I am recently returned (as of late last night) from the American Anthropological Association‘s annual meeting in New Orleans, LA. I was there to present my paper based on the results of my online survey that I blogged about last month. I have closed the survey for now, since we are going to revamp it before launching it again. But the preliminary results were incredibly encouraging.
Our session was entitled HUMAN CONSUMPTION OF ‘AFTERBIRTH’ (MATERNAL PLACENTOPHAGY): A ‘NATURAL’ AND BENEFICIAL PRACTICE?. It was organized by Dr. Daniel C Benyshek and Sharon Young, my cohorts in the research we are doing at UNLV (University of Nevada-Las Vegas).
We had a wonderful panel presenting information regarding placentophagy:
Yours truly: JODI SELANDER (Placenta Benefits) — Human Maternal Placentophagy: Benefits for Postpartum Women
MELISSA CHEYNEY (Oregon State University) — The Tree of Life as Postpartum Medicine: Placentophagy and the U.S. Homebirth Movement
PIERRE LIENARD — Disgust, Habit Or…? The ‘Evolution’ of an Avoidance
DANIEL BENYSHEK (University of Nevada-Las Vegas) — Eating the Placenta: How Do the Nutritional and Hormonal Profiles of Unprepared Human Placental Tissue Compare With Processed Human Placenta Capsules?
SHARON YOUNG (University of Nevada-Las Vegas), DANIEL BENYSHEK (University of Nevada-Las Vegas) — Revulsion or Appeal? A Blind Test of the Visual and Olfactory Cues of Human Placental Tissue
JEANNE DiPIRRO (Buffalo State University of New York) – presented on POEF, Placental-Opioid Enhancing Factor
DISCUSSANT: KAREN ROSENBERG (University of Delaware)
The most exciting part was the data from our research team at UNLV. My paper sharing the results of the online survey will be reported in detail later, but the highlight was that 96% of the women who participated in our survey (190 women at the time the data was compiled) found placentophagy to be a “positive” or “very positive” experience. Additionally, nearly everyone who tried placenta for postpartum would use the placenta for a subsequent child (98%).
Melissa Cheyney presented the more spiritual side of the use of placenta, with some wonderful testimonials and quotes from homebirth women in the Eugene, OR area. Melissa is also a homebirth midwife, and I loved that she had to get off the panel during the discussion portion to nurse her child in the audience. I would have liked to have had more time to chat with her.
Pierre Lienard presented an interesting theory as to why women may have stopped consuming the placenta, nearly universally over millennia. With the advent of fire, and women being the primary cooks and fire-tenders, that the heavy metal toxins (which do accumulate in the placenta) would have tipped the scales toward placentophagy being something harmful for the mothers to consume. This is obviously something that needs to be considered and researched further.
I am going to have to continue this blog post next week when I am not brain dead from exhaustion and can present the findings from the other papers in an intelligent manner. So much information to share, and I want to do it justice.
Traveling while 8 months pregnant is not easy, and I will be leaving very early in the morning to visit family for the Thanksgiving holiday. Look for much more writing from me on my return.