I wanted it. I put it in my birth plan as well. The hospital froze it at the nurses station until I went home. I imagine you could give it to someone who could get it to whomever is doing the encapsulation. Also, they may try to tell you they need the placenta for pathology but if that’s the case, they can take a very small piece and leave you the rest. It is yours, after all.

  14. You all do know there is absolutely no benefits from cannibalizing your placenta.

  15. I’m having trouble finding the other videos about placenta encapsulation. Are they posted somewhere? I’m very interested and have done a lot of research! 12 more weeks until my due date with our first baby!!!

  16. I’m curious if some of the nutrients and hormones are lost when you encapsulate it VS. doing a smoothie etc.? What do you all think?

  17. Lol, what a fucking lunatic, someone needs to confiscate those kids from you before they die.

    • How can you speak to another person with such disgraceful words? What could you possibly know about her home life to say such things? Please, drink some tea and calm down.

      • I often wonder, too, why someone who would disagree with such lack of respect is even doing reading or watching videos in a community such as this one. The internet does provide you the forum to be ten feet tall and bulletproof but often being so only proves the type of person you are. If you disagree, do so respectfully or troll somewhere else.

        • I completely agree. I just can’t imagine what someone must have gone through in life to make them so bitter and full of hate. I know the internet provides an overabundance of anonymity, but I just couldn’t say something like that to another person and sleep well at night – anonymous or not.

  18. youre fucking retarded. im 41 and this was popular in “natural circles” 25 years ago and beyond. you said it yourself, that its been going on for ages in china.
    three years ago? please. why dont you say that YOU just discovered this three years ago. also tell them how lame you are while you are at it.

    • I don’t think your attitude or your language is helpful or necessary with regard to the topic or the community. Also, she just discovered it herself 3 years ago- as in she didn’t know about it before them. Perhaps reading and watching carefully might lend itself to a better understanding of what is said.

    • Dear Lord you are a hateful person. You should also know that “retard” is derogatory and discriminatory; it’s about time YOU discovered that. Take your negative attitude elsewhere.

  19. Intrigued! Thank you for your article. I had hardly heard of such a thing but it spurred a conversation with my sister. She didn’t do it with her first pregnancy and had PPD. She had it encapsulated for her 2nd and have had nooo problems. What a blessing. I definitely plan on it for myself. It seems to me that God is providing new mothers with exactly what they need. My question is.. do you get the same effects with how its prepared? I wonder how people in old times figured the preparation out.. like if you cook your veggies to death you lose a lot of the nutrients. Who knows..

  20. Hi All:
    This topic is very interesting to me and I have been on and off about it since getting pregnant. I suffer from depression to begin with and have a great fear that PPD will hit me hard, anything that can help with that I am willing to try. Does anyone have any good websites of information/research I can begin to look into to help me make my decision on the matter? Additionally, any websites that I can look into about pricing for encapsulation here in Chicago?

  21. My husband lovingly cut my placenta up into about 12 small pieces and we froze them. I threw a piece into smoothies with lots of berries and honestly, never tasted it. Around day 3 postpartum, it was like night and day. My baby blues disappeared, I healed well and felt great. I never had any issues with milk production. In the following weeks/months, I had a smoothie whenever I felt down or drained and it really helped.

    I know it’s a hard one to wrap your brain around but I definitely recommend it, however you choose to do it!

  22. You only get one placenta per child. If you are able to, please get a CERTIFIED specialist to encapsulate your placenta for you. Someone who will come to your home to do it (as there are not facilities certified to offer such a service and anyone taking your placenta in order to process your pills is taking it to their homes to do it). Also, you want someone who knows how to properly handle raw meats (the placenta). If handled improperly, it can lead to illness, just like any meat products. is a wonderful resource for locating someone.

  23. It’s so fun for me to be due a few months after you (early February) – you’re posting all these topics right when I’m ready for them!! Can’t wait for the upcoming placenta videos

  24. Do you know what the religious view on consuming ones own placenta is?

  25. I wanted to but they had to send both placentas off to the lab. Had an abruption and pPROM with my daughter and a subchorionic hematoma with my son. 🙁

  26. I could never do it but I don’t have an opinion one way or the other for those who choose to do it. It’s none of my business :o) It just seems gross *for me*. Then again, I never even tasted my own breastmilk and I’ve had 3 babies! It just makes me gag to think about it. I didn’t think it was gross to breastfeed though, obviously, because I did it. Haha! I’m just not comfortable with things that come out of the body. Sweat and saliva also make me extremely nauseous….and blood makes me faint.

  27. Thank you Genevieve for bringing this important topic out for discussion and especially for demystifying it. I didn’t do it myself although I kicked the idea around. I am very intrigued by the health benefits anecdotally reported and am heartened by how well is has helped women. I appreciate learning from the sisters chiming in. Education and choices are important. People can make informed decisions in conjunction with their personal criteria, which I feel is too personal to impose on anyone else or their choices, no matter what one’s stance may be. Good reminder for myself.

    I wonder about the “cannabalism” point of view. Can that really be applied to a product of one’s own body?

    The one thing I did do was ask my doula to take a few pictures of my placenta after I birthed it because it was a thing of beauty, and I was so proud of it! Good work, placenta!

  28. I was one of those women who needed medication after my delivery of our first child last December. I would be interested in seeing how it helped you out. My only concern would be the cost. Mama, what was the ballpark figure for this “procedure” on your placenta?

  29. I’m so glad you posted this- ruffling feathers out there, I’m sure. I’m currently pregnant with my third baby after having 2 natural births (second at home) and having bleeding problems after both. I’m planning to have another home birth but my midwife has declared eating the placenta as mandatory for me because of my tendency for low hemoglobin and bleeding issues. She also convinced me to skip encapsulation and just do the smoothie method to save money and get the most of it because it’s raw that way. I’m a little grossed out by the idea but she assured me (as well as many other women who’ve done it) that when it’s blended and frozen into cubes, then added to a berry smoothie, you don’t taste a thing. She also told me crazy stories about how it has helped her patients- like miraculously. With my first I didn’t even consider it- way to “crunchy” for me. With the second I was interested but not convinced because I’m a total traditional foods girl and don’t have any emotional issues or milk supply issues and didn’t think I needed to do it. (I planted that placenta in the garden.) This time I’m going to do it! Excited to see what happens…and excited to see how people react to the idea- haha! I have a grandmother who thinks breastfeeding is disgusting, so this will be a dilly of a conversation starter. 😉

  30. I’m currently 38 weeks with my second, and I’m planning on doing the placenta encapsulation… I did not do it with my first, but I’ve heard of the great benefits of it and I think to my self that it wouldn’t hurt to try 🙂

  31. I did encapsulate mine and looking back I did feel good when I was taking the pills. I felt less stressed and less tired! I wish my placenta would have yielded more but such is life! I say it can’t hurt so why not?!

  32. I am so incredibly relieved that you are doing this series, I am so interested in placenta encapsulation, I haven’t yet found anyone here in New Zealand That does this but I am looking. I am 14 weeks pregnant with my second child and with my first I had issues with my milk supply, I had terrible baby blues and post natal depression and I ended up giving up after 2 months, but this time around I really want to make sure I do everything I possibly can to be able to successfully breast feed this child for as long as I can. I have subscribed and I look forward to your review on this topic, THANK YOU! xox


  33. I did this with my first child so I don’t have any comparisons, but I had very minimal bleeding, my hormones never got out of control, my milk supply was perfect, my mood never dipped, and my energy levels were high. I didn’t know anyone my age that had done this, my decision was based on research (and instinct) only, but I would recommend this to every woman. I encapsulated my placenta, and I also consumed a small piece that was blended into a fruit smoothie directly after birth – I don’t eat any meat but there was no way knowing that there was anything unusual in my smoothie.

  34. I’d love to know how it goes as well! Very intriguing! I was certain with my first that I’d never, ever do this but I’ve thought about it for next time around! Why not try it!?

  35. I did placental encapsulation because I suffer from anxiety and depression. I was also worried about breastfeeding as my mom “couldn’t” with me. I didn’t notice a huge difference in my mood when I took placental pills but I never suffered from babies blues and had no problems with milk supply. Would that have happened without the placenta pills, I don’t know. But it certainly didn’t hurt.

  36. Thank you for posting on this topic! I had HORRIBLY low milk supply and terrible PPD with my first child. I encapsulated with my second and it was a lifesaver. And the in hospital “birth center” that she was born in is horrible about losing birth weight so I was up all night the night before my discharge nursing her both sides them pumping both sides then trying to bottle feed her what I had pumped then nursing again just so they’d release HER. Our son was born at home this past April and my friend/doula took mine from seconds after it I birthed it and I had pills in me before nightfall. She also was AMAZING and made me tea with the water to help get the benefits in me ASAP. I, too, have been told I am a cannibal. But at this point, we’re the “weird” ones anyway so I let it roll off my back. At $200 and tax deductible it was the best decision for my health and my children I have ever made. And I have EBF my 2nd and 3rd children with no problems thanks to my pills. Again, thank you for taking on all these topics that so many are afraid to discuss!!

  37. I’m also do in March, with my first, and I plan on encapsulating. Really interested to hear your take on it!!

  38. After researching I had mine encapsulated because the benefits were just so numerous. I must say I was very surprised with the results. This was my first baby & I felt that I had so much energy—a word of caution though- I didn’t rest nearly as much as I should have because I felt so good. My milk supply has been really good~ I even have a freezer full of surplus milk! Emotionally I know it really benefited me. I am quite an anxious person & have melancholy tendencies, so I was really concerned about experiencing postpartum depression. I didn’t have any! When taking placenta pills you are supposed to taper off after several weeks. I must say I really felt the effects when I did & so I continued taking mine a bit longer. My baby will be 3 mo next week and I think we are doing great!

  39. I didn’t do it with my first, but did encapsulation with my second. I encapsulated it myself to save on money (and it’s actually quite easy to do!)

    I definitely felt a difference! Had a much easier time with milk production this time around, more energy, healed faster from tearing and just felt more like myself overall. I highly recommend it!

    • Is there any info out there about encapsulating it yourself? I live in Paraguay and there are no places here that do it. Any info will be helpful! Thanks!

      • You can buy kits on line if you have a google. Good luck!

  40. I had my placenta encapsulated for my third pregnancy, I also drank a small amount in a smoothie. I can honestly say that I felt amazing after my second and third daughters birth , but I attribute that more to my whole food diet, so I don’t know if it did anything or not, but my milk supply was great and I didn’t have the baby blues.

  41. My midwife here in Hawaii recommended that I encapsulate my placenta. She rinsed it and froze it so it would be ready when I was to dry it out and start the process. I was kinda grossed out while doing it, but I do believe that it did help me out during my recovery. This was my second pregnancy and I had some marital issues and was overwhelmed with also taking care of my 5 year old, and was having some hypothyroid problems, and the placenta really helped out. I still have some left and am thinking about taking some on those days when I’m felling hormonal and stressed. Thanks for the informative post!

  42. I am considering it with my 2nd. With my 1st I mentioned it to my Dr and husband and they thought I was crazy. I do think it would be beneficial, but I’m delivering in a hospital so I’m not sure how I would get it encapsulated. I wont want to encapsulate it myself.

    • There are people that are trained to do it. Check out local doulas.

  43. I had mine encapsulated and though it was my first, I felt like I bounced back to my old self within in no time. I think it helped mostly with energy level (consuming all the micronutrients left in the placenta) and helped balanced my hormones back to normal. I felt very bonded with my daughter, so maybe the oxytocin helped too. Overall, really healthy experience.

  44. Yay! I can’t wait to see the rest of the videos.
    I encapsulated mine and I felt great! I had my rough moments those first few weeks, but never really got depressed or bad anxiety (which I tend to get).
    As a bonus, I got a tincture made from it as well that I can use for a long time afterwards for those PMS times and times when my anxiety is a little high.

    I wish I could encourage those around me to do it, but sadly it’s still too weird and gross to the general public. I actually didn’t even tell my family or in-laws. How do you explain something like this when even wanting to have a natural birth was crazy? We’re already too weird for them;D

    • Haha! Yes, this is definitely out of many people’s comfort zones 🙂

  45. I don’t know if I will the second time around… I felt pretty good with baby #1. I don’t have much more time to decide. If I do, it will be based on the best data available. The bible isn’t a definitive science book, so I will definitely NOT be basing my decision on that since there wasn’t an abundance of knowledge at that time. Just because the bible doesn’t mention it, doesn’t mean placental consumption didn’t exist.

  46. I wouldn’t it raw or fried. I don’t eat other animals organs either. I look to the Bible for my source and they didn’t eat or consume human body parts. So no I wouldn’t, to each their own I guess.

  47. I’m so glad you’re doing a series on this topic! I thought placenta encapsulation was the weirdest and grossest thing when I was pregnant with my first and no way was I going to do it. But, I had lots of maternal health issues after her birth and after that humbling experience I definitely plan on going for placenta encapsulation when I have my second without a doubt, even if it’s pricey! I’ve heard soooo many positive things about the benefits and hope it works for me too!

    • That’s exactly my situation. With first child, didn’t want to do it. I thought the body expelled placenta for a reason. This time, I wanted to give it a try based on all of the AMAZING feedback I received from other mamas that took placenta pills.

    • To address the opponents of placentophagy such as the link Eek565 I can only respectfully acknowledge those who feel led that it is immoral. For those women it is absolutely something they should avoid.

      However, I am a mama who experienced SEVERE ppd and anxiety with my first child. It was the most terrifying experience of my life and the prescription medications it required to bring me back to any stability were even more terrifying. The side effects were increased anxiety, extreme difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, nasal congestion, weight gain, an altering of my sense of taste so that everything tasted bitter, loss of libido and the list goes on.

      As some would argue there is no Biblical basis for ingesting the placenta, I would also argue there is no Biblical basis for ingesting powerful drugs that cause such mind clouding side-effects (although I do believe God uses those powerful drugs every day to bring healing, I don’t believe they are a part of His preferred prescription for any believer’s overall health).

      After over a year of putting up with the side effects of depression and anxiety meds which did cloud my Christian walk significantly (not to mention my marriage – loss of libido is a serious hindrance to a thriving marriage) I knew I had to find another way. I prayed for discernment, sought out Christian holistic caregivers and have not looked back.

      Placental encapsulation was one of a large number of natural means I used in attempt to replenish and support my body through my second postpartum period. And it was a night and day difference for me. It wasn’t entirely because of placental encapsulation, but it most certainly wasn’t an immoral decision on my part to do my best with the information at hand to try my best never to be on those “mood stabilizing” drugs again.

      Every believer answers ultimately only to God. I cannot judge what one person believes they are led to by God and I cannot bend my own convictions for others who may believe that my choices for my physical health were immoral when I was convicted they were God-led decisions. Would I encapsulate my placenta again? Absolutely. Unless the Lord Himself prompted me otherwise, and yes it is a decision I would bring before Him again for that opportunity.

      Blessings to you Genevieve! Thanks for covering this topic. It’s always interesting to see your take on things.

      • Amen!

      • Thank you for sharing this. It was truly helpful and insightful to get a grounded Christian’s opinion. I am currently wrestling with this issue even though I am currently not pregnant but my husband and I are starting to talk about trying for number 2 soon.

      • Tara, thank you for addressing the importance of seeking out God and praying for guidance (or discernment) when making an important decision like this! I think Christians can sometimes get too caught up in what the Bible does or does not say and forget that we have a loving Heavenly Father who knows our needs and will answer our prayers.
        I am happy that people like you still follow your convictions and stand true for what you know is right.

        I believe placental encapsulation can be the right answer for everyone, including Christians. I have not had any children yet myself, but when I do, I will definitely be trying this. I have struggled with generalized anxiety, depression and PTSD since my childhood because of abuse. I have a service dog because of it. I know these are problems I will have for the rest of my life, and hormones (from menstruation) already aggravate my mental status at times.
        I tried modern medicine, I have taken several antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. They do not help me, and quite honestly they make me become someone other than myself. I become suicidal, numb, irritable, lethargic and would have a decrease in libido.

        I have a much more fulfilling life without medication than I ever did while I was taking them. I can interact with other people regularly when I’m off medication. I will definitely use a natural, and I would venture to say God-given gift such as placental encapsulation over drugs when the times comes.

  48. I’m so excited to hear your take on this. I’m due with in March and have been doing my own research too. Cannot wait to hear your opinion!

    • honestly, i’m glad to hear it’s encapsulated. the thought of the capsule opening n placenta bits being in my belly is still strange for me, but i thought the women like bite into the placenta..this was at least informative, even if i couldn’t fathom doing it myself. good that it’s helpful to others.

    • Another Melissa due in March here! 😀
      First baby, and all set for placental encapsulation! Why not, right?!

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