Utah moms say placenta pills help alleviate postpartum depression, other issues

SALT LAKE CITY -- From celebrities to moms right here in Utah, more and more women are consuming their placentas in pill form after they give birth.

The placenta is an organ that grows inside the uterus while a baby is developing. The placenta gives nutrients to the baby, and some believe it is also capable of giving mom key nutrients even after it and the baby are delivered.

“So what happens is, studies show that about 72 hours after delivery, once the placenta is delivered, hormone levels drop," said Rachel Talley, a midwife and a herbalist. "It takes 4 to 12 weeks statistically for then the body to, the endocrine system, to start producing those hormones again. So, we're really doing natural hormonal therapy."

After Miranda Hansen delivered her second child, she said she felt the despair of postpartum creeping back in.

“The first five days was like a flashback,” Hansen said.

But after taking her first placenta pill, she says the symptoms softened in just 20 minutes.

“It was like this fog almost that was lifted," she said. "It was like a breath. Like it was totally, I could feel things just clear. It was amazing."

Miranda says she bonded with her baby, got back on her feet quicker, and dropped her baby weight faster when taking the pills.

Other moms like Melinda Drachil also weighed in.

“I’m a big fan of western, like modern medicine," she said. "I’m all about the epidural."

But she said the placenta pills worked for her.

“It was a little bit strange for me, but once I started taking them I couldn't stop telling people about them,” she said.

Melinda says she struggled with breast-feeding her first three children, but not with the fourth once she was taking placenta pills.

“It doesn’t taste like anything," she said of the pills. "It has a little bit of a smell to it, but other than that it's nothing besides a little clear pill."

Rachel Tally charges around $250 for her services, and she said a placenta typically yields about 200-300 pills.

Some hospitals won't release the placenta, but if they do and if it's handled correctly, the health department said they don't see a risk in consuming your own placenta. They just caution folks not to share their placenta with someone else.

“Because there is the possibility of blood-borne diseases, it is, you know, a very blood-rich part, an organ,” said Alfred Romeo with the Utah Department of Health.

Talley said she encourages people to make their own choices.

“A woman has the right to do whatever she wants with her placenta,” she said.

Talley said she knows of clients who have offered their pills to family members struggling with postpartum.

“I'm not convinced that somebody else's placenta might not help her, and it’s like: If you're going to put a gun to your head or you're going to ingest someone else's placenta, I’m all for ingesting someone else's placenta,” Talley said.

The hard science is illusive on the issue, as there isn't a lot of published research out there.

Both Rachel Talley and Alfred Romeo say they are happy to answer your questions.

Rachel Talley is a midwife, herbalist and placenta encapsulator with Living Mom. She can be reached by email at rachel@livingmom.net. Talley will also be speaking about placenta encapsulation at the “Empowering Fearless Birth” Conference Saturday February 18 in Sandy at 4:00 and 5:00 p.m..

Alfred N. Romeo is an R.N. and Ph.D. with the Utah Department of Health who can be reached by email, alromeo@utah.gov or at the address below. See the links for additonal resources:

Pregnancy Risk Line
Utah Newborn Safe Haven
MotherToBaby

Utah Department of Health
3760 S. Highland Drive.
Salt Lake City, UT 84106
Office 801-538-6009