Should a Christian Eat their Placenta?

When I was single, I had a sister and many female friends and I thought I was fairly well aware of the issues that women faced.  I was horribly mistaken, and once I got married I learned just how many mysteries of femininity are systematically hidden from guys.  As if to add insult to injury, my wife regularly asked me questions that were so unexpected that they left me somewhat stunned.

Stunned Baby(Sweetie, I’m driving right now.  Can we talk about the hypostatic union when I get home?)

But then, my wife started talking about having children and the unexpected-question quotient went to an all-time high and those unexpected  questions got out there.  Questions about water retention, birth control, nutrition, emotions, whether we should homeschool, whether super spicy burritos may induce labour, etc. (you know, the types of questions that guys talk about while they’re chatting around a barbeque).  I was searching desperately through the Bible for help on some of those questions (when it seemed appropriate), and many times I was tossed a question that I was utterly unprepared for.  One night, after she had been reading a tsunami of stuff, she gave me the look and the “honey, can we talk?”  The look told me it was time to sit down, so I sat down and she shared that she had been reading about a new practice that was somewhat growing in popularity, and I simply couldn’t believe it: eating one’s placenta.

That’s right.  Eating the other thing that emerges with a baby.

Not only had I never heard of that, but I couldn’t even imagine why in the world someone would want to eat their placenta.  How in the world would that even work?

BLT(Would you make a PLT or what?)

This might seem like a weird question if you’re a single guy, but in truth this question has come up for me several times after my wife and I initially discussed it.  At the time, apparently women at church were talking about it and it was becoming the thing to do.  Apparently there were amazing health benefits (and 1 Cor. 6:19-20 was getting tossed around with all the standard guilt-inducing metaphors).  Apparently it increased the milk supply in nursing mothers (and Heb. 5:12-13 and 1 Pet. 2:2 obviously command all mothers to breastfeed their children until they’re functionally literate, right?).  Apparently, it was a preventative cure for postpartum depression (and Matt. 6:25 clearly suggests that postpartum depression is a sin, right?).  Apparently, it’s a rather old practice that is found all over history (and if we’ve been doing it for centuries or millennia, what’s the worry, right?).  Apparently, all the other mammals are doing it (and we don’t want to be the nerds of the animal world, right?).

Now none of those arguments are terribly convincing, even on a surface level (and there’s some rather strong rebuttal on a sheer empirical level from many smart folks in the hard science world and even the soft science world), but tearing down weak arguments doesn’t establish a positive strong argument (i.e. proving that you’re wrong doesn’t make me right).  What’s more is that I couldn’t really find any help in building up a positive case short of some mediocre articles written by Christians who were well meaning but not exactly Bible scholars (if I had a dime for every good idea defended badly by Christians on the internet…). I also couldn’t think of a scripture that directly addressed the issue of placenta eating (off the top of my head) so this appeared to be a bit of a conundrum.

So, we had a conversation that continued on for an hour or so, and covered the popular reasoning for why someone would even think about eating their placenta (apparently you dried it and made it into pills, not a PLT like I was thinking) and we talked about whether or not eating any part of a human being was synonymous with cannibalism.  I also sat down, prayed like a frantic man, and started desperately doing some research .  Allow me to show my steps of sorting through what I (secretly) thought was an issue that scripture did not mention:

Step One: Try to find the appropriate and relevant biblical terminology.

Study

This means that the English term(s) used to describe something might not be the Biblical terms, but this is sometimes difficult as finding technical terms can be frustrating if you don’t even know what to look for.  I knew that the term “placenta” probably didn’t appear in the Bible, so I hopped on Google and BibleGateway and attempted to search a bunch of somewhat related terms in an effort to find a relevant direct reference in scripture.  You always want to go with direct references to an issue or topic if you can, and only move on to the second tier of “applying relevant principles” if you cannot find a direct reference.

On that particular day, the Lord was wonderfully gracious.  I found one relevant term; “afterbirth” in one verse.  Finding one term and one passage made my work quite quick and easy (and that is amazingly rare).

Step Two: Make a list of the passages with the relevant terms/principles.

clouseau

This means looking up all the passages with the term/principle in it and making two lists: one of direct references and one of passing/indirect reference.  A direct reference is basically when the term/principle is the topic of the passage, and an indirect reference is when the term appears but is not the focus/topic of the passage.  I found one passage that included an indirect reference – Deut. 28:57.

Step three: Examine the scriptures you’ve listed and analyze your data.

This is the part where biblical interpretation comes into play, but the interpretive task here was relatively easy since I only had one verse: Deut. 28:57.  What do we see there?  Deut. 28:52-57 is part of a curse for disobedience to the law that they’ve received.  The whole thrust of the passage is that if Israel disobeys God’s commands, God will bring a curse on Israel so utterly horrid that women will violate every natural inhibition they have and behave in ways that are absolutely unthinkable to them.  God promises Israel that he would curse them to the point that they would engage in actions that, even under siege and suffering to the point of being near death, they would still find shameful.

The eating of both the children and the afterbirth will be done in secret because it’s absolutely shameful.

Think about that for a second.

Deut. 28:56-57 speaks of a woman who, before the curse of the siege, was so refined and well mannered that she wouldn’t step barefoot on the ground. During the curse of the siege, that same women will eat both her afterbirth and children in hiding (in an effort to hide the fact that Miss Manners has become Miss Mongrel) and not even share her food with her own family.  The eating of her children and her afterbirth is the bottom of the barrel for her; it’s the unthinkable action that demonstrates the shameful depths to which she has plunged.

Given that is the only mention of the afterbirth in the OT (including the Hebrew term), there’s not a whole lot of question about what God thinks about eating the afterbirth.

thumbs-down

So if you’re thinking about placentophagy (eating your placenta), you simply need to ask yourself one question: Why would I willfully choose to participate in an action that is the mark of being on the receiving end of a divine curse?

Just some food for thought.

I’m sorry, I simply couldn’t resist such an obvious pun.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “I’m getting hungry for jalapeno poppers now for some reason” Unger

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21 thoughts on “Should a Christian Eat their Placenta?

  1. “Post headers I was not expecting to see in my inbox” for $500, please. Ha! But really, very interesting and something I have never even thought about before. Thanks for giving us something to chew on! (Pun oh-so intended)

  2. Thanks for writing about placentas. I’m a bit of a crunchy mom: eat lots of health food, home birth, homeschool etc. So this topic is very familiar to me.
    The placenta encapsulation craze has always seemed a bit off to me. Thanks for sharing your findings.

  3. Good points, and good effort and I probably agree with your conclusion.

    Although, I see it possible that God was not condemning so much the eating of the afterbirth as the eating of the child.

    Like, if I said, you will become so woefully broke you will eat your own child with ketchup! I’m not certain that would mean ketchup is as abhorrent as the child eating…if at all.

    Now, I tend to agree with you. I just don’t see it as open and shut. I suppose it isn’t too different to me than the ? of Christian tattoos.

  4. Great article. I’ve got a 6 month old and a two yr old. A few people mentioned the placenta eating thing to me and I just pulled a strange face and didn’t really go any further from there.
    Yikes.
    Regarding the Christian tattoo issue.
    As a Christian woman who has a full sleeve tattoo (one whole arm) I can tell you that I’ve been mighty convicted by God over the issue and I no longer wear clothes that reveal the fact that I have it done. The reason for this is because if I’m trying to be a gospel witness and share Christ with the lost… it’s a massive stumbling block I’ve found.
    Not to mention incredibly worldly.
    Just my thought on that.

  5. I’m sorry but this is completely ridiculous and false. Do you not know the PURPOSE of a placenta? A piece of it in our cheek will stop post partum hemmorhage in a matter of seconds. Aka saving you from death. God didn’t do that on accident. The majority of this country also thinks childbirth should be painful because it says the word “pain” in Genesis in the NIV version. The original phrase in Hebrew- before translated to English is “hard work, toil and tiring.” Hence, why my labor and birth were anything but painful. It is all about mindset. The bible is also interpreted by HUMANS and we must realize that. We will all interpret it differently, and that’s okay.

    • Thanks for your passionate thoughts Laura. Care to interact with the passage in Deuteronomy?

      Also, the main meaning of the Hebrew words itstsabown and etseb in Genesis 3 is “pain”. That’s the main lexical meaning of both terms. It’s fine to disagree about the scriptures, but the scriptures have a discernable meaning and you cannot simply make things up and pretend that they’re true.

      • this is very poor reasoning, and research, if you actually quoted the whole passage, and not snippets of your own interpretations, it talks about them being under siege and so desperate for food that they would eat these things and not share them with one another. it has nothing to do with it being right or wrong.

      • Ok, it clearly says that the women are eating the afterbirth and child because they are “so desperate” and “under siege”. Why, then, would a woman eat the afterbirth if she is not desperate and under attack? The scripture would have no basis.

        BTW: Nice article that is based on legitamate, and logical, scripture.

  6. I will interact with the passage in Deut: The verse is describing a situation so desperate that fathers eat their children and mothers do also; she even hides the placenta from the family to eat it in secret because she is so desperately hungry. This is not a passage speaking one way or another on the morality of eating placenta. To take it further, it does not even say they are wrong to eat the children. If it’s condemning anything, it’s that she isn’t sharing her child/placenta meal with the rest of the family. Of course I’m not say that it’s ok to eat your kid, just that THIS particular passage is not answering that question or the placenta question. Take it at face value, which is the description of what people do in a desperate situation. If you are making placenta decisions NOT in a desperate, “should I share this with my family?” situation, go with your conscience since the Bible does not command you one way or the other.

    • It could be argued from Deut. 28, that the hardships of the curses cause the people to do immoral things. For example, the Lord brings about the hardship of being driven into another nation where the people seemingly go with their conscience and choose to commit idolatry (an immoral act). Perhaps the flesh/placenta eating acts, resulting from the hardship of the siege, could be viewed the same? The moral dimension of the acts then being the decision to act with indifference or secrecy towards ones spouse and family. Just some thoughts.

  7. Thank you for your well thought and composed article. Another item you may want to consider is the handling of blood. While Devarim is a great start point, we can read in the Book of Acts where guidance was given (twice) to Gentile believers in Messiah (I presume you are a Gentile believer in Jesus Christ):

    ” . . . to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.” (Acts 15:20).

    “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.” (Acts 15:29).

    While not a salvation issue, believers are to abstain from blood. Aside from the blood aspects of the placenta, chemicals in the placenta may be similar to those found in the meat of strangled animals – related to trauma, stress, pain. Therefore, transgression of boundaries for two of the four areas have occurred.

    Believers should remember: ” ‘I have the right to do anything,’ “you say—but not everything is beneficial.” (1 Corinthians 6:12).

  8. Hey! I just found this post while googling to see if one I wrote on the same topic is showing up on search engines. Mine also gets into the Deut 28 passage, and some thoughts about Levitical Law, as well as Acts 15. I honestly don’t think that this practice is supported by a biblical world view, and while knowing we can’t force others to make the same choice that we do, I personally don’t think its something believers in Jesus should be participating in. Maybe you want to see my post? http://www.etzhazayit.blogspot.co.il/2016/02/what-does-bible-say-about-eating.html

    • Sure. Thanks.

      I don’t make the same argument that you do, since finding a direct reference in Scripture is sufficient to resolve the issue. That way, there’s no need for debatable theological deductions.

  9. What version bible do you read? Explain to me how Matthew 6 25 is saying post partum depression is a sin… MATTHEW 6 24-25 NO MAN CAN SERVE TWO MASTERS FOR EITHER HE WILL HATE THE ONE AND LOVE THE OTHER OR ELSE HE WILL HOLD TO THE ONE AND DESPISE THE OTHER. YOU CANNOT SERVE (GOD) YAHWEH AND MAMMON(MONEY) 25THEREFORE I SAY UNTO YOU TAKE NO THOUGHT FOR YOUR LIFE WHAT YOU SHALL EAT OR WHAT YOU SHALL PUT ON. IS NOT LIFE MORE THAN MEAT(FOOD) AND THE BODY MORE THAN RAIMENT(CLOTHES/FAISHON) ? All spoken by JESUS CHRIST The son of the living God…… I will not even get into the flase claim of nursing your children until they read… I can tell you don’t have much knowledge of the Bible and honestly didn’t read the whole article….yet. whether it’s biblical to eat the placenta is not even the issue.

    • Thanks for your passionate thoughts Ava!

      I wasn’t suggesting that Matthew 6:25 taught that, but rather taking a shot at a clearly erroneous idea.

      Matthew 6:25 read “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…” and my wife has been told that the “do not be anxious” part means that being depressed is sin.

      The nursing comment was likewise me mocking a wrong idea that my wife has heard in the past. Some women think that the Bible gives some specific guidelines on how long a woman should breastfeed.

      I’d suggest that such an idea is clearly absurd.

      Neither one of the ideas you’re attacking was something that I was promoting, but rather ideas that I was taking a stab against.

      I might have little knowledge of the Bible, but I also wasn’t promoting either one of those ideas. Quite the opposite, in fact.

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