Ingestion of human placenta or placentophagy became a trending topic among netizens over the past week.
The placenta is the round, flat organ which connects the mother to her baby in the uterus. According to webmd.com, its primary purpose is to "deliver oxygen, nutrients, and hormones to the baby," as well as, take off the harmful chemicals and waste products which can harm the baby.
The topic received mixed reactions from believers and non-believers after actress Jennica Garcia, who recently gave birth to her second baby girl, revealed on Instagram that she prepared herself a smoothie made from her child's placenta.
But Jennica is just one of the many celebrities who have ingested their own placenta for its supposed medical benefits.
Kylie Padilla and Paula Peralejo-Fernandez also did the same.
Hollywood stars including sisters Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, Alicia Silverstone, and January Jones also believe in the health benefits of ingesting one's own placenta.
With popular names in the entertainment scene being more open about this practice, many moms wonder if this really helps.
PLACENTOPHAGY. Placentophagy has become a growing trend among moms in Western countries, but this has been present in Asian culture for centuries.
According to the South China Morning Post, the medical benefits of Placentophagy were discovered in China around 1500s.
Since then, it has been part of traditional Chinese medicine.
Some of its reported benefits include "aiding postnatal recovery, reducing bleeding, and increasing breast milk production."
It is also said to help lower chances of insomnia and postpartum depression, and helps boost energy, according to Webmd.com.
One of the most popular ways of consuming placenta is by converting it into a pill. Most of the time, they are prepared by midwives or doulas.
According to Smartparenting.com.ph, placenta capsules are said to help in producing certain hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, prolactin, prostaglandin, Human Placental Lactogen (hPL), and oxytocin, among many others.
Kylie and Paula took theirs in capsules prepared by their doula, Irina Otmakhova of Conscious Birth Manila, who is also a mother of two children.
Irina told Smartparenting.com.ph that she usually heats it first with herbs and dehydrates it for 10 hours before putting it into capsules.
Others have tried eating it raw by turning it into a smoothie mixed with fruits.
Irina, however, warned moms to carefully prepare their placenta if they're consuming it raw, since it might cause a bacterial infection towards the mother and her baby.
She said, "The enzymes contained in the placenta stayed intact, but there is a risk that not all bacteria has been dealt with during the preservation."
DOES IT REALLY WORK? In her blog, Paula attests to the reported health benefits of placenta pills.
She wrote, "The placenta is composed of beneficial hormones, chemicals, irons, and protein. That’s why it has a lot of healing properties. "
For her part, Kylie wrote on Instagram that placenta pills have "so much nutrients and magical healing powers that could be useful even after birth."
In Irina's Instagram post on June 27, she said her placenta pills helped her a lot after her second pregnancy.
"I saved some of my placenta capsules to take during the onset of the first menstruation after a long break thanks to breastfeeding on demand.
"The hormones contained in your placenta will help to ease the transition, minimize the tenderness and cramping. So thankful I had the placenta pills this time around."
Experts, however, claim that the health benefits of ingesting placenta have yet to be medically proven.
Dr. Claudette Mendiola, M.D., an obstetrician-gynecologist at De Los Santos Medical Center in Quezon City, told Smartparenting.com.ph, "it's generally not recommended that you do so."
Hong Kong-based obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Charas Ong told the South China Morning Post, "Women who advocate eating placenta get information from their friends and the media, but there are no good studies out there to support their claims, so we can’t really say that the practice has any real benefits."
Nevertheless, the mother still holds the decision of whether to consume her placenta or not.