The Placenta Lady

Nico Danks

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The Placenta Lady


One can describe Carrie Hankin’s home as a place of warm, chaotic love.  Her youngest daughter tugs on your hand, asking if you have children.  Her son is playing video games in the next room, its walls adorned with finger paintings and marker streaks.  A faux-hawked teenage girl swings open the screen door and says something along the lines of, “Mom, I thought you were out hunting for placentas.”

The intrepid placenta huntress.
The intrepid placenta huntress.

Most loving family homes don’t have what Carrie’s has: a room dedicated for the sterilization and processing of human placentas.  A former doula and apprentice to midwifery, Carrie has been specializing in placentas since 2008. She offers this service to the Denver Metro and Boulder area.

Carrie processes the placentas to help new mothers with postpartum depression, anemia, and increasing milk production.  After picking up the placenta from the new mother’s house, she will put them through a treatment process of steaming, dehydrating, and grinding them to a fine powder for vegetarian pill capsules.  Most services of this nature run up to about $200, but she has a greatly reduced cost to make it more accessible to lower income families.

Placentophagy, when mammals eat their placenta after giving birth, comes with a fair amount of controversy.  Aside from the “ick” factor that most Westerners associate with it, there is question of its scientific efficacy.  Unfortunately, what we’re lacking is a proper double-blind, placebo controlled, human study to really find out.

The original “Gray’s Anatomy”.

The studies that are out there are conflicting.  According to the NICHD, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, there are no health benefits.  However, this was admittedly based on studies that either were not rigorously followed through, thus giving mixed results, or done on animals such as mice.

There are a few studies that support the efficacy of placentophagy, some can be found on Carrie’s webpage,  Carrie is upfront that her services are not pharmaceutical, or intended to diagnose any condition.  Mothers are advised to do their own research when it comes to birthing decisions.

Take two of these, then call me in the morning...
Take two of these, then call me in the morning…

What can be guaranteed is that it is all done in a safe and sanitary manner.  Carrie is currently in grad school studying public health, with goals of pursuing a health system that is safer and more accessible to lower income women.  “It really is amazing and I am humbled to be a part of it. . .” she remarks on helping generations of families.