Marie Claire (South Africa) - - MUST READ -

SE YOUR FAVOURITE LASAGNE RECIPE and sub­sti­tute this mix­ture for one layer of cheese,’ reads the on­line recipe. And there’s noth­ing at all sur­pris­ing about that un­til, in the same blithe and mat­ter-of-fact way, it con­tin­ues: ‘In two ta­ble­spoons olive oil, quickly sauté meat of three-quar­ters of pla­centa, ground or minced, plus two sliced cloves of gar­lic, half a tea­spoon oregano, half a diced onion and two ta­ble­spoons of tomato paste, or one whole tomato.’

Yes, that’s right. The cru­cial in­gre­di­ent in this dish is in­deed pla­centa. And like pla­centa chilli and roast pla­centa, it’s just one of the more pop­u­lar and sev­er­ally posted such recipes eas­ily found on­line and in the smor­gas­bord of pla­centa-ded­i­cated cook­ery books.

If it sounds a lit­tle, um, Han­ni­bal Lecter to you, your op­tions don’t stop there. When it comes to pla­cen­tophagy (as pla­centa con­sump­tion is more cor­rectly called), there’s a vast menu that in­cludes smooth­ies, raw ver­sions and cap­sules.

‘Some women have mixed it into a smoothie or even taken it raw to tap into its pow­er­ful e ects,’ says Cape Town mid­wife Sis­ter Sandy Stan­dish. ‘For many who feel squea­mish about this or want to reap the bene ts of pla­centa for more than just a day or two, there is an­other op­tion: en­cap­su­la­tion (the process through which the pla­centa is dried, pow­dered and then put into tablet form).’

Sandy says the re­ported bene ts in­clude ‘help­ing to stop the baby blues’ and ‘di­min­ish­ing post­par­tum fa­tigue’. Among the other ad­van­tages listed by pro­po­nents are the pre­ven­tion of anaemia in the mother; in­creas­ing and length­en­ing the ow of the bond­ing hor­mone, oxy­tocin; sta­bil­is­ing of the mother’s hor­mones; aid­ing breast­feed­ing; top­ping up lev­els of B vi­ta­mins; and pro­tec­tion against in­fec­tions that can oc­cur as a re­sult of ‘re­tained pla­centa tis­sue or mem­branes’.

Add to this the cen­turies-long tra­di­tion of pow­dered pla­centa use in tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine and the cur­rent Western em­brace of al­ter­na­tive health and medicine prac­tices, and it’s not hard to see why pla­cen­tophagy is catch­ing on, its mo­men­tum fu­elled by a wave of widely pub­li­cised and highly vis­i­ble A-list celebrity en­dorse­ments. Ali­cia Sil­ver­stone, Jen­nifer Lopez, Holly Madi­son and Gaby Ho mann are rmly in the af­ter­birth-eat­ing camp, and Jan­uary Jones of Mad Men fame has been vo­cal about tak­ing pla­centa pills af­ter giv­ing birth to son Xan­der.

But per­haps the most en­thu­si­as­tic and in uen­tial en­dorse­ment has come from the Kar­dashian sis­ters Kim and Kourt­ney. The el­dest Kar­dashian, Kourt­ney, took to In­sta­gram af­ter the birth of her son, Reign, in Jan­uary last year with a pic­ture of her pla­centa pills. ‘Yummy… Pla­centa pills!’ read the ac­com­pa­ny­ing cap­tion. ‘No joke… I will be sad when my pla­centa pills run out. They are life-chang­ing! bene ts look­itup’.

And ‘look it up’ is what ex­pec­tant moth­ers have done, from Cal­i­for­nia to Cape Town. Though there are no avail­able statis­tics for the num­bers of pla­cen­tophag­ists ei­ther lo­cally or world­wide, the num­ber of web­sites and ‘pla­centa spe­cial­ists’ o er­ing their ser­vices in South Africa sug­gests not merely a mid-2016 trend but a full­blown cul­ture of pla­centa ingestion that’s been ges­tat­ing for years.

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