Learn about the purported benefits and possible dangers of ingesting placenta capsules, according to experts.
Mandy Moore just welcomed her second child, a son named Ozzie, and she's already revealing behind-the-scenes snippets of life as a mom of two with fans. In the mix: A photo of placenta pills. (Read more: Why Mandy Moore Felt 'A Lot of Shame' During Her Parenthood Journey)
Earlier this week, the This Is Us star shared a picture of a bottle of pills on her Instagram Story, reports People. "Made by you for you filled with...your placenta and a whole lot of love," reads the bottle's label. In text posted on top of the snap, the actress and singer tagged The Feel Good Company, the brand that seemingly made the pills, adding "Round 2."
Moore didn't offer any more details on the pills or why she's taking them, but she's hardly the first new mom to take placenta pills.
ICYDK, placenta pills are encapsulated pills that contain a woman's placenta, the organ that grows during pregnancy that connects a mom to her baby, explains women's health expert, Jennifer Wider, M.D. The pills are a method of placentophagia, which is the process of a new mom consuming her placenta after she gives birth. (It's common for non-human mammals to eat their placenta, by the way.)
With placenta pills, the placenta is dehydrated and turned into a powder that is then put into pills a new mom can take, explains The Feel Good Company online. This is the most common placenta preparation, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Okay, but…why? "The practice has been around for centuries — it's recommended in Chinese medicine — and the idea makes sense," says Dr. Wider. "The placenta is full of nutrients." People theorize taking placenta pills can help with a slew of things, including decreasing the risk of anemia and postpartum depression, balancing hormones, increasing energy and milk supply, and aiding sleep, says Dr. Wider.
"The idea became very trendy a few years ago when many popular celebrities were outspoken about trying it," continues Dr. Wider. Hilary Duff, Chrissy Teigen, and Kim Kardashian have all spoken out about eating their placenta. "Most ingested in the pill form, where the placenta is dried, prepped, and encapsulated," adds Dr. Wider.
But for all of the chatter surrounding placenta pills, it's hard to say if they actually do anything. "The truth is, there isn't much science to back up the benefits in human beings," says Wider.
In fact, taking placenta pills can even be dangerous. Placenta pills can be made one of two ways: the raw method, where the placenta isn't cooked before it's dehydrated; and the traditional Chinese method, where the placenta is gently warmed before it's dehydrated. "There are plenty of potential dangers, especially if it's ingested raw," explains Dr. Wider. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned against the practice in 2017 after an infant became sick with group-B strep caused by the mother ingesting placenta pills after giving birth.
Christine Greves, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, has spoken to several patients about ingesting placenta. "I always ask, 'Why do you want to eat your placenta?'" she says. "If they say they have a history of depression or are worried about having enough nutrients for their baby, I talk to them about proven methods that have been shown to be helpful." Those include talk therapy and antidepressants for postpartum depression and making sure to stimulate your breasts regularly through pumping or nursing to ensure an adequate milk supply.
While Dr. Wider recommends taking a "hard pass" on placenta pills, Dr. Greves suggests having a conversation with your doctor about your concerns. "They should be able to help guide you," she says.