When my very pregnant friend called recently to tell me that she had arranged for her placenta to be encapsulated and invited me to come watch the whole process, it was a dream come true. I had been passively bringing it up in conversation for nine months.
“I heard some ladies like to eat their placentas because it gives them nutrients that they would otherwise lose after giving birth.”
“Oh yeah, they’re like, really nutritious and shit…”
But while I talked confidently about the process with my friend, I had heard stories from other women about bureaucratic nightmares that required paying a coroner to transport the placenta from the hospital to a funeral home, and then convincing the funeral home to “release” the placenta to you, so you can take it back to your house and eat it. The people I had spoken with weren’t Canadian, though, and after doing a bit of research, I learned that our laws here are way more lax—taking your placenta home in Canada is as easy as putting it in a plastic bag and saying "bye". Also, it helps to tell the hospital that it’s for religious purposes. Otherwise they’re all like, “???”
Women choose to consume their placentas, technically known as placentophagy, because giving birth is a painful, kooky process that tends to suck the life out of everyone who experiences it, and the placenta has a buttload of nutrients in it that some say can help curb postpartum depression. Pretty much all other mammals (except for camelids, but I mean, come on, look at them) eat their placentas in a bloody, gore-filled wrath as soon as their babies pop out.
My friend’s placenta, smiling for the camera.
As you can see, placentas are pretty much just as disgusting as any other animal by-product that you would come across in a grocery store. The first steps in preparing it for consumption, I learned, are to remove the umbilical cord and the membrane-sac thingy that held the baby in place, and then drain the veins of excess blood.
Boop. It smelled like metal and pussy.
Stacey, our chef and a former placenta curator from an Amazonian utopia, I’m pretty sure, said that even if the effect her capsules produced was only a placebo, the tedious process was still worth it because postpartum is such a debilitating experience to go through.
As a person who is no stranger to eating her own bodily fluids, it felt really nice to be able to speak with someone who didn’t give a fuck about consuming placentas. She was very knowledgeable and relaxed, with a no-bullshit attitude that made me want to spread the word about weird shit going on in the postnatal health world, even if it is borne out of my own novelty seeking.
After Stacey got my friend’s placenta cleaned up, we put it in this steamer to cook. Then she told us a story about a woman who prepared her placenta in lasagna and shared it with her family as a communal gift. We laughed.
I told Stacy that I was getting hungry, and that I desperately wanted to eat my friend’s placenta. “This isn’t going to do anything for you,” she said. “A woman’s placenta works specifically for her because it’s already prepared with the nutrients that her body needs.”
I was crestfallen, but I knew she was right—every body is different. New mothers are prescribed medications to balance out their hormone levels and bring their energy back up to par, although I don’t think that would be necessary if everyone practiced autocannibalism.
Mmm… baby sacs.
“So, it’s full of iron, eh?” I asked, feeling slightly discomforted by the pungent smell of metal assaulting my olfactory.
“Yeah, it’s loaded with iron,” said Stacey.
I realized then that it had been nearly a decade since I’ve touched iron-rich foods. I’ve always attributed my deep disdain for red meat to the fact that my blood type metabolizes iron easily. It’s like my tongue just knows what nutrients my body needs. Sort of like how babies just know how to suck on titties or how mammals know to stick this bloody baby sac back into their bodies. Despite the fact that I wouldn’t be getting any nutritional value out of my friend’s placenta, I was still determined to eat it. The thought of putting this shit into my mouth made me feel like a savage animal—both disgusted and honored to have it become a part of me.
Next, the pieces of my friend’s placenta got dehydrated until they turned out looking like bacon strips. Little baby bacon strips.
Then Stacey blended the pieces into a encapsulate-able powder.
It didn’t take long before 125 capsules of postpartum magic were produced right before my eyes. So, naturally, I rocketed one into my mouth as soon as I got the chance.
It tasted so fucking pungent, like crackers, steak, and a scrap-metal junkyard. But in a lasagna, I can definitely see it blending in, no problem. Actually, if you are considering getting your placenta encapsulated after all this, I would say it’s fair to just skip the banality of the preparation process and cook it yourself. Encapsulation took a full day, but you could just put it in a sandwich. I imagine it would make a decent PLT.
Stacey saved a piece of the raw placenta and fermented it into a tincture. She suggested that my friend keep it until menopause, so that she can use it yet again for its hormone-balancing benefits.
After everything is said and done, I would give my friend’s placenta four magic postpartum-depression antidotes out of five.
If, for some unfathomable reason, you’re still not convinced that you want to eat the giant pouch you shit out of your pussy, please check out Placentabenefits.info for more information.
Previously by Kara Crabb - Myths About Science Education