Confessions of a Cannibal Mom

Woman Eating by Australian Painter Peter Purves Smith

I’ve tasted human meat, not once but twice. Despite the fact that it was my own flesh, I’m still alive to tell the tale. Shortly after popping out each of my two children, I dined on their placentas, sautéed with onions and garlic in a red wine sauce. I described my culinary experiences in all their gory detail for the Women’s section of

My Telegraph article confirmed that I’m as nutty as a fruitcake, at least according to several of the comments posted when it was first published in 2015. “Any woman who eats her own placenta should be certified, sectioned and treated,” said one. For American readers, I should explain that “sectioned” does not mean I should be cut up into sections for consumption, but instead detained against my will under the British Mental Health Act of 1983. I’m an auto-cannibal and proud of it. So bring on the ambulance to cart me off to the loony bin. You might think it’s no wonder that I’ve set up a website for adulterers’ wives — why would any self-respecting man want to stay with, to quote one commentator, an “empty-headed and gormless” individual like me? Prior to writing about my afterbirth-eating proclivities, I had thought I was extremely sane, so it was somewhat disappointing to discover that this wasn’t the case.

The scientific term for ingesting the afterbirth is placentophagy — there’s a good word for a school spelling bee. I was spurred to write about afterbirth-eating because a new American study on it has been widely reported upon by the press worldwide. Researchers at Northwestern University carried out a review of ten current published studies and concluded that eating placenta has “no proven health benefits and unknown risks.” The review appeared in the June 4, 2015 edition of Archives of Women’s Mental Health.

Yet according to traditional Chinese medicine, eating placenta can prevent post-natal depression, boost milk production and speed up the mother’s recovery after the birth. Czech research in 1954 looked at the effects of eating dried placenta by 210 mothers and concluded that it increased milk production in more than three quarters of the women in the study. Conducted by Charles university in Prague, it was entitled “Placenta as a Lactagogon” and appeared in the Journal Gynaecologia, Vol. 138, №6, 1954. And here are the results of my totally unscientific study of half a dozen or so fellow placenta-eating loonies that I have known: None of us suffered from baby blues, we breastfed with ease and we all got our energy back quickly after the birth. Whether this happened because of our collective appetite for afterbirth cuisine or for other reasons cannon be ascertained.

Comments on my Telegraph article likened placentophagy to eating snot, menses, sperm or even amputated limbs. Eating amputated limbs? I don’t think so. I walked out of the 2005 movie Sin City when a horrible scene came up involving that. You don’t need your placenta once the birth is over, but you’d certainly miss one of your limbs if you ate it. Snot? I’ve seen a few uncouth small boys stick their nasty little fingers in their noses and then straight into their mouths, but this was never one of my habits. Menses? Well I suppose cooking that might be similar to the great British delicacy Black Pudding, which I happen to loathe. Sperm? Come on, anyone indulging in oral sex might end up consuming a bit of semen.

However, one commentator described the practice of placentophagy as “remarkable” and “comforting.” Finally, a sane, measured, positive view, I thought. But then she lost me with her next sentence which mentioned that some cultures find bat guano to be a delicacy. I could not find any evidence at all for the existence of this batty gastronomic habit. Developing the bat guano theme further, the same commentator went on to suggest in all seriousness that I turn to a fruit-based diet and compare the taste of eating “my leavings” with that of placenta. I can attest to the fact that it did not taste like shit at all.

Sadly, all these magnificent comments are now lost in cyberspace. An updated version of my Telegraph article was published in 2016 to include details of some celebrity moms who had their placentas made into pills. By that time the newspaper had suspended its online comment feature. Did readers think the whole lot of us placenta gobblers were complete nutcases? I would never know.

Originally published at on July 16, 2018.

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