Placentophagy -- the practice of eating one's placenta after birth -- is relatively common practice within Chinese medicine for hundreds of years.
The health-giving qualities of placenta are currently creating a buzz in Western countries,where some say it helps with breastfeeding, energy levels, and can help stave off postnatal depression.
China's state media says the practice of eating placenta has re-emerged over the past decade. One maternity hospital in the eastern city of Nanjing reported that about 10 percent of new parents took their placenta after childbirth.
Internet postings swap recipes on how to prepare placenta. One popular health website suggests soup, dumplings, meat balls or mixing it with other kinds of traditional Chinese medicine.
A policy instituted earlier this year at Miami Valley Hospital’s Berry Birthing Center requires families to wait 72 hours before they can take home the placenta from babies born at the center.
Beth Tabor-Cruea, nurse manager of the Family Beginnings program and the birthing center said,"On average, about 30 babies a month are delivered through the birthing center. Families request the placenta “about once or twice a week.”
“We’ve always had a few requests for it, like one or two a year,” she said. “But in the last year, we’ve seen an increase in patients requesting to take their placentas home for various reasons.”
Baby Home Brewed, a Web-based placenta remedy business in Columbia operated by Jennifer Graham-Henderson.
Graham-Henderson, a former special education teacher in Columbia, had postpartum depression after giving birth to her first daughter and learned about placenta remedies while she was pregnant with her second daughter.
She gave this explanation for the benefits of placentas for mothers:
The placenta is full of hormones and nutrients — especially vitamin B, protein and iron — and Graham-Henderson said these natural vitamins are absorbed into the body faster and easier from placenta remedies than vitamin supplements. Ingesting the placenta during the weeks after birth, she said, is thought to help new moms regain energy faster and avoid postpartum depression.
Graham-Henderson's basic fee for the placenta capsules is $200, and then $20 for additional products.
Several celebrities are touting the consumption of their placenta. For instance, AMC's "Mad Men" star recently said she's been eating her placenta since her son Xander was born last September.