A small number of women do choose to eat their own placentas after giving birth. This practice of ‘placentophagy’ is often in the news, with celebrities claiming that the high levels of nutrients, proteins and hormones in the organ can increase bonding and milk production, lessen fatigue and improve mood. But research has found no definitive evidence for any of these effects.
There are also risks: a fresh placenta whizzed up as a smoothie with some berries could contain toxic metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury, as well as harmful bacteria – one study found E. coli. Even steamed and desiccated placenta tablets (the most common way to eat your own placenta) are not completely sterile.
Don’t be too worried, though: the risks are small. Most important is to provide practical, social and emotional support so that hopefully your wife doesn’t feel the need to take a punt on something that has no proven benefits.