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Please Pass the Placenta

You might want to put your breakfast bacon down before reading this.

Even though I never saw my placenta and my husband, who did, refuses to talk about it, I understand it holds a lot of magic in some distant, primative cultures. It's not unheard of to bury the afterbirth for good fortune ... or good fertilizer. Even Matthew McConacrazy, who comes from the exotic land of Texas, announced last year that he and his girlfriend planned to bury baby Levi's placenta under a tree. (My fear would be that the neighborhood cats would dig my placenta up and devour it, unleashing all kinds of angry universal mojo on my life.)

Even though I recognize and respect everyone's crazy-ass, illogical rituals, a recent Craigslist post from a Jacksonville woman who is expecting her baby this month made my uterus cringe. The woman is looking for someone to dehydrate her placenta and pulverize it in a coffee grinder so she can swallow it in daily capsules. "Unfortunately, I don't have a strong enough stomach to just eat it," she writes.

Is this another urban myth or has the placenta become the new breakfast of super moms?

Feeling ravenous after 12 traumatic hours of childbirth? Forget that Whopper with cheese. Go for the nearest and dearest snack food – just make sure it's not still connected to little Jorge.

Please don't tell me that, along with feeling inadequate because I used painkillers and did not give birth in a whirlpool, I now must feel guilty that I did not scarf down my placenta, which I place on the same culinary scale as cat food.

The hungry mom-to-be in Jacksonville is not alone. In the past year, a website called Momlogic also has reported that twin sisters Chrissy and Kathy cooked and ate Chrissy's placenta, panini-style, after the birth of her first baby. The sisters used the leftovers on pasta.

A Google search finds numerous placenta recipes, mostly from Mothering magazine, including placenta lasagne, placenta stew, placenta pizza and placenta jerky. What's next: An Oprah show with Mario Batali's placenta meatballs?

Placentophagy is practiced by most other mammals partly as a survival instinct to hide proof that a helpless newborn is around. Last time I looked, there were no human baby predators lurking in the delivery room of most hospitals. I don't buy the nutrients argument, either, since most American women have plenty of access to healthy food.

It's true that parts of the placenta are known to shrink the uterus and ease birth stress and pain. Me? I'll stick to sit ups and Extra Strength Tylenol.

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