Introduction: Clinical studies conducted in the early to mid-twentieth century, and recent self-reports by some maternal placentophagy practitioners, suggest that human maternal placentophagy improves breast milk quality and quantity, although little research has evaluated this claim. Some placentophagy providers and advocates suggest that increased prolactin levels after placenta ingestion could account for the purported lactation benefits. The current study was conducted to evaluate these claims by comparing plasma prolactin levels of women consuming steamed, dehydrated, and encapsulated placenta with those of women consuming a placebo. Neonatal weight gain was also compared between the 2 groups.
Methods: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial was conducted in which postpartum women (N = 27) were given a supplement containing their dehydrated placenta (n = 12) or placebo (n = 15). Plasma prolactin concentrations were measured 4 times across late pregnancy and early postpartum, and neonatal weights were recorded 3 times over the first 3 weeks postpartum.
Results: The results showed no statistically significant (P < .05) differences in either plasma prolactin levels or neonatal weight gain between groups.
Discussion: Maternal consumption of steamed, dehydrated, and encapsulated placenta postpartum does not appear to affect maternal postpartum prolactin or neonatal weight in the first 3 weeks postpartum. Further research is needed to investigate the possible effects of variation in placenta preparation methods or daily intake on human lactation.
Keywords: encapsulated placenta; placentophagia; placentophagy; postpartum supplement.
© 2019 by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.