Placenta: A Cure for Postpartum Depression?

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Placenta: A Cure for Postpartum Depression?

Can consuming your placenta after childbirth prevent postpartum depression? Learn more about alternative ways to prevent PPD.

Delivering a child into the world is generally thought to be one of the happiest moments of a woman’s life, yet approximately 10-15% of women develop postpartum depression (PPD) each year. PPD differs from “baby blues,” which only lasts for a couple of weeks after delivering. Postpartum depression is a serious illness that can last up to months after childbirth and can severely impact the emotional relationship between mother and child.

One of the causes of PPD is the dramatic change in hormones that occurs after childbirth. Those who have had a history of depression, poor support from friends and family, and sleep problems increase their risk of developing postpartum depression. Symptoms include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, and loss of pleasure in regular activities
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • Trouble sleeping or concentrating
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss

A growing trend, yet unfamiliar in other cultures, is the practice of consuming the placenta (placentophagia) after delivery. According to Mark B. Kristal, PhD, the director of Behavioral Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Buffalo, placentophagia first gained popularity in the 1970s. Since then, creative recipes and instructional cooking videos have been made available for the public on sites like YouTube.

Consuming one’s placenta has potential benefits such as rebalancing hormone levels that can actually reduce women’s risk of developing postpartum depression. Growing companies that specialize in placenta preparation, where your placenta is dried, ground, and packaged into pills, have advocated for women to try what they are calling, “happy pills.” Currently, there is not enough scientific evidence to validate the claims of placentophagia curing postpartum depression, as noted by Kristal.

Other ways to prevent PPD are:

  • Eating foods that are rich in omega-3: Walnuts and fish are high in omega-3, a fatty acid that has been shown to be effective against PPD. 
  • Getting vitamin D: Studies indicate that vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression; therefore, going outside into the sunlight and walking is one way to fight PPD.
  • Support: It is okay to ask friends and family for help alleviating some of the load when caring for your newborn. Support groups with women who have experienced PPD have also been known to help women overcome PPD.
  • Sleep: Getting as much rest as possible can really benefit you in order to prevent symptoms of PPD.

Are you willing to consume your placenta to avoid postpartum depression? Leave a comment to share your thoughts!

Written by Katherine Chua

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