Background: Human maternal placentophagy is gaining popularity among a growing number of women who believe it provides maternal benefits, including prevention of postpartum blues/depression, improved maternal bonding, and reduced fatigue.
Methods: We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study (N=27) in which participants consumed either their processed, encapsulated placenta (n=12), or similarly prepared placebo (n=15). Maternal mood, bonding, and fatigue were assessed via validated scales across four time points during late pregnancy and early postpartum. Psychometric data were analyzed for changes between and within both groups over time.
Results: No significant main effects related to maternal mood, bonding, or fatigue were evident between placenta and placebo group participants. However, examination of individual time points suggested that some measures had specific time-related differences between placenta and placebo groups that may warrant future exploration. Though statistical significance should not be interpreted in these cases, we did find some evidence of a decrease in depressive symptoms within the placenta group but not the placebo group, and reduced fatigue in placenta group participants at the end of the study compared to the placebo group.
Conclusions: No robust differences in postpartum maternal mood, bonding, or fatigue were detected between the placenta and placebo groups. This finding may be especially important for women considering maternal placentophagy as a 'natural' (i.e., non-pharmacological) means of preventing or treating blues/depression. Given the study limitations, these findings should be interpreted as preliminary. Small, time-related improvements in maternal mood and lower fatigue post-supplementation among placenta group participants may warrant further research.
Keywords: Baby blues; Complementary and alternative medicine; Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale; Placentophagia; Postpartum health.
Copyright © 2017 Australian College of Midwives. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.