The nutritional benefits of a mother's placenta have been well publicised. But for the majority of women, cooking and eating your own afterbirth is a tough one to stomach. That’s why independent midwife Caroline Baddiley decided to make the placenta easy to digest by transforming it into a pill.
For £175, 62-year old Baddiley cooks, dehydrates and grinds the discarded placenta from the new mother and puts the powder into a capsule to be swallowed.
The ‘harvesting’ service is so thorough (she uses a food dehydrator and coffee grinder), one placenta can be made into up to as many as 120 health-boosting pills.
But are the health benefits rich enough to convince a woman to swallow her afterbirth?
“The placenta is a rich source of hormones and chemicals and it’s thought that by preserving it, some of those factors can go back to the mother. The benefits if they consume the placenta are well documented,” explains Baddiley.
“Taking it in capsule form is certainly more appealing and palatable than the alternative. My customers don’t have to handle it or smell or taste it at all.’ The placenta is also said to help enhance breast milk production and reduce the risks of post-natal depression.
Baddiley had to pass strict food hygiene tests before she started her new business and admits that her orders have trebled since she appeared on the Channel 4 show, ‘How To Be A Good Mother’.
Explaining how tohe process works, Baddiley explains: “Mothers-to-be sign an agreement with me and as soon as they give birth, their husbands call me and I go and collect the placenta.
“I bring it home and cook it for 20 minutes in a steamer. It is then sliced up and put in a food dehydrator for 12 hours and then ground in a coffee grinder to a fine powder.
“I use a machine to put the powder into the capsule and they then go in a jar and are delivered by post to the mother.”
Although Baddily is adamant of the placenta pills health-boosting properties, not every maternal expert agrees.
“My understanding of the placenta is that it is a filter for waste products so, although I am familiar with this practice, I have never really thought there was a great deal of benefit to be gained from eating your own placenta.
"Also in order to put the placenta into capsules it would need to be cooked and dried in which case most of the nutrients would be lost,” fertility expert Emma Cannon told The Huffington Post.
An American woman, Lynnea Shreif, was the first person to create a placenta pill and later went on to form the Independent Placenta Encapsulation Network.
The placenta has also been used as an anti-ageing property in face creams.