Classic homebirth dilemma: can you leave the placenta attached and eat it, too?


You cannot make this stuff up.


I am having such a difficult time deciding between lotus birth and cubing the placenta for consumption in smoothies. I am trying to find a solution that will be less stressful on both DD and myself. Has anyone waited until the umbilical naturally shriveled closed to sever it?

This is a tough question. On the one hand we have the made up nonsensical claim that lotus birth, leaving the placenta attached to the newborn baby until it rots off several days later, is good for the baby. On the other hand, we have the made up nonsensical claim that eating placenta prevents postpartum depression. What’s a New-Age know-nothing to do?

According to one of the respondents, you can have your placenta and eat it, too.

I waited about 36 hours after my 2nd’s birth, and by that time the cord was dry, hard and quite thin. It was hard to cut, like a thick fingernail. I didn’t feel comfortable eating the placenta so I just stuck it in the freezer. Gloria Lemay has a blog post suggesting you could keep the placenta in a cooler bag with an ice pack while it is attached if you want the best of both worlds.

See, that wasn’t so hard. This is why is the go to guide for sharing mind blowing ignorance and stupidity among homebirth advocates.

193 Responses to “Classic homebirth dilemma: can you leave the placenta attached and eat it, too?”

  1. Peggy Thatcher
    November 21, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    I’m surprised they don’t just cut the cord and dispose of the baby…

  2. The Computer Ate My Nym
    November 18, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    Late to the party here, but I just wanted to say that if you were REALLY hard core you’d eat the rotting placenta bits as they fell off. (Oops. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. I meant it to be sarcastic but what if people get ideas…ideas that could make them septic.)

  3. Stacy21629
    November 15, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    In the wild, how many primates are dragging around their baby’s placenta AND and ice pack?
    See we want to leave the placenta attached…but we don’t want it to be all icky and gross.

  4. Teleute
    November 15, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    Never saw the placenta and never wanted to.

    • Stacy21629
      November 15, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

      I saw my son’s for a brief second…but even when I was all woo’d out that was all the interest I had in it. I had a baby in my arms. Who cares about a now useless bloody piece of meat?
      With my second, didn’t even see it. Out with the trash!

  5. ngozi
    November 15, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    I swear if we keep talking about eating placentas I am going to faint, hit my head, and end up at my local ER.

    • November 19, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

      Sounds like you need more encapsulated placenta in your diet. I recommend scavenging hospital bio-waste bins first thing in the morning, before the raccoons get to them.

  6. L&DinSoCal
    November 14, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

    I just love it when the family wants to take the placenta of a baby that is in the unit with overwhelming sepsis and known “heavy growth” of GBS. I’m thinking that the depression might have been lessened if they had come to the hospital for antibiotics as recommended rather than laboring at home until nearly complete.

    • SkepticalGuest
      November 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

      Not everyone who wants to “take” a placenta home is planning to eat it. Many of my friends–and myself–took our placentas home for some sort of family ritual. The most common is to bury the placenta deep in the ground and plant a tree or shrub over it. It’s a nice little tradition if you’re so inclined.

      Not treating GBS…well, that’s just madness. But it’s madness regardless of whether you let the hospital put your placenta in with the medical waste, bring it home to eat, or plant it under a tree.

      • L&DinSoCal
        November 15, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

        This particular patient was planning on having it dehydrated and encapsulated for PPD prophylaxis. I welcome all unmedicated deliveries that are done at the hospital, but I see a lot of these patients come in too late for the recommended minimum 2 doses of antibiotics for GBS treatment.

      • TNMamato4
        December 20, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

        It’s absolute MADNESS. My 2nd son contracted GBS during L&D. My MIDWIFE (the NAVY only provided MIDWIVES at the Naval Base in Norfolk,VA) had me SWAB myself for GBS. Test said NEGATIVE, I was POSITIVE. My son spent 14 days in the NICU, and the first few days, was fighting for his life.

        I cannot tell you how infuriating it is when I read the ignorant comments about “natural” ways to treat GBS in order to AVOID antibiotics…because DEATH or NICU is a MUCH better alternative!!

  7. lilady R.N.
    November 14, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    No need to devour your infant’s placenta in a smoothie …not when there are a variety of methods to prepare it.

    And…because I always get my medical and nutritional advice from TV actresses…

  8. Zornorph
    November 13, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

    I kept telling people I was going to feed the placenta to my doggie (pictured to the left!) so he’s feel like he was a ‘part of the birth’. I’m almost crazy enough to do something like that, so people never quite knew if I was joking or not.

    • Certified Hamster Midwife
      November 14, 2013 at 12:14 am #

      Don’t dogs normally eat placentas? Their own, that is.

      • Zornorph
        November 14, 2013 at 12:28 am #

        Well, my doggie is a male.

    • T.
      November 14, 2013 at 1:03 am #

      Perhaps you could spin it as a way for the doggie to be part of the family thusly recognizing the new arrival as a member of the pack yadda yadda.

      There may be a market in the NCB idiocy for it.

  9. batmom
    November 13, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

    I donated my baby’s placenta…

    to a research study into causes of pre-term labor. (The nurses collected it from the L&D room.)

    I’m sure this means my son won’t get into Yale.

    • Young CC Prof
      November 13, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

      Thank you for doing SCIENCE!

      I’m finding myself signing up for all kinds of studies and whatnot. Some breast cancer researchers want milk samples. I don’t know why exactly, but they are legit researchers, so OK.

      • batmom
        November 13, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

        It was pretty cool. It was apparently a pretty massive undertaking — lots and lots of women. But they took blood and did ultrasounds once per trimester, and sampled the placenta at delivery. And of course there were questionnaires and things early on.

        According to the nurses, they’re looking for a way to predict (presumably a blood marker?) who is at risk for pre-term labor that works for a primip, as the best predictor right now is “went into pre-term labor with a previous pregnancy.”

        I would have liked to have seen the placenta but after 21 hours of labor and forceps I was both completely out of it and trying to breastfeed my baby.

      • Amy M
        November 14, 2013 at 6:38 am #

        I wonder if they are looking for various white blood cells, increased cytokines, tumor cell markers and things like that in breast milk? That sort of info can be found in blood, why not search breastmilk, which will have lactation specific information? Lactation itself will trigger certain kinds of cellular growth (or vice versa?), which may give insights into how said growth gets out of control in cancer.

        • Young CC Prof
          November 14, 2013 at 8:50 am #

          That makes sense. They want one sample from shortly after birth, and one after several months of breastfeeding. Especially with a first baby, there ought to be lots of cellular changes in that timespan.

      • StudentMdwf
        November 14, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

        Perhaps you are just as ignorant for not knowing the research you have signed up for

        • araikwao
          November 14, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

          Fair comparison? I think not.

        • Young CC Prof
          November 14, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

          Perhaps I am ignorant. I don’t know everything. However, I don’t claim to be an expert on stuff I know only a taste of. I understand breast cancer epidemiology and screening, I don’t understand breast cancer biochemistry.

    • Ob in OZ
      November 14, 2013 at 1:58 am #

      yale is a safety school anyway. Aim higher

  10. Ob in OZ
    November 13, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    Am I to understand that the advice is to carry your baby around with the cord running to a cooler bag holding a placenta on ice? I have yet to see this, but it might require me to break confidentiality and snap a picture. Unbelievable

    • Sue
      November 13, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

      Wait – a new marketing idea – baby car capsule with incorporated insulated compartment for placenta-on-ice!

  11. Dr Kitty
    November 13, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    Completely OT, TMI and very selfish of me
    Can I have some good thoughts for Friday please?

    My gynaecologist is going to hopefully remove my Mirena from behind a band of endometriosis scarring on my cervix. Hopefully we will then be able to try for another baby.

    This undertaking is looking like it is going to be a lot more tricky than we thought, but we’re not giving up yet.

    • Elizabeth A
      November 13, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

      Good thoughts for Friday! I hope the removal is quick and painless (as much as is possible) and that we get to move on to congratulating you on your pregnancy soon.

    • November 13, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

      Wishing for the best…

    • Carolina
      November 13, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

      Good hopes and vibes to you.

    • DiomedesV
      November 13, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

      Good luck! I’m sure you’ve thought of everything, but if I were you I would take some ibuprofen and Xanax or Ativan right before (but only if you have a ride home).

      • Dr Kitty
        November 13, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

        I like the way you think (Xanax and Ativan are pretty hard to come by here, though Diazepam is common).

        I’m planning on Diclofenac +Misoprostol the night before and morning of, and my Gynaecologist has lined up a cervical block and IV Midazolam if required, going to GA if needed.

        He’s already described the rather unpleasant unsuccessful attempt to remove it without anaesthetic as “heroic” (he chickened out before I did) and we’re both clear that I’m not going home until it is out!

        I’m staying optimistic though,really at this point I’d do anything to make this happen.

        Don’t let this put you off Mirena if you’re thinking about it. This is something that pretty much just happened to me and no one else, and I still LOVE it as a contraceptive method…I just wish in my case reversal was easier.

        • Ceridwen
          November 13, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

          Good luck!

          As a veteran of 2 difficult Mirena removals (my uterus eats the strings even when they are left long and we have to fish for it every time) I hope the cervical block helps as much for you as it did for me! We nearly had to opt for GA for mine but the cervical block made all the difference. I wish I’d opted for it faster the first time. The second time I was clear that I wanted it to done immediately and the whole thing was so much better.

          I still love the Mirena though. I’m on my third one now.

        • Ob in OZ
          November 13, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

          Sounds like everything short of a general anesthetic has been thought of. Good luck now and in the future. As far as off topic goes, this may be a record. One of the craziest birth posts that may require me to paste a bit of it on facebook, and you bring up a very tricky medical issue that would be interesting to discuss. Endometriosis (especially cervical), fertility, the IUD , mirena in particular and its many benefits. YOu are a walking, talking gynecology presentation lost amongst placenta eaters. Though in all seriousness, again good luck.

          • Dr Kitty
            November 14, 2013 at 3:33 am #

            Yeah, I might end up anonymised in a journal or conference, but hopefully because my gyne wants to show off his mad skillz and not as a cautionary tale!

          • KarenJJ
            November 14, 2013 at 3:48 am #

            I’m currently enjoying my five minutes of non-fame after being the “anonymous proband” in a published paper. It’s fun to see it in print, especially if it’s a good tale.

        • attitude devant
          November 14, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

          good luck!!

    • Ainsley Nicholson
      November 13, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

      Congrats and good luck! Several of my children are living proof that fertility can return very quickly after the Mirena is removed, so I hope it works out the same way for you!

    • Mishimoo
      November 13, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

      Good luck! Hope everything goes well and that you have a lovely, healthy baby soon.

    • Josephine
      November 13, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

      I don’t think it’s selfish at all. Hoping everything goes smoothly.

    • Antigonos CNM
      November 14, 2013 at 12:31 am #

      Hope it all goes well. It might be true that a little knowledge is dangerous, but a lot of knowledge, as we “in the business” have, is definitely nerve-wracking, isn’t it?

    • Petanque
      November 14, 2013 at 4:35 am #

      Good Luck Dr Kitty, hoping all goes well!

    • moto_librarian
      November 14, 2013 at 9:15 am #

      I hope that all goes well, Dr. Kitty, and that you will be reporting a pregnancy very soon!

  12. kelly
    November 13, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    This might be my favorite post ever.

  13. Mel
    November 13, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    OH! OH! I figured it out!

    Leave one placenta attached to your daughter. Get a placenta from someone else to grind into a smoothie. Crunchy moms have to make some sacrifices and any good mom would risk blood-borne pathogens for …. placenta smoothies……ok, this is creeping me out and I know I’m joking.

    • Amy M
      November 13, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

      Why not both? Leave the placenta attached, but just cut a piece off to eat? Why has no else figured this out? Kind of a no brainer…

      • Burgundy
        November 13, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

        But if you cut a piece of placenta off, all the magical power would be gone.

        • Amy M
          November 13, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

          Really? Does it fly out through the ragged end, like all the world’s ills leaving Pandora’s box? 🙂

      • Amy M
        November 13, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

        Oh wait…Carolina already DID think of it, several posts below.

        Carolina, do you have a MDC account? If so, go suggest that to this brainiac and see what happens.

        • Carolina
          November 13, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

          I’m afraid I would become a terrible troll on that board and just get banned. I also waste enough work time playing on blogs as it is

    • Guest
      November 13, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

      They can have mine. I don’t need it for anything.

      • Josephine
        November 13, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

        They can have both of mine…but I eat GMO, non-organic fruits and veggies a lot. Whoooops.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      November 13, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

      Why grind it into a smoothie at all? Why not just chew on it? You can do that while it is attached.

      • Josephine
        November 13, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

        Or just plop some under your tongue – no PPHs!

      • MichelleJo
        November 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

        Please, a little thought for nauseous pregnant ladies who might be on this board! It’s just way beyond ick.

    • Josephine
      November 13, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

      Have di/di twins, grind up one placenta, duct tape the “loose” baby to the other placenta. Done.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        November 13, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

        Another great use for duct tape.

        • Lisa from NY
          November 16, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

          What about triplets?

  14. Mel
    November 13, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    I’m laughing so hard that I’m crying.

  15. yentavegan
    November 13, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    How can you all be so dismissive of a mother seeking to do what is best for her and her soon to be born baby. she only wants what is best for a peaceful stress free entrance into this cold harsh world. But she is grounded in reality because she knows there is a possibility that she will suffer from post partum depression and the best way to treat it is by eating the placenta.
    Can’t you people get it through your thick skulls?
    Alright enough nonsense.If any of you lurking lotus birthers are out there note this…the very best place to give birth is in a clean medically equipped doctor populated hospital. If anything goes blip the hospital staff will do their very best their very very best to save you and your baby. A midwife at home will do her best to…but her best is second rate.

    • KarenJJ
      November 13, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

      I keep thinking that the world would appear less cold and harsh and a lot more fun and interesting if they didn’t believe in this sort of crap to start with.

  16. Guest
    November 13, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    Dr. Amy, can you help me with this? I’m making toenail sugar cookies again (I roll the clippings in all natural food dye so they look like real sprinkles!) but the nails just keep browning too much in the oven. A little browning gives a nice nutty flavor, actually, but over browned and they’re just hard to get through — like burned chocolate almost. Do you have a recipe? Thanks in advance. xoxo Me

    • Burgundy
      November 13, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

      Sugar causes browning. All you need is a little bit of kale sprinkles and that should do it.

      • Guest
        November 13, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

        Oh! We can call it “kale chips and toenail clips!”

        • BeatlesFan
          November 14, 2013 at 9:49 am #

          Somebody needs to write a jingle for the commercial!

          • MichelleJo
            November 14, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

            Who says doctors and other professionals can’t have some good old fun? I am cracking up and have tears rolling down my face reading all of the above. Just make sure your patients don’t know your screen names though!

    • auntbea
      November 13, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

      Protect the tops of the cookies with a heat-resistant mat woven of your own hair.

      • Guest
        November 13, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

        Oh shit! I just used the last of my hair in a smoothie!

      • attitude devant
        November 13, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

        It works best with pubic hair….just sayin’

        • auntbea
          November 13, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

          Well, obviously, but I thought she could figure that out on her own.

          P.S. Though I started it, this conversation is grossing me out.

    • Trixie
      November 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

      I sure hope you’re using coconut oil in those.

    • Amy M
      November 13, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

      The secret ingredient is aged placenta.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      November 13, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

      Have you tried dipping them in lye beforehand? It does such great things for pretzels.

    • Something From Nothing
      November 13, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

      Are they gluten free?

  17. November 13, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    Because focussing on this dilemma is easier than focussing on the other, much bigger dilemma: Knowingly foregoing access to care that might save your child’s life in order to meet whatever other wants/needs are served by having a homebirth.

    • Young CC Prof
      November 13, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

      You know, with a baby coming, there are so many other things to worry about, from life insurance to finishing out projects at work to baby clothing. Why people want to complicate it by making the birth itself an obsession is beyond me.

  18. Laura
    November 13, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    I don’t know how someone could do something like that, seeing that there are no benefits.
    Also, it’s gross.

    • Lynnie
      November 13, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

      Wouldn’t all the boiling and the baking and the pulverizing greatly reduce the “benefits”. I mean, we are told to eat fruits and veggies with out cooking them to get all the “benefits” and that cooking destroys the enzymes so wouldn’t all that cooking pretty much render it pretty much the same as any other piece of meat?

      • Meredith Watson
        November 13, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

        I think there was a study somewhere that said just that. I don’t think we can say that there are zero benefits to eating a placenta, but rather, are there benefits that can’t be replicated by a modern diet? I’m sure there is some iron in a placenta, just like I’m sure there are minerals in soil, but in both cases, I’d rather get my iron and minerals another way, namely eating food I normally eat.

        • Trixie
          November 13, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

          Also, these are the same people who prattle on about “toxins.” Well, guess what filters the toxins away from your baby during pregnancy? Why would you want to eat an organ that’s full of toxins?

          • Young CC Prof
            November 13, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

            But there can’t be toxins there! It’s the product of a magic natural birth!

        • Dr Kitty
          November 13, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

          Yeah, don’t eat soil.
          I did an elective in Broken Hill NSW, which is a mining town with high environmental lead levels.There was a baby with pretty horrible damage because her mother ate dirt when she was pregnant.

          • Meredith Watson
            November 13, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

            Was it pica? That is very sad.

          • Dr Kitty
            November 13, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

            Yes it was.
            It was awful.

            So, unless you know exactly what is in the dirt you’re eating, please don’t eat it.

          • Meredith Watson
            November 13, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

            I have no desire to eat soil or placenta.

          • MichelleJo
            November 14, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

            But what if I have a craving?

      • araikwao
        November 13, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

        Yeah, well our digestive processes also destroy the enzymes. And bioavailability of oxytocin from GI absorption anyway?? I don’t imagine it’s great, cooked or otherwise. Plus, blecch.

  19. Lynnie
    November 13, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    When I was a housekeeper at a hospital, part of my job was to take the placentas to medical waste. We checked it several times a day because well, it was just nasty to leave it there for more than a few hours. I remember when I first started working there having the conversation with my co-workers about how sometimes there wouldn’t be a placenta after the births because the parents would want to take them home to plant in their gardens or even to eat them. The thought was just as repulsive now was it was then. So gross. I know for a fact, (because I experienced it first hand) that placentas pretty much start rotting right away. If we happened to forget to check to see if there were any to take to medical waste (pretty much it’s only use), it would start stinking with in hours. The idea of letting one rot attached to a baby is so completely disgusting to me, and then eating it?? I threw up a little in my mouth.

    • Trixie
      November 13, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

      After I delivered my placenta, the midwife geeked out because it was apparently an odd shape that she’d only ever seen in a book. It was like a pear with a larger round section, then a smaller round top section with the cord attached to the top section. She carried it in a pan around the L&D ward and showed it to the other nurses before it was disposed of (slow night I guess!). Despite having a special placenta, I felt no urge to keep it beyond that lol.

      • Josephine
        November 13, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

        That’s actually slightly adorable? I’m not even a HCP of any kind but if I knowingly saw an unusually-shaped placenta I would be geeking out too.

        • Trixie
          November 13, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

          It was very endearing and made me feel special!

          • auntbea
            November 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

            Good job growing an awesome placenta, mama!

          • Trixie
            November 13, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

            Her best guess was that there’s something slightly odd about the shape at the top of my uterus. The placenta was attached at the very top (we know from ultrasound). Also, the fundus never got hard during active labor contractions either time, and contraction monitors don’t work on me. I was in transition and the monitor barely registered a thing. I felt it all in my back.

          • Young CC Prof
            November 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

            That’s kind of nifty. And I like having a health care provider who has intellectual curiosity about stuff, makes me feel more confident.

        • KarenJJ
          November 13, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

          I was curious about my placenta the second time I gave birth and was also curious about how they’d get it out. I watched my c-section via the reflection in the operating theatre lights, but damned if I can remember a thing after my baby was born so I’ve still no idea what it looked like or how they get it out…

      • Amy M
        November 13, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

        Ha! I had no interest in even seeing mine because I’d seen one at work a few years earlier and it was gross and satisfied all my placenta-viewing needs. I was working in a research lab in a hospital, doing a project with someone who was an (research) OB/GYN. We needed a sample of tissue with a specific enzyme, and placenta has tons of it, so she called down to L&D and asked if there were any fresh placentas around we could have a chunk of. There were, so we went down there, cut off a piece of one, and were able to FINALLY successfully complete the damn project.

      • Mishimoo
        November 13, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

        My sister geeked out over the one from my second baby – the CNM gave her some gloves and let her touch it “because its crunchy”. I just wanted to sleep and have never really cared about my placentas. It would be nice to plant a special tree over them, but given our large dogs, that strikes me as a very messy bad idea.

    • mollyb
      November 13, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

      I remember the youngish doctor who did most of my delivery pausing to politely ask me if I wanted to spend any time with my placenta before they discarded it. Um . . . nah.

      • Amy M
        November 13, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

        Ewwww! Spend time with it? For what reason?! Having an enlightened discussion about the internal environment of the womb?

        • Sue
          November 13, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

          For what reason? BONDING, of course!

          • Amy M
            November 14, 2013 at 6:41 am #

            Well, it would sure bond alright…maybe better than crazy glue, with all that gore all over it. Yuk!

      • Jennifer2
        November 14, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

        I was excited that the nurse showed me my placenta when they were cleaning up the room after kiddo popped out. But really, looking at it for a minute or so was about all the contact I wanted to have with it once it was external. Maybe I would have poked it. With gloves on. But I was perfectly happy to have it sent off to be dissected or whatever they said they had to do with it since I had GD.

      • MichelleJo
        November 16, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

        Got five kids. Never seen a placenta.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      November 13, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

      There is the episode of Cheers where Lilith and Fraser go all wacky during her pregnancy. Lilith is chasing Carla out of the office, and Carla says, “I don’t know what they did with the birth goo!” Lilith goes on to explain how she is going to plant it under a tree to nourish the earth. Then she and Fraser vowed to leave civilization and live off the land, but Fraser couldn’t start a fire without matches.

      That’s all I can think reading this thread. “I don’t know what they did with the birth goo!”

      • Bombshellrisa
        November 13, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

        Lilith: “I am going to cook his meals and birth his children”
        Carla “Great. Just make sure you don’t mix those two up”

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          November 13, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

          When my younger guy was a baby, I used to sit in the chair with him at 1:30 – 2:00, and Cheers was on. Man, that was a funny show.

    • Sue
      November 13, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

      That brought back an old memory….living in at the obstetric hospital as a medical student MANY years ago…there was a placenta-eating machine on labor ward, and such bad food in the hospital cafeteria – we were sure the two had to be connected.

      • Antigonos CNM
        November 14, 2013 at 12:41 am #

        Many years ago, when the world was young, and all, we used to dump each placenta in a giant commercial freezer and every so often a drug company came for them — to extract the hormones [which are now produced synthetically]. I never figured out how they managed to get a frozen bloc of what looked a lot like giant chicken livers, roughly 5 x 3 x 2 feet in size, out of the hospital without anyone noticing, or dripping all over the floors. The freezer itself, AFAIK, wasn’t changed, and we didn’t wrap the placentas or anything. A mystery of the universe…

  20. Trixie
    November 13, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    Maybe this has been discussed before, but I’m curious about something. Placentas are full of progesterone, right? And progesterone levels have to drop after birth in order for lactation to begin, right? A retained placenta will destroy milk supply. So, if in fact eating the placenta had any effect at all, couldn’t it possibly be pumping the body full of progesterone right after birth and therefore inhibit milk supply? Obviously this would depend on how it was prepared and how much/how quickly it was consumed.

    • Young CC Prof
      November 13, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

      Well, a lot of animals do eat the placenta, so I doubt that’s a problem. Thing is, the hormones just aren’t well absorbed orally at all.

      The reason animals eat the placenta, the actual biological advantage, is that it’s edible and full of heme iron. If I was living on the savannah with no idea where my next meal was coming from or what it might be, birthing alone with only my two sisters to hold off the leopards, I’d probably eat my placenta, too, since it might decrease my chances of becoming dangerously anemic.

      Being as I live here, I think I’ll drive my car to the grocery store and buy some steak, spinach and maybe iron pills instead.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        November 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

        There’s also the fact that leaving around bloody entrails is a good way to attract predators, who might also find the offspring tasty.

      • Trixie
        November 13, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

        I know there are mammals (rats?) whose milk won’t come in unless they eat the placenta. But rat hormones probably work differently than ours anyway, right? You are right about the iron. In fact most of the “studies” placentophagia proponents link to are actually just about the importance of eating iron-rich foods. Another reason that many mammals eat the placenta is probably to get rid of the smell of blood as quickly as possible so as not to attract predators. But I don’t think any human cultures have ever done it, outside of very recently.

        • Karen in SC
          November 13, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

          what mammals are those?

          • Trixie
            November 13, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

            You mean, that eat the placenta, or eat their young? Most mammals eat the placenta.

          • Amy M
            November 13, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

            Both…sometimes, if disturbed, rodents will actually eat the babies. Not too bright, those rodents.

          • Certified Hamster Midwife
            November 13, 2013 at 2:57 pm #


          • Dr Kitty
            November 13, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

            Pigs are quite smart, and if they are stressed they’ll eat a litter too.

            If it comes down to it most mammals will choose survival over altruism.

            Some species of Octopi, on the other hand will starve themselves to death to ensure the survival of their young.

          • T.
            November 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

            Some species of Octopi can’t reproduce more than once, so it makes sense. Mammals don’t have that problem.

          • Young CC Prof
            November 13, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

            It’s actually pretty interesting, the tradeoffs nature makes between survival and reproduction. So many different permutations!

          • Karen in SC
            November 13, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

            I meant mammals where there is science behind the statement “eating the placenta brings the milk in”.

          • Certified Hamster Midwife
            November 13, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

            I think I’m being paged here.

          • Young CC Prof
            November 13, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

            Many years ago, my friend’s brother got to watch his pet hamster have babies. He was really excited about it, had been waiting days ever since his parents realized she was pregnant, etc.

            Then he watched the hamster eat her litter, and was horribly traumatized.

          • Kumquatwriter
            November 13, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

            I had two hamsters: Ernie and Bert. BERT ATE ERNIE. I was four. I still hate hamsters.

          • Certified Hamster Midwife
            November 14, 2013 at 12:29 am #

            I still don’t understand why people get nocturnal pets for small children.

          • Jennifer2
            November 14, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

            My three year old said the other day that he is nocturnal because he can see in the dark. He would probably do well with a hamster.

          • Jennifer2
            November 14, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

            I had gerbils that kept mating like, well, gerbils. One time, I found half a baby in the cage. I can’t remember if it was the front half or the back half.

        • Young CC Prof
          November 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm #


          Then again, the smaller mammals will also eat the offspring under certain conditions, so rats might not be the best model.

        • me
          November 14, 2013 at 11:30 am #

          Oop. Should have read your post before adding my $0.02.

      • me
        November 14, 2013 at 11:29 am #

        I also imagine (aside from a good source of protein and iron) that other mammals need to “clean up” after birth (by eating the afterbirth, lol, I kill me). If placentas do start to rot that quickly, they would end up attracting scavengers. Not what a newly delivered female and her offspring need to be dealing with.

      • MichelleJo
        November 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

        I think dying sounds like a more tempting option if I were stuck like that.

    • Playing Possum
      November 13, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

      Luckily for crunchies, the oral bioavailability of all placental hormones is low. Very low. Unless they hold slabs of raw placenta under their tongue, or maybe stick it up their bum. And don’t let it degrade at all, including by desiccating, cooking, pulverising…

      Sure, the basic principles fit, but the science and practicalities make it impossible. Aside from the grossness of eating a piece of fetal tissue that has travelled down a contaminated body tract.

      Do they snack on their menstrual clots? Squeeze a zit and eat it? Honestly, humankind figured this hygiene stuff out many centuries ago. Why can’t crunchies take their word for it?

      • Trixie
        November 13, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

        Thanks for explaining that.

      • Kumquatwriter
        November 13, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

        I beg of you to stop suggesting eating blood clots. Blechhhhh

  21. Stephanie
    November 13, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    I just threw up a little in my mouth.

  22. attitude devant
    November 13, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    Sadly, I have actually been present when this dilemma (lotus birth vs. placentophagy) has been seriously discussed. I could barely contain myself, as you might imagine. I was teasing a homebirth midwife about it last week, and from the way she rolled her eyes it was plain she thought lotus birth was the stupidest concept she ever heard of. Said some of her clients are competing with each other to be as ‘out there’ as possible.

  23. Young CC Prof
    November 13, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    “keep the placenta in a cooler bag with an ice pack while it is attached”

    Let’s think about this for a moment. Luckily, the circulation between placenta and the baby’s heart pretty much stops once the baby’s lungs start working. Otherwise, that would make your baby really dangerously hypothermic really fast! I mean, have you ever donated platelets? The blood cools off just a little bit in the centrifuge, and it’s enough to make you start shivering like you’re spiking a fever once they pour it back into you.

    As it is, it just sounds insanely inconvenient. (I thought hauling around a baby in a 10-pound carseat capsule sounded like a strain, now you want to add a whole cooler?)

    • Wren
      November 13, 2013 at 11:50 am #

      I kinda thought the same thing.

  24. Antigonos CNM
    November 13, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    Whenever I read something like this, I think it’s a joke. Can’t possibly be serious.

  25. Rochester mama
    November 13, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    If she didn’t feel comfortable eating the rotting placenta, why did she put it in the freezer? Does she have dead cats in there too she can’t bear to part with?

    • auntbea
      November 13, 2013 at 11:56 am #

      It’s not rotting. It’s dry aging.

      • Young CC Prof
        November 13, 2013 at 11:57 am #

        Like the finest Nebraska beefsteaks. Cut the mold off, and it’s tender as anything.

        • Clarissa Darling
          November 13, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

          If you think about it, people eat plenty of moldy, aged or fermented foods. Hey, why not placenta!?

          • Young CC Prof
            November 13, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

            Sure, add some yogurt sauce and soy sauce, serve with wine and a side dish of kimchee. Sounds delicious.

          • Clarissa Darling
            November 13, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

            Pretty soon they’ll start holding placenta tastings.

          • nomorequestionscatherine
            November 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

            Like the breast milk cheese served at a NY art gallery.


            At least they pasteurized it first.

          • Young CC Prof
            November 13, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

            Deliberately weird, but probably harmless.

          • KarenJJ
            November 13, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

            NCbers sure sound like they would have a lot of fun parties…

          • Kumquatwriter
            November 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

            You forgot Fava beans and a nice Chianti.

            And kombucha. There has to be a way to work that in to this festival of horrors.

    • Carolina
      November 13, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

      Why not just cut off a fresh chunk and have the best of both worlds!

    • Amy M
      November 13, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

      I don’t have an account there, otherwise I’d suggest lyophilizing (freeze-dry and pulverize to a powder) it and then encapsulating that. Who cares if it is rotten then? I wonder if anyone there would attempt it.

      • Young CC Prof
        November 13, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

        That’ll preserve bacteria and bacterial toxins, too! Nice bonus.

  26. Are you nuts
    November 13, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    This is so unbelievably gross. I’ve never carted a placenta around for a day and a half, so I can’t say for sure, but I’m guessing it rots just like any other animal meat. I’m thinking how my trash can smells the next day if I forget to take it out after discarding a raw chicken wrapper. Sick me out.

    • mollyb
      November 13, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

      It doesn’t rot like “animal meat”! It’s made of magic, just like breastmilk, and is not subject to normal biological processes.

      • Are you nuts
        November 13, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

        Good point – especially when you put it in an ice pack, ya know, like our ancestors used to do…

    • Dr Kitty
      November 13, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

      They smell pretty gamely from the get go (I’m not a fan of the odour of amniotic fluid, vernix and blood), I can’t imagine age and fresh air help.

    • Sue
      November 19, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

      Warning – do not hike in the forest with placenta attached if there are bears in the area.

      • Are you nuts
        November 22, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

        Fortunately I very seldom face bears while carting around human organs.

  27. Carolina
    November 13, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    Why did I start reading that page? Here’s another good question: how best to do an unassisted HB after 4 freaking c-sections?

    “I am so hoping someone here can help us out. We recently moved across the country, away from our crunchy birth community. The small town in western NY we are in Only has CNM’s who do not do homebirth, in fact, no one here attends homebirths. I have had 4 c sections ( the first was due to placenta deterioration, the next two were forced upon me and the last was a transfer due to short cord wrapped around her neck) my OB with my last said I was good to go for many more babies and home births.
    Now here we are, no prenatal care and no midwife. We had discussed unassisted birth before heading out here and now its seeming to be more likely. To make me slightly more nutty, my dates and measurements are not adding up ( my cycle was way off due to breastfeeding) so my due date is up in the air.
    Anyhow, I was hoping for some advice on preparing to catch my own baby. I have Ina may and hearts and hands and am reading both. Anything else I should pick up? Watch? Do?? Thank you ladies *♡*:”

    • KShadows
      November 13, 2013 at 10:50 am #


      is absolutely not the place to ask…you’d only get biased and stupid answers.
      I HIGHLY recommend “liking” the page “Birth Without Fear”
      on Facebook, it’s an excellent community and resource and would be a great place to ask your question. Where in NY are you located? I’m in that same boat: small, WNY town with NO homebirth options!

      • Wren
        November 13, 2013 at 11:04 am #

        I won’t swear to it, but given the question at the start and the quotation marks around the majority of the text, I’m pretty sure Carolina isn’t actually hoping to doHBA4C and probably wouldn’t be a fan of Birth Without Fear.
        Personally, I preferred birth with a healthy dose of fear and all of the equipment and personnel to handle the problems that might arise.

        • Are you nuts
          November 13, 2013 at 11:13 am #

          Yes. I fear a home birth after 4 c-sections for the same reason I fear tight rope walking without a net.

          • Antigonos CNM
            November 13, 2013 at 11:34 am #

            I wouldn’t walk a tight rope with a net. Seems like a novel way to play Russian roulette, though. Wonder who the OB is who told her that she was “good to go for many more babies and home births.”

          • Young CC Prof
            November 13, 2013 at 11:35 am #

            I would question whether that’s what the OB actually said. The “Yes, you can have more children” part, certainly, the “home birth” part not so much.

          • Allie
            November 13, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

            The OB probably said he or she would be open to trying VBAC, not VHBAC.

          • Antigonos CNM
            November 13, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

            Then she has very selective hearing. Alas, I frequently have run across this phenomenon in my work.

          • Young CC Prof
            November 13, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

            Slightly OT: I’ve often thought that doctors should put more in writing for patients. Verbal communication is inadequate for reinforcement, people need something they can refer back to. More than once, I’ve run across something in my medical records that the doctor supposedly told me, but I had no memory of hearing. No way to know whether I missed it among other information, or whether the doctor thought he said it, but actually didn’t. I’m so glad my allergist has the nurse print out a written summary at the end of each appointment, really helps me.

            Won’t do anything for the people who really really don’t want to listen, of course.

          • Trixie
            November 13, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

            Pretty much no provider is going to encourage any more than a VBA2C, right?

          • Dr Kitty
            November 13, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

            RCOG guidance is that VBA4C is ok…but with continuous monitoring, in a hospital, with access to an emergency CS and a blood bank.

          • Carolina
            November 13, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

            I would say I “fear” birth in the same way I fear driving: I respect the speed limit, don’t drive while impaired, maintain my car, etc. I understand it’s probably the riskiest thing I do every day, so I treat it with respect and take precautions.

          • Young CC Prof
            November 13, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

            Well put. Yes, birth is dangerous. That’s why I’m going to do it in a good hospital, under proper monitoring. I got appropriate prenatal testing, to watch for special circumstances that could require special management. And of course, I’m eating right and getting gentle exercise, so I’ll go into it as strong as possible. Do all that, and it’s still dangerous compared to, say, sitting in your living room, but there’s very little to fear.

          • Elle
            November 13, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

            And still put your kids in car seats even though you know the actual risk of getting into a car accident at any one time is slim! (boggles my mind how pro-rear-facing/carseat safety some homebirthers are!)

          • Wren
            November 13, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

            More like walking a tight rope without a net while carrying a baby.

        • Carolina
          November 13, 2013 at 11:38 am #

          I’m a little surprised someone thought that was a serious inquiry on this board 🙂

          • Kumquatwriter
            November 13, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

            Well, if they can’t read and interpret a basic quote, why WOULDN’T you trust them to advise on life-and-death matters??

          • Carolina
            November 13, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

            Well, I did omit the ending quotation marks. I can see the confusion 🙂

      • Carolina
        November 13, 2013 at 11:37 am #

        “see, we considered home birth, but we wanted our baby to LIVE” – Jim Gaffigan.
        There’s no way I would homebirth, even under the most ideal circumstances. I think people who attempt it are gambling with their children’s lives and brain function. I’ve found this page to be populated with experienced professionals who actually know the risks to birth. I have four doctors in the family, so I tend to trust actual professionals over idiots on a blog telling me to “trust birth.” If I am fortunate enough to get pregnant again (fingers crossed for this cycle), I’ll be scheduling a repeat c-section on whatever day my OB thinks is best.

        • Elle
          November 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

          Jim Gaffigan is actually really funny… it’s too bad that he uses humor to make homebirth sound like it’s no big deal, or that those who question it are doing it because they think it’s some kind of witchcraft (which is the context of that quote)…

          • Courtney84
            November 13, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

            I thought Jim Gaffigan’s kids were all born at home in their NYC apartment because she didn’t want to give birth in a place full of sick people wearing a gown someone died in yesterday?

          • Certified Hamster Midwife
            November 14, 2013 at 12:36 am #

            Circle of life, dude.

          • Certified Hamster Midwife
            November 14, 2013 at 12:36 am #

            Circle of life, dude.

          • Elle
            November 14, 2013 at 9:26 am #

            Totally! Doesn’t sound like a great reason to risk a baby’s life though…

      • Amy M
        November 13, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

        Carolina’s “Why did I start reading this page” refers to the page, not this Skeptical OB page. She’s marveling at the insanity of the HBAC4 hopeful.

    • Young CC Prof
      November 13, 2013 at 11:22 am #

      Wow, that is indeed terrifying. This woman has four children, and she’s really OK with dying while delivering the fifth? I really hope the person who posted that is fake.

    • Trixie
      November 13, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

      You’re missing the obvious. The best way to have a UBA4C is in an exotic, unsanitary outdoor location, preferable near voracious wild animals, while live-streaming it on the internet.

    • Bombshellrisa
      November 13, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

      Dang those well trained CNMs anyway-how dare they practice with guidelines and deliver only in hospitals!!! Don’t they know they could have skipped all that schooling and could make bank sitting around doing hour long chatty prenatal appointments where they sip tea and reassure women they are “designed to give birth”? And just knit or crochet in a corner while mama labors, then sell their crafts on Etsy? How dare they leave these women wanting a homebirth after four csections without a homebirth option!!!!

    • Allie
      November 13, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

      OT, but I couldn’t resist posting another zinger from
      “Western civilization is notoriously cavalier about childbirth stories; as long as it results in a healthy baby, the birthing experience itself is seen as insignificant, a means to an end, nothing to dwell upon. (“Oh, come on honey, Brad and Audrey don’t need to see the video…”). Any detours from a woman’s childbirth expectations become largely irrelevant once a “good outcome” has been achieved.”
      Bingo! I talked about my childbirth experience (without TMI) with my friends and family in hospital and then I shut up about it cuz guess what… no sane person wants to listen to you prattle on about giving birth, and they certainly don’t want to see the video. That said, my daughter is certainly going to hear about it when she’s older and gives me any guff : )

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        November 13, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

        no sane person wants to listen to you prattle on about giving birth, and they certainly don’t want to see the video.

        This needs to be repeated.

        What people want to know are what one guy called the “fishing stats.” Weight, length, time of birth, boy/girl, name.

        • Karen in SC
          November 13, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

          You know, when they introduce the players in the World Series, the announcers give all sorts of background information, heavy on the baseball stats, of course. But I never heard Joe Buck or Tim McCarver say which players were born at home or how many months they were breastfed.

          • Karen in SC
            November 13, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

            (fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, National League Champions!!!!)

          • Sue
            November 13, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

            Of course they don’t tell you those things – they don’t have to! Nobody who wasn’t home-birthed, lotus-birthed, breastfed until homeschool aged and non-vaxed ever makes it into the team, silly!

      • Squillo
        November 13, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

        Joan Rivers said it best: “Instead of showing me video of your kid being born, show me video of it being conceived.” Or words to that effect.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.