Do you guys take notes of things you are willing to do ? I plead guilty for that, I have a notebook full of blog post & webinar ideas. Ideas usually pop up when you don’t expect them, sometimes in the middle of the night or in the middle of a flight. So now, I write everything down. And I find it to be the easy step : turning the idea into something real, that’s when things get more difficult !
I realized how quickly time flies when I opened my notebook at a random page today. Here it was : six month ago I wrote this down : « write a blog to share my thoughts on whether or not bitches and queens should be allowed, after birth, to eat the placentas. » Ok, I’m late… But better late than never, hey ? Today is the day !
I had writen this down because, while browsing the web, I had bumped on the following word : « placentophagy ». Mmm, never heard about this one during my veterinary studies I thought. But that was ok, it was quite explicit : placentophagy = the act of mammals eating the placenta of their young(s) after birth. Even if the word was never really used in one of the classrooms I attended, this was a behaviour I heard about during my veterinary student years and that I experienced during my time at the repro center in Paris. If you breed dogs or cats, I’m quite sure you are familiar with this idea !
What do we know about it in small animals ? Well, it is described as a « compulsive act » that happens very often right after delivery of a placenta. It very often happens after the mother cut the umbilical cord. And apart from that, well, we don’t know much : this behaviour is – still – poorly understood. And I quote this last sentence for a human medicine publication of 2016 !
You will indeed find a whole body of scientific literature on this very topic in humans. I’m not a human doctor so I won’t comment this practice but briefly, the idea is that the placenta retains hormones and nutrients that are beneficial to the mother. And these are the three main ideas you can find if you go through the scientific abstracts :
– reduces post-placental depression ;
– enhance recovery by providing analgesia ;
– help boost milk production ;
What is important however I believe is the following :
” Strong evidence to substantiate these claims is lacking.” (see the abstract here)
I encourage you to take a look at this abstract because it also describes associated risks that were reported.