One mom's biohazardous waste is another's culinary jackpot, it seems.
While it's not exactly on everyone's dream menu, more and more women are choosing to keep -- and eat -- their placenta for its purported health benefits. There are even cookbooks out there, with suggestions on how to make the slimy organ palatable.
According to spokesperson, MairiAnna Bachynsky, for every 4,000 births a year Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre gets just three or four requests for a placenta.
But it's a growing trend, with certain doulas and midwives encapsulating or dehydrating placenta for human consumption.
Since Leanne Palmerston, a doula based in Hamilton, started to offer placenta pills about two years ago, she has prepped about two dozen. If her bookings are anything to go by, that number will double in the next year.
What was once considered the practice of New Age moms is gaining in popularity as women discover the health benefits of ingesting placenta -- the one-pound organ which serves to feed the baby in utero and which is expelled from the uterus after birth.
Putting aside the grotesque factor for a moment (because, truly, it is a revolting-looking organ), placenta is said to help boost energy levels, fight mood swings, and enhance milk production in new moms.
And really, once something is steamed, sliced, dehydrated and ground into powder, it's unrecognizable enough to stomach.
Toronto doula, Rean Cross, thinks so. “You have to get past the ick factor,” says Cross who performs the service for $150 for her clients.
But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.
“I felt I was on an even keel," said 36-year-old Davida Robertson, who took placenta pills after the birth of her daughter, Rae, in May 2010. "I wish people knew about it. I would definitely do it again. It’s not for everyone. Some people won’t be able to get past what it is, but you have to go in with an open mind. I’m proud I did it.”
Robertson claims her placenta, which produced more than a 100 pills, tasted "kind of primal, very earthy".
Although there aren't yet any scientific studies backing up the health benefits of eating placenta, moms who've tried it are convinced. The question is, would you?