As January Jones admits to eating her own placenta, experts reveal the health benefits (and the cooking instructions)

As January Jones admits to eating her own placenta, experts reveal the health benefits (and the cooking instructions)

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UPDATED:

22:40 GMT, 26 March 2012

January Jones has certainly been mysterious about the paternity of her son, but one thing she hasn't been shy to admit is how she ate her own placenta following his birth.

Eating the placenta however, is not an uncommon practice these days, and has become something of a trend among new mothers interested in the much talked about health benefits.

Chinese herbalists among others believe that re-ingesting the protective layer that connects the baby to the wall of the uterus is common sense when it comes to nourishing the body after childbirth.

Yum! January Jones took placenta pills as recommended by her doula and felt reinvigorated and ready to get back to work

Yum! January Jones took placenta pills as recommended by her doula and felt reinvigorated and ready to get back to work

Ayla Yavin,
a Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist specialising in women's health
who also used to be a doula told MailOnline: 'You spend nine months
building the placenta and then when your baby is born you lose a huge
amount of blood.'

The New York-based specialist went on to say: 'Eating the placenta is good for a few reasons.

'The
placenta contains high levels of oxytocin – the 'love'
hormone that stimulates milk production and helps the uterus contract to
its normal size again.

'When you have a baby, your hormone
levels drop which is why many women suffer from postpartum depression
for days following the birth.

'When you eat the placenta you
replace these hormones so milk production is at an optimum and the come-down from labour isn't quite as harsh.'

But dining on one's placenta isn't quite as cannibalistic as it may sound.

New mothers like the Mad Men star who consume the large, fleshy organ don't eat the whole thing raw like other mammals do.

Final product: The placenta is cooked, dehydrated and ground up into a fine powder before being encapsulated for ingestion

Final product: The placenta is cooked, dehydrated and ground up into a fine powder before being encapsulated for ingestion

Most commonly, it is cooked,
dehydrated and turned into a powder form, through a process known as
'encapsulation', and in some cases is added to other Chinese herbs for
extra nourishment.

Ms
Jones admitted to People Magazine: 'It's something I was very hesitant
about, but we're only the only mammals who don't ingest out own
placentas. It's not witch-crafty or anything! I suggest it to all moms!'

A recent mother herself, Ms Yavin wasn't surprised to experience the truth behind the custom, firsthand: 'I ate a tiny bit of it right after I gave birth, raw in a smoothie, and when I drank it I had an immediate surge of energy – it made me feel really good.

And I noticed after on the days when I forgot to take my pills, I was more tired and moodier.'

Nourishing: The placenta contains estrogen and oxytocin

Nourishing: The placenta contains estrogen and oxytocin

Traditionally
in American hospitals, unless a patient requests to take it home, the
placenta is considered medical waste and is thrown out with the rest of
the day's bio-hazardous refuse.

Scientists are not yet convinced by
the research conducted thus far insisting there is no proven link
between the hormonal and nutritional content of the placenta and the
strength and vitality of a new mother who may have eaten it.

Mark Kristal, a behavioural neuroscientist at the University of Buffalo told New York Magazine last year that eating the placenta began as a New Age phenomenon in the Seventies.

'Every ten or twenty years people say, “We should do this because it’s natural and animals do it.” But it’s not based on science. It’s a fad,' he added.

But many would seem to disagree. 'Encapsulation removes you from the nitty gritty of it,' Ms Yavin confessed, adding: 'If you've worked so hard to stay healthy and nourish yourself the best way possible during pregnancy why wouldn't you want to reintegrate the results of that work back into your body'