HOUSTON - It's a growing trend among new mothers. Even celebrities like Mad Men's January Jones swear by it: eating their placenta after birth.
Believers say it's a magic bullet promising a long list of health benefits.
Stephanie Creech of northwest Houston told Local 2 the birth of her third baby boy came without the baby blues of her previous postpartum experiences.
She explained, "It was definitely a big adjustment going from one (child) to two for me, so I just wanted to avoid that. This has definitely been the easiest recovery that I've had so far."
Creech says her secret are her placenta pills.
She added, "She came two days after the delivery, so three days later I had my pills and I started taking them that day."
She is certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist Serena Logue who learned about "placentophagy" after the birth of her third son.
Logue said, "Other cultures having been using the placenta for medicinal purposes for centuries."
Advocates say the placenta is rich in everything from nutrients, iron, B-12 and other hormones that help with everything from milk production to postpartum recovery.
Logue said other benefits include, "Lessening bleeding, increased energy, helping the uterus shrink faster."
Placenta can be eaten raw, cooked in stew or stir fry, or encapsulated. Logue's method seems to be easier for moms to swallow.
She explained, "All I wait for is the phone call saying, 'Okay, the placenta is here! It's back in my home. It's in my refrigerator' and I make arrangements to come within 24 hours and start the process. The process takes two days. The first day is where I steam the placenta using the traditional Chinese method. I steam it in herbs and then I place it in a dehydrator where it stays in the client's home overnight and it dehydrates for 11 to 12 hours."
The placenta is then ground into a powder and placed in gelatin capsules.
Logue said some women even save some for later.
She added, "Many women will freeze them and use them later in life like if they're premenopausal or anytime she's feeling hormonal."
Kelsey-Seybold OB/GYN Dr. Jagjit Khariah told Local 2, "I don't think there's anything absolutely wrong with it nor do I think it serves any real benefit."
Dr. Khariah said while there is no credible data supporting the benefits of eating one's placenta, his main concern is patient safety.
He explained, "My fear is that patients who practice this may expose themselves to unnecessary potential infection, and thus getting ill and the last thing we want is a recently new mom to get ill by eating her placenta."
Dr. Khariah also hopes women experiencing symptoms like postpartum depression or excessive bleeding will consult their doctor first.
He added, "If we're not able to intervene within a good window of time, we may not be able to help a patient and optimize their care."
But for believers like Stephanie, the proof is in the pill.
She said, "If you've had any kind of, especially the blues kind of troubles, I would say it's absolutely worth it."
Placenta encapsulation can cost $150 to $300.You will first need to consult with your hospital to find out the policy on releasing placenta.
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