An obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Akinsola Akinde, has advised women against consuming their placentas, saying there is no medical evidence to support its health benefits to new mothers.
The former Chairman, Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON), Akinde gave the advice in an interview with newsmen on Monday in Lagos.
He said that placentophagy can be harmful to the mother and baby, noting that healthcare providers should be consulted about proven alternatives for postpartum and other concerns.
The placenta is an organ that delivers oxygen and nutrients from the mother’s blood to the fetus; it also removes waste products from the baby’s blood.
The Placentophagy also known as placentophagia, is the act of consuming part or all of the afterbirth, and is gaining popularity among more women after childbirth.
The practice is gaining wide acceptance and popularity as more celebrities, social media influencers and proponents of the practice post their experiences online.
Most women opt to drink the placenta in a fruit smoothie within hours of giving birth, while some eat it raw, cooked, dehydrated and encapsulated into pills for use over time.
Human placentophagy is touted by some as a treatment for postpartum depression, reduce fatigue, boost milk supply, and replenish vital nutrients.
According to Akinde, he said that the proposed health benefits were not scientifically proved, adding that the benefits were made up to justify the act.
“Medically, the placenta is a waste product because they are often colonised with bacteria. Many are infected.
“So, it is not advisable to eat something that is potentially teeming with bacteria, which may even be pathogenic.
“Some women may want to jump on the placenta-eating bandwagon because someone they know or respect claims it’s “the best thing ever”.
“I will advise them to exercise caution till scientific evidence proves that placentophagy is beneficial to human health,” he said.
He said that the placenta does have protein and fats, however, those nutrients could be found in a healthy diet.
In his reaction, Dr Tunji Akintade, a general physician, said that placentophagy was strange to the African culture whose normal practise was to bury the placenta after childbirth.
He added that government policies dictate that the placenta should be bagged and disposed of as medical waste, adding that keeping it for hours breeds infection.