Eating the placenta: stupid is as stupid does

expression -  Ignorance is bliss - written on a school blackboar

Homebirth and natural childbirth advocates can’t make up their mind about the placenta.

They all agree that human placenta has magical traits, but they can’t agree what those magical traits are:

It resuscitates the baby! Really? If the baby is born distressed because the placenta couldn’t provide enough oxygen inside the mother’s body, why would it suddenly provide adequate oxygen outside it?

You should leave the placenta attached to the baby! Really? Is there any animal that leaves the placenta attached to the baby? No, of course not.

You should detach the placenta so you can eat it! Really? Which ancient or indigenous cultures consumed the placenta? Oh, right, none.

It’s the baby’s spiritual twin! Really? Really??!!

Eating the placenta is stupid for a whole host of reasons, but the most important reason is this: the removal of the placenta, and the hormones that it produces, is the trigger for breastmilk production.

How does breastmilk production work? According to Physiology and Endocrine Changes Underlying Human Lactogenesis II:

The evidence is summarized that progesterone withdrawal at parturition provides the trigger for lactogenesis in the presence of high plasma concentrations of prolactin and adequate plasma concentrations of cortisol.

Breastmilk production is divided into two stages: preparation for production, which occurs during pregnancy, as is known as lactogenesis I; and actual production of breastmilk after the birth of the baby, known as lactogenesis II.

In pregnancy:

As the levels of progesterone, prolactin and placental lactogen rise, the terminal ductal lobular units [the part of the breast that makes the milk] undergo a remarkable expansion so that each lobule comes to resemble a large bunch of grapes. During mid-pregnancy, secretory differentiation begins with a rise in mRNA for many milk proteins and enzymes important to milk formation. Fat droplets begin to increase in size in the mammary cells, becoming a major cell component at the end of pregnancy. This switch to secretory differentiation is called stage I lactogenesis. The gland remains quiescent but poised to initiate copious milk secretion around parturition.

But it is birth, specifically the expulsion of the placenta, that triggers milk production:

This period of quiescence depends on the presence of high levels of circulating progesterone; when this hormone falls around the time of birth, stage II lactogenesis or the onset of copious milk secretion ensues…

How does it happen?

It has long been known that abrupt changes in the plasma concentrations of the hormones of pregnancy set lactogenesis in motion … It is clear that a developed mammary epithelium, the continuing presence of levels of prolactin near 200 ng/mL and a fall in progesterone are necessary for the onset of copious milk secretion after parturition. That the fall in progesterone is the lactogenic trigger is supported by evidence from many species… In humans removal of the placenta, the source of progesterone during pregnancy in this species, has long been known to be necessary for the initiation of milk secretion. Furthermore, retained placental fragments with the potential to secrete progesterone have been reported to delay lactogenesis in humans. Thus, without a fall in progesterone, lactogenesis does not occur.

It’s an elegant system. The progesterone synthesized by the placenta to support the pregnancy, inhibits the production of breastmilk. When the baby is born and the placenta is expelled, the level of progesterone drops dramatically and this is the chemical trigger for production of copious breastmilk. This drop in progesterone is so critical to breastmilk production that even small fragments of the placenta left behind in the uterus can interfere with lactogenesis.

That’s how “unhindered” breast milk production is supposed to work. Eating the placenta, therefore, is an intervention, an intervention that interferes with the exquisitely coordinated rise and fall of various hormones in the postpartum period.

Eating the placenta is an excellent example of the profound ignorance of human physiology that undergirds most of homebirth and natural childbirth advocacy. Advocates have no clue how the actual physiologic processes of pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum work. They create a fantasy physiology where profound complications are “variations of normal,” where birth in water (unknown in any primate species) is natural, and where eating the placental hormones that suppress breastmilk production are supposed to promote breastmilk production.

Only someone profoundly ignorant of human physiology would recommend consuming placenta and only a gullible fool would actually do it.

  • BobTrent

    When we were preparing for our first homebirth, following my wife’s being frightened by her OB, we encountered placenta eating.
    My first response was, “Sounds cannibalistic to me! Don’t they know that up until the completion of birth, the placenta is part of the baby?”
    Our midwife was at that time a lay or direct entry midwife. She, a member of a SdA midwifery group, had backup from a midwifery-friendly OB.
    The births she attended for us were uneventful. She, like responsible midwives generally, did not take on clients who had preindications of complications.

    • fiftyfifty1

      “She, like responsible midwives generally, did not take on clients who had preindications of complications.”

      Do you mean to say
      A) Reasonable midwives generally don’t take risky patients.
      or
      B) Generally midwives are reasonable and thus don’t take risky patients?

      Because A may be true, but B sure ain’t, especially with our homebirth midwives here in the USA.

  • Captain Obvious
  • Tabitha Ziegler Yaffe

    Slightly OT, but not really.. This one wins for absurd birth story of the year, complete with the consumption of chopped raw placenta at the end. Read at your own risk! http://www.mothering.com/forum/17542-august-2014-due-date-club/1442569-very-long-ecstatic-birth-story-seraphina-iselle.html#post17936689

    • Amy M

      Oh good lord. What an idiot, if she still feels weak and lightheaded days later, then certainly the chopped placenta is doing nothing.

      • Anj Fabian

        No! It is working. It Is!

        Imagine how much worse off she would be if she hadn’t had her healing placenta elixir.

        ” The bleed had left me feeling really weak and dizzy and lightheaded, so
        I stayed in bed (and am actually still pretty much bed-bound).”

        Every time I read one of these stories with the obvious PPH and the woman flat on her back, barely able to stand up – I think of my c-sections and wonder how a VB that leaves you a near invalid is better.

        • Young CC Prof

          PPH is 100% natural. Active management of the third stage of labor is unnatural.

          Nature sucks.

    • guest

      How gross! These people are freaks.. I bet her hemoglobin was in her boots.. I wonder if she had an abruption and that’s why her placenta “shot out”…

    • Schnitzelbank

      I’m a little miffed that I wasn’t offered bowls of chopped placenta at the hospital. All I got was a turkey sandwich.

    • Brix

      Two months late, but this lady is cray! I’ve never seen such self involved navel gazing in my entire life! Her husband’s name is Eros?! They think they’re gods?! My goodness. The obnoxiously pretentious depth of the woo on this post is just beyond. Yuck. Thanks for sharing that link. That woman is nuts.

  • http://www.pediatricinsider.com/ Roy Benaroch MD

    Cannibalism is icky.

  • Dr. W

    Also, if you grind up the air filter in your car and sprinkle it over the engine, your car will be able to fly! The placenta is an important filter, and I think the immunology will be fascinating, but it is just a filter, getting blood form A to B.

  • Stephanie

    OT: I have decided to train as a doula and am looking for some scientifically based pregnancy and childbirth information to contrast against the required readings for Dona certification. I would love to provide an alternative to the woo-filled industry. Can anyone give me some good starting points?

    • Still tired

      Oh man, good luck. I decided to train as a midwife…

      I would recommend textbooks on basic life sciences. Anatomy, physiology, pathology, biochemistry, and pharmacology is a must. Combined with some skepticism and critical thinking.

      Warning: you will also need to work on a good poker face.

      • Stephanie

        Thank you for the recommendation. Fortunately, I am well versed in poker face through my current career. I considered training as a midwife until I learned that I would have to attend out of hospital births as part of the curriculum where I live in Canada. From what I hear there are a number of moms who would like additional support but don’t want to feel pressured into refusing pain relief or going natural.

        • MaineJen

          Yes! You are the kind of doula we need. Sadly, you are all too rare…

        • Cobalt

          I had a doula for my second birth, she was amazing. She was able to answer a lot of my technical questions about the birth process and why the nurses were doing this and that, give honest advice while I was in labor about getting comfortable, positioning, and what was next. No mystical woo, just real information. She reduced a lot of my fear just by being able to explain what was happening.

          I ended up with an uncomplicated, unmedicated, hospital birth. The outcome owed mostly to biology and luck, but she really helped make the process easier and less scary. It’s so hard for lay people to get real childbirth education.

          • Stephanie

            That is exactly the kind of doula I want to be! One that can explain the technical process, and what is going on while providing comfort measures.

          • Cody

            We’re out there but many of us don’t work for profit.

        • Still tired

          Yes, you would have to attend home births as a midwife in Canada. Would you be morally opposed to provide doula services to home birthing moms? The reason I’m asking is because I find that these clients are more likely to turn to doulas for extra support. The way I’m keeping my own peace with it is this – most midwifery clients here want to have a hospital birth. There’s a small subset that will not go for a hospital birth no matter what you say to them. For these women, having a properly trained midwife at home is better than having a ‘friend’ or an attempt at a DIY birth. So, damage control. I always talk to my clients about risks and limitations but you can’t obviously drag them to the hospital if they don’t want to go.

          It would be nice to have more no-BS doulas around. The poker face is useful once you start working and get exposed to your local ‘birthing community’ :-)

          • Stephanie

            I have unfortunately had close experience with two homebirth disasters. In the first, the midwife and mom assured the dad that a labour obstructed for over 24 hours was fine. At hour 48, mom finally agreed to a C-Section when dad threatened divorce. The little boy now has moderate delays.
            In the second disaster, a midwife I know lost a baby due to an undiagnosed herpes infection. She was comforted by other midwives that “no one could have known that rash was herpes” and “some babies weren’t meant to live”.
            These midwives were both trained in the Canadian model. While I support a woman’s right to choose where to give birth, I don’t want to watch it happen and am glad to let others take that risk. It seems that most other Doulas in my area are very excited to work with homebirth and I plan on leaving it to them.

          • Still tired

            Ugh. That’s terrible. Having more experience now with both home and hospital deliveries I believe that it’s not so much the place of birth as it is the provider. The obstructed labour and the herpes infection could have happened at the hospital just as easily…you know how we work – admit the woman, get her to the room, close the door. No one else interferes unless we think there is a problem and consult. If the midwife doesn’t see the problem or doesn’t want to see the problem, there is going to be harm done to the patient regardless of the place of birth. A homebirth is a complicating factor, for sure but I don’t think it is the primary reason for the bad outcomes you have mentioned.

          • Young CC Prof

            No, sorry, there are no hospitals in which one employee can “shut the door” on a woman and ignore her condition for over 24 hours. If nothing else, this hypothetical irresponsible midwife will eventually go off shift.

          • Still tired

            Not exactly what I meant. We ‘shut the door’ behind us so nobody really knows what’s happening in the room. We do communicate with the nurses re: dilation progress and such but other than that midwives are pretty much minding their own business. Plus, there are no shifts. Once you are with a client, you are expected to deliver her unless the labour is very long. Usually we call for relief after being up for for 24 hrs, sometimes longer.

    • theadequatemother

      Epidural without guilt by Gilbert grant!

      • Karen in SC

        That might be a good one to purchase as a donation for your local library.

      • Jessica

        Great book. And it’s free for download onto your Kindle from Amazon’s website. :)

        • Smoochagator

          Thanks for the tip! I just “purchased” it ;-)

    • Dr Kitty

      If you wanted an actual medical textbook, I recommend Impey’s Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
      I found it very straightforward and easy to understand as a medical student, and I’m sure you could get your hands on a second hand copy somewhere.

      Not really what you’re looking for, but I think you should aim big, for the broadest, deepest knowledge possible, so why not read a text that future OBs use.

    • Sue

      And Doula Dani’s blog! (she is a great role model)

    • Cody

      I would recommend speaking to doctors and nurses A LOT during your certifying births. The best information and experience I’ve gotten as a doula is from the hospital that I volunteer at.

  • Still tired

    Finally! Thank you for this. I was able to successfully divert a few women from wasting their money on placenta pills using this very piece of physiology and I’m proud of it. Cannot say the same about converting my colleagues, they remain skeptical.

    For the majority of wanna-be placentophages though, the word HORMONES works akin to a magic spell. Their eyes glaze over and then they are lost.

    By the way, “the gland remains quiescent…” sounds very poetic. A summer night, the Milky Way, crickets chirping…

  • Amy M

    The “spirit twin” thing always made me laugh. My twin boys are very close, possibly soul-mate level, but they’ve never uttered a word about missing their spirit triplet, which was unceremoniously taken to pathology and then dumped like the medical waste it is.

    People who think a placenta is a spirit twin clearly don’t have twins, are not twins themselves, and don’t know any twins. How can one be a spirit (twin) brother with a piece of meat?

    • Karen in SC

      And then why would the mother eat it? It would be more logical to feed to the fully born twin instead.

  • Amy M

    So is there any chance that a woman with little or no milk production, but with complete placental expulsion, could have high levels of progesterone for some other reason (therefore leading to the low/no milk)?

  • Rita Rippetoe

    I had read, way back in the 70s, that eating the placenta, if only a small piece, helped stop maternal bleeding.IIRC, it had to be raw, so I assume some hormone was supposed to be involved. I assume this would rule out freeze drying or other processing, not to mention that if Mom is bleeding out there is no time to encapsulate. Does anyone else recall this claim or what it was based on?

    As far as nature goes, eating it to keep it from attracting predators makes the most sense, as does getting back a dose of iron and protein at a time when the new mother may be unable to hunt or forage. Has anyone checked the anthropology data bases to find out whether any known culture consumed the placenta? So far I have only discovered China–but the article I read seemed to imply that it was not just for the mother but may have been eaten by outsiders seeking long life.

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      So far I have only discovered China–but the article I read seemed to imply that it was not just for the mother but may have been eaten by outsiders seeking long life.

      So more of a religious ritual as opposed to anything else, it would seem.

      • KarenJJ

        My Chinese colleague (grew up in Malaysia) ate his wife’s placenta (his grandma fried it up with some onion). His wife, who is from mainland China, was quite disgusted and refused to touch it.

        • Sue

          ONION?? BLEAGHHHH!!

          Everyone knows you only cook placenta with KALE!

          • KarenJJ

            True – his grandma probably cooked the sparkles right out of it with those onions!

      • Sue

        There is lots of ritualised body part eating in some aspects of traditional Chinese medicine and culture – notably things like bear bile, tiger bones, rhino horn…. being an ancient practice doesn’t make it valid…nor ethical.

    • Still tired

      Some midwives I know believe that a. Placenta contains a ton of oxytocin. b. Oxytocin will be absorbed from the oral mucosa and will control the PPH if given by mouth. Read = a raw piece of placenta sitting inside your cheek is good for bleeding control.

      I believe that buccal administration of oxytocin was tried way back then for labour induction as an alternative to IV oxytocin. Can’t imagine it was very efficient since oxytocin is a peptide and would have a hard time absorbing from inside the mouth…For postpartum hemorrhage, forget it, we cannot waste time waiting for it to absorb by mouth. Swallowing would be even worse because, akin to processing, it would alter the chemical structure of oxytocin and cleave it into little pieces. Useless.

      I don’t know why they think placenta contains a ton oxytocin, either…it’s made in the pituitary, then goes into the bloodstream, attaches to receptors on the uterine muscle. Action. Gets eliminated. That’s all…Anyone know?

      • Junebug

        I would need vomiting control.

      • Amy M

        I’m thinking they believe that because oxytocin is naturally secreted during labor, and would be found in the bloodstream (what’s the half life anyway?), that it might be “trapped” in the blood in the placenta.

        But, like all peptides, it would bind to a receptor, in the uterus, as you mention, and be “used up” as it were. Probably trace amounts would end up in the blood in the placenta, but for how long? And once the placenta is expelled–the blood will drain from it, no? I doubt there are any receptors for oxytocin in placenta itself, and even if there were, the bound form is likely not biologically available. You know what’s in placenta? Aromatase. Lots of it. Or at least high expression of mRNA for aromatase. Which is necessary for estrogen synthesis.

        Now here’s where I get ignorant: there are high levels of e2 during pregnancy, right? But after the baby is born, those levels drop, during lactation (after the placenta is gone), is this correct? And it is known that going on BCPs that contain estrogen can impede milk production. So, if the aromatase was actually biologically available and active, wouldn’t that be bad for milk production? I don’t think it would have much effect on bleeding.

        • Still tired

          Yes, it makes sense. Although I cannot say I have in-depth knowledge of …well, anything, really…but yes, placental aromatase converts androgens to estrogens and once placenta is gone, estrogen levels drop and lactation begins. So it would theoretically be a bad idea to ‘re-introduce’ aromatase. However, chances of it surviving enough to maintain its biological action are pretty slim when we are taking about ingesting it.

          After the placenta is expelled, there’s usually still some blood left in it but like you said, given the half life of oxytocin and likely minute concentrations of it in the placental blood pool, I don’t have much hope for any useful effects. Plus, the idea of sitting there with a cotyledon stuck in your buccal pouch seems disturbing. Taking it a level further, placentas come in different flavours and textures. You get meconium stained varieties, then the inflamed pus-covered ones…then there are calcified ones for that extra crunch..

          • Amy M

            Huh..I wonder if aromatase inhibitors would have any effect on lactation?

          • Still tired

            Probably. As well as many other effects. Hypothetically, if we take this almighty aromatase inhibitor that irreversibly blocks conversion in all peripheral tissues it’s going to chemically castrate the woman and will result in a gonadotropin spike (by negative feedback). The ovaries will try even harder to make estrogen but since there’s a block in place, we will just end up with a bunch of precursors, androgens. So we now have a hirsute lady with post-menopausal symptoms…ergh… Not a lactation-friendly situation. But then again, I can be wildly off. I haven’t reviewed my Pharma in a while!

  • Trixie

    Also, isn’t the placenta a repository of evil, dangerous TOXINS? These people are terrified of toxins.

    • Young CC Prof

      Silly Trixie. They aren’t afraid of REAL toxins, like metabolic wastes. They’re afraid of imaginary, unspecified toxins. Actually naming the toxin destroys its magical power to harm your human energy field.

      • Trixie

        No, I mean seriously, isn’t that one of the jobs of the placenta? To filter away bad stuff from the baby? So at the end, wouldn’t it have a certain level of heavy metals and PCBs and stuff?

        • MLE

          I think it sounds about as tasty as eating a dirty dish sponge.

        • Amy M

          Wouldn’t the mother’s liver play a role there?

      • Sue

        Only artificially-manufactured chemicals are toxic, doncha know?

      • toni

        Oh lord I have a FB friend always banging on about how sodium lauryl sulfate will give you cancer but totally unconcerned about her children being exposed to listeria from unpasteurized milk because it’s a myth

        • Young CC Prof

          Germ theory is just a theory, right? Like gravity?

        • sankoji

          I have one of those, too…complete with the same examples you’ve named. And that sunscreen’s efficacy is a myth, but letting yourself receive horrible burns on a daily basis is a healthy way of obtaining Vitamin D (because other moms told you that supplements could instead cause you to overdose.).

  • NoLongerCrunching

    Eating hormones doesn’t do anything. There’s a reason insulin needs to be injected; stomach acids destroy hormones because they are made of proteins and fats.

    • auntbea

      Protein and fat! YUM!

    • Susan

      I had the same thought but it’s not true of all hormones.. people take oral contraceptives, thyroid supplements, steroids….all orally. Sure this can be looked up but I don’t know why that’s true of insulin and what’s different. Oxytocin obviously can be IV, IM or buccal but I have never heard of oral.

      • Julia

        My guess would be because insulin is a peptide hormone, while oral contraceptives are steroid hormones and thyroid hormones are basically modified amino acids. Peptide bonds are hydrolyzed during digestion.

        • Sue

          Yet another example that it helps to know your biochemistry and physiology.

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        This was all addressed in the comments to yesterday’s post. I recommend checking that out.

  • auntbea

    Would eating the placenta actually do anything to hormone levels at all? Would it actually interfere with anything, exquisitely coordinated or otherwise?

    • Susan

      My first thought too… is there any evidence that the hormone levels really change when it’s eaten? I agree that it’s hooey woo unicorn shit but am curious if it really does interfere with lactogenesis or if that’s theoretical.

      • fiftyfifty1

        No evidence. I think this piece is just pointing out that when NCB types say “Eat the placenta–because HORMONES of course”, that they fail to realize that the hormones that they consume would if anything be sending them in the wrong direction from where their bodies need to go. In the end, the dosages they consume don’t matter, especially because most Placenta Charlatans recommend eating only a few capsules per day. The biggest danger, as others have mentioned, is food bourne illness and probably even worse than that just the $ you waste that could be better spent.

        • Still tired

          Given that it is, in fact, their placenta. There’s no way to find out. Heck, if I were to make money out of this, I’d come up with a bulk amount of some organic ground up substrate of no hazardous potential, prepare my pills ahead of time, and use placentas as…I dunno. Fertilizer? Cat food? Save myself time and effort, you know.

          • KarenJj

            Bury it under a tree in the backyard. Seems to be the tradition from NZ. Meant to be fantastic for fruit trees.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      It probably does nothing at all to hormone levels, but if it actually changed hormone levels it would have harmful effects, not beneficial effects.

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        I don’t think there is any reason to think it has harmful effects. Other animals, including apes, eat their placenta all the time. In fact, there is reason to think it provides an evolutionary advantage. Of course, most likely that advantage is that you don’t have raw flesh lying around to attract predators or other scavengers (I don’t think you want vultures picking around your nest if you are an orangutan, much less lions and tigers and bear oh my)

        • Young CC Prof

          That, and, well, it IS food. Calories, probably high in iron.

          Luckily, we have grocery stores, so I got to send my husband out to buy a steak, and let the placenta get dropped into a medical-waste chute somewhere.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            That, and, well, it IS food. Calories, probably high in iron

            In the same way that a dog eats it’s own vomit.

            But note that orangutans for example, unlike dogs, are mostly fruit eaters, and so nominally don’t eat organs, even fresh ones. You could make an argument that they are hungry immediately after giving birth and lacking stockpiled fruit they go for whatever is there, but I suspect there is also food available in captivity and they still go for the placenta.

          • Who?

            ‘In the same way a dog eats its own vomit’

            or anyone else’s…

            though he doesn’t care for alcohol laced vomit-which I know thanks to a party guest who shall remain unnamed…

          • Trixie

            I also wonder how effectively an herbivore even digests a placenta.
            Although, for an herbivore, it probably is an important way to get back some of the iron that was just expended.

          • Cobalt

            I’ve seen lots of equine births, not once did I see a mare show any interest in eating the placenta. A horse placenta is huge, it’s structure actually covers the entire uterus. It would fill a lot of belly.

          • Young CC Prof

            How much iron does a horse placenta actually have, though? Horses and the other big quadrupeds aren’t hemochorial, which means they don’t make the kind of literal blood sacrifice we do.

            That may be the weirdest question I’ve asked all week.

          • Cobalt

            I have no idea about iron content, but I’ve never known of a horse taking iron supplementation. I know they don’t bleed a whole lot in a typical birth, and if they deliver in the field the mare and foal are not near the birth site (and predator attractive placenta) very long.

        • KarenJJ

          Does the ape that give birth eat it? Or is it someone else.
          The other thing that would be different is that, even if it is the mother eating the placenta, they would be eating it in one go shortly after birth. Not eating little bits of it for weeks and weeks.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            Does the ape that give birth eat it?

            With the orang, it is definitely the mother, since she is the only one there. They give birth solitarily.

            But yeah, she eats it all up at once.

    • Still tired

      I don’t think anyone studied this. Here in Ontario the trend is on the rise so I’ve cared for maybe a couple dozen women who were taking the pills in the postpartum. Objectively, I haven’t noticed any effects. Most lactated just fine. I know, I know…observation isn’t much but better than nothing :)

  • gretta

    But Dr Amy!! I don’t understand them hard science words you are using. I’m just gonna ignore all that mumbo jumbo and believe this nice lady who keeps telling me about spirit twins and magic and other more funner stuff.

    • Haelmoon

      I don’t think I would want to eat the spirit twin of my child. Sounds wrong.

      • Cobalt

        Rude at the least.

        • Siri

          Honey, I ate the kids’ spiritual twins!

          • yugaya

            What about babies whose evil spiritual twin attempted to kill them? I’m seeing a whole new market there for placenta rebonding ritual that can be purchased either separately or as a part of the birth reclaiming ceremony: http://www.bellybelly.com.au/post-natal/birth-release-ceremony-healing-when-your-birth-didnt-go-to-plan#.U_TD02PKmWE

          • Young CC Prof

            Indeed, babies with 2 vessel cords or partial abruptions may need such rituals to prevent attachment disorders later in life. No matter how bad the heart rate gets during labor, a re-bonding ceremony will repair any damage!

  • Votre

    Will there ever come a time when some AG’s office works up the energy to prosecute some of these people for fraud? Last I heard, all the disclaimers in the world won’t absolve you (or your seminars or books or videos) of legal liability for knowingly promulgating documentable falsehoods when you’re offering advisements for a price.

    • Who?

      Probably there are bigger fish to fry-and if I wanted to go after this crowd for fraud it would be around the nonsense they talk about the safety of homebirth not the weird uselessness of consuming a placenta.

      And if we wanted to get started on the lotions and potions and powders and poultices they sell, they would probably be lined up behind the entire homeopathic product industry, which every woo-giddy person will tell you is not an arm of big pharma.

  • AL

    A little OT, but I hope that Lactation consultants are aware of this. My best friend delivered her baby in May and had super low milk supply. Her milk didn’t come in until day 8 or 9. Then her bleeding kicked up at the 5 week mark. At her 6 week follow up, turns out she had placental fragments still attached, which is probably why her milk output was so horrible. Of course, lac consultant told her to pump and feed, and basically not sleep. She supplements with formula and her supply seems to have gone up since her D&C, but the whole pump and feed until you kill yourself obv wasn’t going to work considering there was a physical reason why she couldn’t produce milk.

    • anh

      I’ve been somewhat astounded by the lack of knowledge of some lactation consultants. Mine told me I just randomly had low supply and that my daughter’s tongue tie was unrelated. When I said she wasn’t really nursing, and perhaps not stimulating my breast she said it was because I wasn’t making enough milk to interest her.

      Another commented my daughter was a lazy latcher because her upper lip never stayed flared out and always rolled in. She scolded me quite seriously. A two second check would have revealed she had a lip tie too.

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        With our younger, our LC decided he had a lazy lower lip or something. However, instead of blaming my wife or anything, she showed us how to pull his lip out to fix it. That was helpful.
        We had to do it every time for the first while, but it worked

      • Guesteleh

        My son had an abnormal latch that multiple LCs failed to diagnose. We didn’t figure out the problem until he was a year old and diagnosed with a mechanical issue that prevented him from eating solid foods unless they were purees. Our OT said it should’ve been screamingly obvious that he had an abnormal latch, especially since my nipples looked like hamburger. I have zero faith that LCs are being consistently trained to a real professional standard.

        • Amy M

          I remember calling an LC,when about 2wk postpartum, I got plugged ducts. From that point on, they were constant—every 3hrs, I would work out one or more plugs, only to have the same one or new ones pop up for the next pumping. It didn’t matter what bra I wore, or anything. So I called an LC, for some help and she couldn’t suggest anything more than what I already saw online (apply heat and massage the plug until it goes away.) I don’t know, maybe that’s all anyone CAN do, but it wasn’t very helpful. It only took a week of that to develop mastitis, and after another week, I decided it was a waste of time. I didn’t really have any breastfeeding goals, and I wasn’t sorry to stop, but I remember feeling like calling the LC was totally pointless. I wonder how the really stellar LCs would have handled that?

    • MichelleJo

      I’ve long thought that all ‘breastfeeding counselors’ in the UK and ‘lactation consultants’ in the US should be arrested for child abuse. They have no business sticking their uneducated selves into an area so critical.

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        To quote random unnamed people, “Not all lactation consultants are bad.” So we can’t arrest all of them.

        However, I have no problem assessing them on a case-by-case basis. Although I would like to see the good ones take more of a stand against the bad ones.

        • MichelleJo

          I am under no illusions of this happening any time soon. Can you imagine what would happen if a lactivist were taken to court accused of causing the starvation of a baby? She’d be an instant celebrity, being ‘persecuted by doctors’. Their lobby and sheer numbers are just too strong. The law hasn’t even been able to stop staight out baby killers to continue their work.

        • Trixie
          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            I wish there were more like her, for sure.

      • Young CC Prof

        I think the key problem is that there IS a lack of breastfeeding science. It’s like where actual medicine was a bit more than 100 years ago.

        However, while a few researchers are doing actual science, most of them are actively fighting against it. Try talking honestly about breastfeeding problems, you aren’t welcome at the table, because you’re “sabotaging” nursing relationships. Well, maybe some relationships need sabotaging.

  • fiftyfifty1

    “They create a fantasy physiology [...] where birth in water (unknown in any primate species) is natural.”

    This reminds me of an exchange that I heard occurred at my hospital. As I’ve mentioned earlier, the CNM group that delivers there has become increasingly woo worshiping. They are continuing to promote water births despite already experiencing a couple of cord avulsion events and having to address a visible-slime-found-coating-the-birth-pool-despite-already-having-been-cleaned-by-housekeeping problem.
    Anyway, apparently one of the CNMs was holding forth about the seal diving reflex. One of the OBs listened and then replied “But I deliver human babies, not seal babies, so I will be delivering on dry land”. Which I thought was a clever reply. Although actually an even more clever, and more accurate reply would have been “Even seals leave the water and deliver on dry land”.

    • guest

      Good one!

    • auntbea

      Visible slime? *whimper*

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        That was my reaction as well.

      • fiftyfifty1

        Well, the L&D nurse who discovered the problem told me that she actually discovered it by feel when her hand touched it. She looked at it and couldn’t initially see anything amiss until she looked so close that her nose was almost touching it and then she was able to see that there were patches of slime coating scattered across the surface.

        • Guesteleh

          That’s not better. *retch*

        • jenny

          OMG ew. Biofilm. THAT’S totally no big deal.

          • Petanque

            Bacterial biofilm is completely natural!

    • Who?

      Surely cleaning out a birthing tub involves a bit more than a quick once over with the Vim or Gumption? Though I guess it only stays clean until the freshly showered (someone please assure me she is freshly showered) new-mamma-to-be climbs in?

      The whole idea is gross.

    • jenny

      Cord avulsion??? Please tell me the baby was ok. :(

  • fiftyfifty1

    “It’s an elegant system”

    Meh. I would call it a good enough most of the time system.

    • Young CC Prof

      I would venture to say that most biological systems are beautiful and elegant in design, but in practice only usually good enough.

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      My definition of “elegant” is “stupidly simple.” In that respect, I think calling the process elegant is reasonable. It’s set up so that the detach of placenta triggers the production of milk. That’s pretty slick, since that is something that is common to births. Moreover, it’s a binary switch. Placenta there: don’t do it. Placenta gone: go

      And it explains why you can get milk production from a c-section, without having to go through labor.

      Yes, there are complications due to retained placenta, but that’s where the “good enough” comes in. The mechanism itself, as my old buddy would say, is “slicker than snot.”

      • Roadstergal

        Is it easier to ensure that the placenta is entirely removed with a C-section than a VB?

        • Susan

          Yes.

          • Roadstergal

            That was what I thought. It seems to be another way to get NCBers caught in a logical loop. “Is breastfeeding the most important thing in the world, ever? Then be sure you have a C-section.”