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A small number of women choose to participate in the controversial practice of consuming their placentas after giving birth. Some women believe that placental consumption is beneficial because of all the nutrients it contains, and women who eat it might think that they are replenishing some of the nutrients they lost during childbirth. Other alleged benefits of eating placenta include better breast milk production and a decrease in the likelihood of developing postpartum depression. There are many people who are opposed to eating placenta because they believe that it is very unappetizing and could technically be considered a form of cannibalism. Many people also think that there is no reason to eat placenta and that the supposed health benefits do not actually exist.
It is true that the placenta contains estrogen and progesterone, and it might be possible for the presence of these hormones in a woman's body after childbirth to help some with postpartum depression because of how wildly hormone levels tend to fluctuate just after giving birth. Eating placenta is a common practice within some cultures, but women rarely do it in Western civilization. It also is a fact that most mammals eat their placentas, and women who choose to eat theirs tend to use this along with the fact that women in other cultures eat placenta as arguments to defend their choice.
The majority of women do not bother with eating placenta because they believe it would taste bad, either cooked or raw, and because they don't see any benefit in doing so. Another school of thought is that eating placenta is actually cannibalism because it is a part of the human body. People who are in favor of consuming the placenta counter the cannibalism accusation by arguing that eating it does not actually harm anyone because it is a part of the body that is no longer needed.
There have been very few studies done on the benefits of placental consumption, and the research as of 2011 does not indicate that eating it would be especially beneficial for a woman who has just given birth. The general consensus by the scientific community was that consuming this part of the afterbirth is actually neither harmful nor particularly helpful. A woman who is considering this practice after she gives birth should make her choice based on the advice of her doctor and her personal feelings on the subject.
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