Are Alternative Birthing Practices a Good Idea?

Feb. 18, 2022 — Can I eat my placenta? Is a water birth safe for my baby? These are a couple of the questions that more people have been asking Sarah Pachtman, MD, over the past couple of years amid a boom in alternative birthing practices.

Pachtman, an obstetrics and gynecology doctor and a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine at Northwell Health in New York City, and the voice behind the @healthymamadoc Instagram account, says interest in these practices has been fueled — at least in part — by the pandemic.

“There’s a lot of distrust in the medical system and a lot of distrust in the way physicians practice now. And I think COVID and the pandemic amplified that a lot,” she says.

Recent interest in alternative practices has included water births, encapsulating and eating the placenta, and even vaginal seeding, or smearing

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