Go ahead and ask a new mom what happened to her placenta after childbirth. Just don’t broach the subject in the middle of brunch. Once regarded as a fringe practice, eating placenta in capsule form entered public consciousness recently after celeb-moms Kim Kardashian and Mad Men’s January Jones sang its praises.
Placental tissue not only nourishes a baby in utero, it has hormone-regulating powers, too, with some researchers claiming that it can prevent postpartum depression. Cosmetics companies have been purchasing afterbirth from hospitals since the 1950s to use in wrinkle creams.
“My mother had the baby blues, and I wanted to be proactive,” explains Alana Sutherland, a registered massage therapist who kept her placenta after her C-section. “When I heard about [the practice] from friends, it made sense.
It really helped.” Demand for the service—in which the placental material is dehydrated, ground up, and inserted into pills—is growing and is offered by Rean Cross of Lucina Birth Services (206 Willow Ave., 416-737-4086) as well as Toronto Doula Group (647-231-0291).
Endorsements are still anecdotal: Scientists do not agree on the benefits and, to date, no controlled studies have been conducted.