A Gross Injustice: A Place for Placenta Eating in Feminist Discourse

Scripted’s talented community of freelance writers have a variety of expertise and specialties. While many of our customers hire writers to execute their content marketing strategy, our writers deliver high-quality content in many formats. You can find content writers, blog writers, ghostwriters, and SEO writers all with experience in your niche.

The following is a an example of a Women's Health blog post:


If you have been born, you have had intimate bodily contact with a placenta. The placenta was likely the most important thing in your world until you left the womb, but chances are good that you haven’t given it much thought since that day. In a recent article published in the New York Times, writer Denise Grady expressed shock that so little is known about the placenta by scientists as well as the general public. In his book Life’s Vital Link, Y.W. Loke says that “many people do not know what the placenta is, let alone what it is for.” Of those people who do know about the placenta, there is veritable war going on, and the battlegrounds are hidden in plain sight. Hospital wards, research laboratories, and living rooms are all sites of intense placental debate, much of which is focused on one question: to eat or not to eat?

Consuming the placenta, scientifically known as placentophagy, is a complex issue which raises questions of maternal and fetal identity, bodily ownership, models for women’s healthcare, and the function of disgust in the regulation of what we eat and who we are. It challenges the borders between food, medicine, and flesh. The post-birth placenta is an object on the edge, not quite living or dead, not quite part of the baby or the mother, trapped in between desire and disgust.

On one hand, the medical community is using disgust to discourage mothers from eating their placentas, and on the other hand, they appropriate those placentas for pharmaceutical research. The natural birth movement utilizes narratives of pride to encourage placenta-eating, but leaves little room for more mainstream birth experiences. The majority of women are left out of the discussion entirely. In order to open women’s access to placental healing, we need to develop a new way of thinking about the placenta and what it can provide.

Feminist theorists have yet to consider placentophagy, though the uniquely marginalized experience of eating placenta exposes the hidden forces of patriarchal culture. As Donna Haraway writes in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women, women’s “troubling talent for making other bodies” continues to be central to lived sexual inequality. The forces of medico-capitalism are being pitted against women’s reproductive health in a dramatic clash that reveals the implicit misogyny of mainstream medicine. As Elspeth Probyn writes, “food and its relation to bodies is fundamentally about power.” The placenta is both food and body, and we should not underestimate the potential it holds for powerful new modes of understanding.

As evidenced by the buzz of recent media attention, the public is starting to ask questions about the human placenta. Both the New York Times and The Washington Post have published articles about the placenta within the last year.Shock and curiosity at eating afterbirth, has got people questioning the standard placenta protocol. Should we really be sending the organ to the incinerator as soon as it leaves the body? To answer this question, we need some context. So here is the quick and dirty low-down, placenta 101.

The word “placenta” is derived from the Latin word for cake, or possibly flatbread. This etymology is likely due to the shape of the placenta, but I find it noteworthy that, in its naming, the placenta is already related to food. Anatomically speaking, the placenta is the roughly disc-shaped organ which grows in the womb, and facilitates blood flow between the maternal and fetal systems during pregnancy.

All mammal species produce placentas, and every human being has been attached to one. The fetus grows within the membranes of the placenta (or amniotic sac), and is attached to the placenta via the umbilical cord.

The placenta has many known functions including nourishment of the fetus, protection from pathogens, and temperature and endocrine regulation. Researchers have found that the placenta produces as many, or more, endocrine and immune-system molecules than any other organ, except maybe the brain. This means that babies are born with immunity to many of the diseases that the mother has encountered in her lifetime. It also indicates that the post-birth placenta likely still contains these helpful molecules, which could be re-absorbed by eating.

The placenta is the point of connection, the translator in the 40 week conversation between mother and fetus. The placenta is the physical embodiment of the interdependence of human life, and as such, threatens liberal ideals of autonomy, upon which so much of our society is premised. Feminist scholars Emily Martin and Barbara Katz Rothman elucidate how birth has become a microcosm of liberal capitalism. Rothman writes that pregnant women have become “the unskilled workers on a reproductive assembly line,” and, as in all capitalist systems, alienation emerges as the overarching theme in modern obstetrics. For the purposes of this paper, I wish to emphasize the way in which midwifery care, particularly in regards to the placenta, rejects the patriarchal alienation of woman from her body and her baby.

I  use the term “motherbaby” to reinforce the interdependent and co-creative nature of the maternal-fetal relationship. That the motherbaby should not be treated as two separate beings is argued by Adrienne Rich, and is a central tenant of traditional midwifery care. In order to reframe the placenta as something valuable, we must challenge the forces of medico-capitalism that alienate mothers from all products of their labor.

(Continues)


Amy S.

Amy S.

Alexandria, Virginia, United States

I am non-profit grant writer with a BA in Women's Studies. I have published multiple articles for various academic and commercial media. I have particular knowledge in European history, Africana Studies, Feminist and Queer Theory, herbal healing, and midwifery.

Jobs Completed 28 Customer Ratings 14 Job Success 26/28 (92%)

Other content marketing examples from Amy S.

Revolution and Revival: Marxism Meets French Liberalism

In 1789 the National Assembly of France attempted to outline a framework for an ideal society, an... Read More

Analysis of Imperial Leather: A Review of Anne McClintock's Postcolonial Portrait

In Imperial Leather Anne McClintock develops a narrative of British imperialism beginning with an... Read More

Local High School Plays it Cool in West Side Story

Rocks, cans, bricks, chains, bottles, knifes, guns! And that was only in the first act of Thomas... Read More

Adolescent Literature and The Myth of Neutrality: An Opinion Piece

Teaching literature to adolescents is particular challenge for several reasons. Yo... Read More

Cultivating Creativity: How and Why to Find Our Fertile Ground

Human creativity has been the focus of much speculation and analysis throughout history. It is t... Read More

Examing Ecofeminism: Why Vandana Shiva Links Women and Earth

When Vandana Shiva argues that “the marginalization of women and the destruction of biodiversity... Read More

Similar content marketing examples from other writers

Controlling Incontinence

Controlling Incontinence Thrive/ Sheila Helmberger Certain medications, diet, and childbirth are... Read More

Kidney Stone Symptoms in Dogs

Kidney stone symptoms in dogs vary from frequent urination, dribbling urine to more severe sympto... Read More

Forget “Superfoods”—Focus on REAL Food

The current focus on so-called “superfoods” gives us a false sense of nutritional security. It su... Read More

Food + Your Mood — Pregnancy & Newborn

When you’re pregnant, your body undergoes immense changes—and so does your mood. You may be over ... Read More

Top Gluten Free Conferences and Events

Living with gluten sensitivities, celiac, and other food sensitivities can be challenging. By som... Read More

Do Alternative Treatments Really Work for Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain may be more common than you think, with thousands of Australian’s experiencing heada... Read More