It wasn't until fairly recently that the practice of placenta eating, called placentophagy, entered mainstream conversation. And for that, we can thank some bold-faced early adopters, aka. celebrity moms. But for every handful of new moms who are grossed out at the thought of eating their own placenta, there's one who swears by its ability to ease some common postpartum woes, like milk supply, depression, and low energy. For its part, though, the medical community isn't convinced of its benefits and don't officially recommend it for new moms.
Katherine Heigl and her husband Josh Kelley welcomed baby boy Joshua Bishop Kelley Jr on December 20. The Grey’s Anatomy alum worked with a naturopath throughout her pregnancy, and says she’s been happily popping placenta pills since just after her C-section, when another mother down the hall in the hospital passed along the name of a company that freeze-dried pills. “This guy came, he was a total cowboy: Cowboy hat, cowboy boots … and a bag of placenta!” she told People magazine. “He took it to his wife who freeze-dried it and turned it into pills and I’ve been taking them.”
Her life may be the stuff of an E! ratings sweeps, but even K-Dash can use some help keeping up with her three kiddos. After baby Reign was born in the winter of 2014, the reality star started popping pills of her freeze-dried placenta. In fact, Kourtney is such a fan that she posted a photo of the pills on Instagram, along with the caption: "Yummy...PLACENTA pills! No joke...I will be sad when my placenta pills run out. They are life changing! #benefits #lookitup." (After the birth of Saint West, Kim confirmed that she's following in her big sister's footsteps and ingesting her own after birth as well.)
"Mad Mom?" ABC News wondered this about January Jones after the Mad Men actress revealed she ingested her own placenta in pill form. The mom of one credited it—along with a doula-approved diet, vitamins, and teas—for helping her return to set a mere seven weeks after giving birth to son Xander in 2011. As if sensing the forthcoming whiplash, she enthused to People.com, "It's not witch-crafty or anything! I suggest it to all moms!"
If you're going to give your twin sister a taste of your own afterbirth, you might as well make it interesting, right? At least, that's what we imagine went through Tamera Mowry's head when she served her sib Tia some brandy with a splash of placenta in 2013. Before the, er, cocktail went down the hatch, Tia shrieked, "Oh my God, I see residue!" (though afterward, she admitted that it's "kind of good.")
If "Have a good placenta recipe?" becomes as popular a question as "What do labor pains feel like?" we can credit Gaby Hoffmann. After giving birth to baby Rosemary on November 19, the quirky-cool Girls actress asked her doula and midwife to chop up her placenta into 20 pieces and freeze them. Then, each day for the next three weeks, she added a chunk to a fruit smoothie every day to boost energy and milk supply. "Placenta, placenta, placenta," she told People.com. "Just eat that s--- up, and it does a girl good!"
After seeing Silverstone chew up food for her then one-year-old son, Bear, no one batted an eye when she dished about chomping on her placenta. To be fair, the pills were a gift, and she figured, This came from my body—what the heck? It was love at first swallow. "I've got to the point that my husband said, 'Did you have your happy pills today?'" Silverstone said on Live! with Kelly and Michael. "And I was really sad when they were gone. It really helped me."
If any mom has come under fire for her parenting choices, it's Bialik. The Big Bang Theory star has gotten flack for bedsharing, natural birth, breastfeeding her three-year-old and, yup, eating her own placenta. (#hatersgonnahate) She faced the critics head on in a frank and honest blog post, writing: "Human beings are the only mammals that have chosen to not routinely ingest their placenta, which is consumed by every other mammal for its protein and iron-rich properties that are critical in helping the mother's body recuperate after giving birth. End of story."
Our expert shares what you can expect about your placenta—during and after birth!
Placentophagy was on Madison's mind even before she gave birth to daughter Rainbow. "This might sound gross, but I'm totally planning on having my placenta turned into pills I can take after giving birth," she wrote on her personal blog. "I heard it helps women recover faster and I want to recover as quickly as I can!" Luckily, the former Playmate found the pills easy to swallow and way less gory than she imagined.
The hard-working Teen Mom reportedly struggled with postpartum depression and breastfeeding after delivering her firstborn son, Isaac. So when she gave birth to baby Lincoln last fall, she decided to have her placenta encapsulated for a little extra postpartum TLC. Lowry posted an Instagram photo of her stash on November 22 and tweeted the next day, "For those wondering, I'm feeling pretty good so far taking my placenta pills." Lowry, 21, tweeted again a day later. "No negative side effects!"
Perhaps the only thing less appetizing for this Real Housewife of Atlanta than a placenta smoothie is suffering from exhaustion and postpartum depression. So while recovering from giving birth to her twins in November, Zolciak chugged the fruity afterbirth drink ("I can do anything for my babies," she explained later). Of course, Nene's favorite frenemy wasn't going down alone—she bullied husband Kroy Biermann into drinking it in a gorgeous, profanity-laced rant.