The idea of eating one’s own placenta is a tough image for a lot women to swallow, literally, but many new mothers swear by the healthy benefits of the practice, include Mad Men’s own January Jones.

The actress talked to People magazine about her post-natal regimen and how she was able to return to the set of her show so quickly after giving birth in September, and she chalked it all up to eating afterbirth.

“I have a great doula who makes sure I’m eating well, with vitamins and teas, and with placenta capsulation,” she told the magazine.

In case you’re not familiar with that last item, January broke it down. “Your placenta gets dehydrated and made into vitamins,” she explained. “It’s something I was very hesitant about, but we’re the only mammals who don’t ingest our own placentas.”

There may be a reason for that, although as far as this new mother, and a lot of other mothers like her are concerned, ingesting their afterbirth gives them energy, reduces postpartum depression (PPD), and even increases breast milk production. Unfortunately, scientists haven’t been able to prove those claims thus far. Doula/certified childbirth education and placenta encapsulator, Carrie Kenner, is working on a pilot study to prove the effects of the placenta on PPD, but right now she has a few theories on why placentophagy has become all the rage. She told TODAY Moms women who have suffered PPD once will try anything to prevent or alleviate symptoms a second time around, and the other group of women turning to placenta encapsulation are “the folks who want to do the latest and greatest and best when it comes to their babies.”

Nancy Redd feels the same way. In an article for the New York Times, she called the trend a celebrity fad and said she was desperate at the time of her birth to try anything that would benefit her and the baby but now she regrets taking the pills.

“Shortly after my first dose of two pills, I felt jittery and weird,” she wrote. “By the next day, after just eight placenta pills, I was in tabloid-worthy meltdown mode, a frightening phase filled with tears and rage. This lasted another couple of awful days before my husband suggested that it wasn’t postpartum mommy madness finally making its appearance, but the hormone-and-goodness-knows-what-else-filled placenta pills.”

Not knowing exactly what effect eating your placenta will have on you is the main reason so many women don’t do it. Pediatric physician Dr. Melissa Arca said, “The process is not regulated and this could carry some risk as women entrust others to store, process, and encapsulate their placenta for them.”

The pills may have worked for January but with so little information on the effects of this post-natal regimen, this is definitely an eat at your own risk practice.

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  1. Human beings will eat any and every thing except fruit. Humans will eat dogs, cats, cows, insects, pigs, and other animals. Humans will drink urine and guzzle down all types of poisons like caffeine to name one. Humans will eat other mammals eggs, eyeballs, fetuses, livers, balls, uteruses, and other body parts. But try and tell them to eat true food of fruit and they flip out and say that is the craziest thing they ever heard.

    I’ve heard of some groups of women in other parts of the world eating their placenta but I never agreed with the practice. Hospital staff have asked if I would like to take my placenta home after I gave birth. I would have taken it home if I owned a house at the time but I wouldn’t eat it. I would plant in the garden as fertilizer for all my fruits and vegetables.

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