It seems more recently that doulas, at-home births and cloth diapers are becoming all the rage. The more intimate and personal a mother’s birth experience can be the better. But when Mad Men leading lady January Jones was reportedly eating her own placenta for health benefits, we had to wonder why.
At a recent press event promoting the new season of Man Men, Jones reportedly told People Magazine that she takes dehydrated placenta capsules when she’s feeling tired or blue.
“It’s not witch-crafty or anything,” said Jones. “I suggest it to all moms!”
Ater giving birth to her son Xander just weeks prior, the 34-year-old single mom returned to the set of Mad Men, which is why some have speculated that her capsules may be working.
However, there’s no conclusive evidence that it does. According to a recent article from New York Magazine, placenta is known to contain high levels of iron and Vitamin B-12, and even certain hormones, which is why activists tout its nutritional value. However, there’s no conclusive study confirming these links.
But advocates insist this practice helps mothers in a variety of ways, including milk flow and mood boosts for those suffering from postpartum depression. Jennifer Mayer, a professional placenta-preparer living in upstate New York, keeps plenty busy with her business, preparing placentas in a number of ways including half-cooked, half-raw, and even dehydrated, blended and stuffed into capsule, like Jones prefers it.
To Mayer, it make sense. “They’re happy pills,” she says. “They’re made by your body, for your body. Why wouldn’t you want to try?”
But with no solid evidence, it still seems like a far leap to many. DietsInReview.com’s registered dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD, weighs in.
“The placenta is a vehicle nutrient delivery for the baby throughout the pregnancy. As such, it contains highly concentrated amounts of many nutrients, including as iron, B-vitamins, protein, essential fatty acids, and other vitamins, minerals and trace minerals.
“Throughout most of time all around the globe, women consumed the placenta in some edible form directly postpartum, much like animals do instinctively. The practice was essential to help a postpartum woman replenish her nutrient reserves; furthermore, in primitive cultures, no food goes to waste. Now days, since most people are already well-nourished, there is no benefit or no reason to do it; however, there is no reason not to do it either, and it remains nutritionally beneficial.
“In terms of hormones, the placenta does contain high levels of estrogen and progesterone, but they are not transferred to the mother when she eats the placenta. Hormones are proteins that are broken down during digestion. That’s why insulin, another hormone, is injected and not taken orally. Subjective benefits claimed by placenta eaters (less depression, etc.) may be real or imagined, but have not been studied.”