Placentophagy is the practice of consuming placenta after childbirth. It's common among mammals and gaining popularity with humans too, especially after celebrity moms have endorsed it as a way to ward off postpartum depression, increase milk production, replenish nutrients, and speed recovery after delivery.
Like other organ meats, placenta is nutritional powerhouse. It's full of protein, vitamins like B6 and B12, and minerals like iron. Unlike other organ meats, placenta is also a source of hormones like progesterone and estrogen. Research studies that compared animals who ate their placentas to those who didn't have found that placentophagy induced changes in levels of pituitary and ovarian hormones that support milk production, but so far there are no conclusive studies in humans.
Placenta can be consumed raw, cooked, dehydrated, encapsulated, or tinctured. For best results, fresh placenta should be treated like any other fresh organ meat: store it in the fridge, use it as soon as possible or within three days, and if you feel sick after eating it, discard the rest. Women who want to save their placenta and plan to give birth in a hospital should make arrangements ahead of time because if it is stored in formaldehyde, it won't be safe to consume.
While several recipes using placenta exist -- including lasagna, chili, burgers, fajitas, curries, kebabs and even truffles -- adding heat may affect the nutritional value. I chose to freeze my placenta in 1-inch chunks (after removing extraneous connective tissue) and blend it into smoothies. Here is one of my favorite recipes:
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup whole milk organic yogurt
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1-inch piece of placenta (fresh or frozen)
Add the ingredients to a Vitamix or other powerful blender in the order they are listed above and blend until completely smooth. Eat immediately.