The Joy of Placenta – bon appétit!
It has been said that eating one's own placenta reaps many health benefits for the mother. If you're looking for a way to do this (without having to sink your teeth into a juicy placenta steak!), then try this recipe for making powdered placenta.
First, a disclaimer: this may be a squeamish topic for some. There are people out there who DO keep their placenta after giving birth. Some bury it, some keep it in the freezer (and have absolutely no idea what to do next), some make artworks out of it, while some, well, cook it and eat it! I fall into the last category and share my experience and recipe below.
Although the placenta is revered in many cultures, very few customarily eat the placenta after the newborn’s birth. Those who advocate placentophagy, or the eating of one’s placenta, mostly come from the US, Europe, Mexico, Hawaii, China and the Pacific Islands.
Advocates of placentophagy believe that eating the placenta prevents postpartum depression and other pregnancy complications. The most general benefit of placentophagy, according to recent research, is that placenta and amniotic fluid contain a molecule (POEF, Placental Opioid-Enhancing Factor) that produces an enhancement of the natural reduction in pain that occurs shortly before and during childbirth.
I’m not one of the brave ones who dare to make spaghetti sauce out of placenta meat and eat it with pasta, however, I was very intrigued by the rumored nutritional qualities of placenta. After all, most mammals eat their own placenta!
After experiencing a terribly long and tiring recovery period for my first birth, I decided that I would try and harness the nutritional qualities of my second placenta to aid in my recovery from my second birth.
See what I did with my placenta on the next page.
Thanks to the Internet and a friend that I met at an online forum who shared with me her experience with preparing placenta, this is what I learned to do with it:
Step 1: Freeze or chill the placenta as soon as possible after delivery
As my second child was born at home, I really wanted to chuck it into the freezer right after it popped out, but my doctor indicated that he wanted to examine the placenta at the hospital. So my doula stored it in a freezer bag with ice packs (which she had prepared in advance) and took it to the hospital for us. She later took it home to freeze it for us and then sent it back to my place after my discharge from the hospital.
Step 2: Clean it really well
If chilled, prepare the placenta as soon as possible to ensure freshness. If frozen, do allow time to thaw completely. My confinement nanny graciously helped me to do this. We weren’t really sure if there was a “proper” method of washing the placenta so we just rinsed it several times until the water ran clear (slightly pink instead of dark red).
See next page for tips on how to mask the smell
Step 3: Mask the smell with herbs
Now, some people find the smell of placenta a little off-putting, so the nice folks at Eu Yan Sang (actually somebody called Mr. Ang who is quite knowledgeable about placenta preparation) gave me a small packet of herbs to use with it.
After squeezing half a lemon over the placenta, throw the herbs over the placenta together with a few slices of ginger. All these will help to dispel the unpleasant smell.
Click to the next page for the next step.
Step 4: Steam over low heat for 20 minutes on each side
Click next page for what to do after steaming.
Step 5: Let steamed placenta cool before slicing
Once cooled, slice steamed placenta into thin pieces. Slice as thin as you can, sort of like making beef jerky.
Click to the next page on how to dry placenta.
Step 6: Place placenta strips on wax paper
Line your placenta strips on wax paper or a metal tray to dry out in the sun (best method) in an air-conditioned room or in a food dehydrator/oven on lowest setting. Do watch out for dust and ants.
Go to next page for the final step!
Step 7: Pound the dried strips into powder
You have to make sure that the strips are completely dry before pounding them into powder for consumption. The strips should feel brittle to the touch.
Some people choose to eat this powder by adding it to soup while cooking. Other encapsulate the placenta powder together with some ginseng (pao sheng) or cordyceps so the smell of placenta is not too overpowering. I preferred to have mine sent to Eu Yan Sang where they powdered the dried strips for me and then encapsulated the powder together with some ginseng for my consumption.
And there you go! By transforming your placenta into powdered form, you could consume it without having the queasy feeling of sinking your teeth into a nice, juicy, thick steak of placenta. Bon appétit!
You can read more interesting posts from Vanessa Teo, mommy of three, on her blog!