So, as a man, I am not qualified to really speak to the emotional side of this issue. All I know is that, as the baby grows inside of a woman, so does the placenta. And when they both come out, you can keep one but not the other.
Seem strange? I thought so, so I looked into it.
First of all, many of you are probably thinking, “why on Earth would you want to take that veiny, bloody blob home with you?” It’s a fair question.
Some people like to plant a tree over their baby’s placenta as a sort of memorial for the day that they are born. The child grows, the tree grows and families have something special to look to and remember as the years pass.
Some women want to eat their placenta. If this seems strange to you, consider the fact that every mammal (with the exception of water mammals like whales and seals and, strangely, camels) eat their placenta. Even herbivores like deer and giraffes eat their placentas. Behaviorally, some argue, this is to hide any evidence of a recent birth from potential predators who would be clued-in to the fact that young, defenseless prey are afoot. There are, however, some serious health benefits to eating the placenta.
A 2013 UNLV study published in the journal Ecology, Food and Nutrition surveyed 189 women who ate their placentas after childbirth. 76 percent reported positive experiences including a lack of post-partum depression, improved lactation and a better overall mood.
Now if that seems extremely, shall we say, icky to you, never fear! You can have your placenta dried, ground up and put in capsule to be taken like a pill over time. A lot of new mothers are opting for this method these days… if they are allowed.
Now let me ask you: Imagine you are skeptical. This seems like some weird new-agey stuff and it’s downright gross to you. Maybe you don’t have to imagine that. Maybe that’s how your really feel. Fine. Fair enough. The question is, does that matter? Shouldn’t a woman have the right to take ownership of something she grew inside her own body, something that is a natural and normal process of bearing children, something that every female mammal on Earth shares? Doesn’t that just seem like pretty basic human rights? I would think so.
The problem is, many hospitals in the U.S. don’t allow it without a court order. Their reasoning is that the placenta is basically a human organ, and there are laws pertaining to transporting human organs that are designed to protect public health. And that’s totally fair in most cases. My criticism is that this isn’t the real reason.
The truth is, hospitals make quite a bit of cash off selling placentas–or parts of them. There was quite a scandal in the UK a few years ago when it came to light that hospitals were selling placentas to cosmetic companies for research and development. They got £5,000 a pop for a placenta, which is the equivalent of about $7,200.
But the real money maker is the cord blood. The blood inside an umbilical cord is chock full of stem cells, which are incredibly valuable because of their use in research labs and how difficult it is to get a hold of a good batch of stem cells. But often, cord blood doesn’t even go to research–because maybe we could justify that being for the greater good. Stem cells signal new tissue growth and are useful for repairing damage, even age-related damage. So many times, it’s sold to clinics whose clients are wealthy vain people looking for a fountain of youth for as much as $12,000 for an injection of straight cord blood stem cells. Stem cells signal new tissue growth and are useful for repairing damage, even age-related damage.
In short, ladies, your baby’s placenta is turned into cash for somebody else and institutional structures are set up to make it as difficult for you to take possession of something you grew in your own body. That doesn’t seem right.
Luckily, some states are seeing the light. In 2013, the state of Oregon passed a law that allows women to take their placentas home if they wish without any bureaucratic red tape. Let’s just hope others start following suit.
Dr. Aaron Ernst, D.C. is host of News Talk 1110 WBT’s “AskDrErnst” show and clinic director of Maximized Living Charlotte.
He specializes in providing customized nutritional and detoxification total body healing programs, utilizing the 5 Essentials of Maximized Living.