Are Placenta Cookbooks Real?

Some women swap recipes that include a little piece of themselves--their placenta, that is! Is it something you should consider?
Kate Mathis

Believe it or not, it's a growing trend for women to take their placenta, the baby's first source of nutrition in the womb, home to eat themselves! While most moms who decide to eat their placenta take the organ in pill form, you'll find more than a few moms who opt to whip it up into a fabulous dish. "There are two different ways that my patients tend to ingest it," says Titi Otunla, a certified nurse midwife at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women in Houston. "About 50 percent encapsulate it in pills, and the others prepare it in a smoothie mixed with apple, kale and spinach. It's sweet but also healthy--and they can freeze the smoothie mixture in ice cube trays, then use two or three ice cubes daily in their drink."

With placentophagy (the practice of eating the placenta) being touted by some people as a cure-all for a series of postpartum ills (overcoming exhaustion, building milk supply, and circumventing postpartum depression, to name a few), more women are looking for ways to prep their organ for ingestion postpartum--including celebs like Mayim Bialik of The Big Bang Theory and, reportedly, Kim Kardashian.

So is there really a cookbook you can turn to for recipes featuring the placenta? You won't find one at your local Barnes & Noble, but there is an e-book out there with 25 recipes to try. And if you Google "placenta recipes," you'll find a massive list of options, including simple smoothies (several recipes recommend using strawberries to mask the look and smell of the placenta), stews, and lasagnas. But you might consider using the placenta in pretty much any recipe that uses red meat or organ meat (think offal, such as intestines, liver, and brains), as the placenta would likely translate well to those dishes. (Maybe you can channel Hannibal Lecter, who famously said, "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chanti.")

While some women do eat the placenta raw (as in the previously mentioned smoothie), that practice can be risky and is not recommended by many experts. It's safest if you cook the placenta thoroughly before you ingest it, to help kill off any harmful bacteria that may have contaminated the uterus during birth. But that level of safety comes at a price. "You have to cook at sterilization levels, and at that point, you've denatured all of the proteins and the hormones that you think are going to help you heal," says Marra Francis, M.D., an ob-gyn in Woodlands, Texas, and an author of the Mommy MD Guides.

You'll also want to reserve whatever dish you do decide to make for yourself, as there are health concerns with sharing your placenta with someone else. "Any infection in your blood lives in your placenta, so you're taking a risk ingesting that, especially if you're eating other people's placentas or sharing it with others," Dr. Francis says.

So how will you serve up your placenta--as pills or pizza?

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