A Literature Review on the Practice of Placentophagia

Nurs Womens Health. 2016 Oct-Nov;20(5):476-483. doi: 10.1016/j.nwh.2016.08.005.


Placentophagia (consuming the placenta) has historically not been a common practice among humans. Over the past few decades the practice has gained attention as more women, particularly educated, middle-class, White American women, choose to partake in this practice. Purported benefits of placentophagia include pain relief, increased breast milk production, and decreased risk of postpartum depression; however, there is a lack of evidence to support these claims. The placenta can be consumed raw, cooked, or encapsulated; it can be used for keepsakes; or it can be used to make topical applications such as dermatologic creams and hair-growth products. Placentophagia has typically been viewed as a personal choice, resulting in little rigorous scientific research on the topic. More research is necessary to determine if the purported health benefits of placentophagia are proven.

Keywords: eating the placenta; literature review; placenta; placenta encapsulation; placentophagia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Ceremonial Behavior*
  • Choice Behavior
  • Depression, Postpartum / prevention & control
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology*
  • Placenta*
  • Postnatal Care / methods
  • Postpartum Period / psychology*
  • Pregnancy