Placenta Encapsulation — An Option to Tackle the Baby Blues by Zoe Richmond

The days after giving birth a critical.  They are not only a critical time for the newborn baby, but they are also critical to the mother.  It’s also an exhausting time.  There is the physical exhaustion of the delivery, or the painful recuperation from a C-section. There is the grueling schedule of having to adapt to your new baby’s schedule.  There is also the flux of hormones coursing through your body.

It can be overwhelming.  So overwhelming in fact, that the Centers for Disease Control state that about 20 percent of women suffer from post-partum depression.  Post-partum depression, or as is sometimes referred to by it’s non-threating name “Baby Blues” is not a new condition.  It’s obvious to assume the hormones causing Post-partum Depression, PPD, have been around since women have been giving birth.  But it seems in recent years that women have been able to talk about it.  Doctors have been brining this up to soon-to-be mothers and resources made known before a woman leaves the hospital.

I was fortunate, I felt a little swamped at time but I was able to stave off depression.  I have my family and husband to thank; they were very supportive and hands-on.

Amanda Jaramillo shows off a bottle of placenta capsules.  She is the owner of Heaven Sent Placenta Encapsulation Services in Arizona.

Amanda Jaramillo shows off a bottle of placenta capsules. She is the owner of Heaven Sent Placenta Encapsulation Services in Arizona.

But I give most of my gratitude to Amanda Jaramillo.  I meet Amanda through Yelp.  She is a placenta encapsulator in Arizona ( ).

Amanda’s dedication to new mothers is amazing.  Her journey began when she was pregnant with her son eight years ago.  She had gone the traditional route.  She went to an OBGYN during her whole pregnancy.  It wasn’t until she toured the hospital that she realized this was not the birth she wanted to experince.  Amanda sprung into action.  In the short time she had left, she planned her home birth.  She enlisted the help of a mid-wife and doula.

This last-minute 180 propelled Amanda into her new career as a doula.

“I couldn’t have done a home birth without a doula,” Amanda said.  “This was my passion, what I want to do.  That’s when I decided to become a doula.”

It was during her doula training that she learned about the benefits of ingesting the placenta.

“My teacher had horrible post-partum depression, and it wasn’t until her 4th child that she tried placenta capsules,” said Amanda.  “Her story and other’s I heard made me refer my clients to someone who could process their placentas into capsules.”

After years of refereeing her patients, she realized she could do it herself.   She started Heave Sent Placenta Encapsulation Services.

“When I first started, I told my husband, I would be happy if I had one or two clients a month, right now I average about 150 a year,” Amanda said.

About the process

I used to have a high level of “ickyness,” then I became a mom.  So it wasn’t until my children were toddlers that I circled back with Amanda to understand the process of placenta encapsulation.

There is no official certification to make the capsules, so Amanda trained under another provider.  She got her certification inn blood-born pathogens and is a certified food handler.

“When you are dealing with blood, you have to do it safely.” She said.  “It’s like cooking.”

Amanda’s job starts with the “hand-off.”  It’s hard not to visualize her in a dark alley as a stranger hands her a briefcase.  But this hand-off does happen at homes or hospital waiting areas.  She gets the clients placenta in cooler.  Usually a family member has the dubious task of either taking her the organ or she makes arrangements with the family to pick up at the hospital shortly after the deliver.

Before beginning the processing of the placenta, she makes sure she has a clean sterile area.  The placenta is then cut and dehydrated.  Once the placenta has been dehydrated and it’s hard and moisture-fee.  She grinds the jerky-like substance into a powder.  The power gets put into see-through gel capsules.

“Theoretically, someone could do this at home themselves, but who really wants to be working on this and dealing with a newborn.”  She said.

Finally, the capsules are dropped back off at the mother’s house.

The pretty jar that held my placenta capsules where kept in the fridge.  I put a damper on the “ickyness” factor by just calling them “capsules.”  I took them along with ibuprofen and pretended they were vitamins.

The checklist

I became such a believer in placenta capsules, that I enlisted Amanda’s support for my second child as well.   Amanda cautions that everyone is different.

“There is no guarantee,” said Amanda of taking placenta capsules. “But in the time I have been providing this service, I have only had two people that said they didn’t feel a difference.”

If you are considering placenta encapsulation, here is a little checklist to get you started.

Start your search early.  About month 6 or 7 is a good time to research providers in your area.  It’s important to make sure they have availability.  This is not a conversation you want to have with placenta in hand.

Ask questions.  Make sure you ask providers what type of certifications they may have.  Although there is no certification for placenta encapsulators, they should be certified in food handling and blood born pathogens.  Ask them about their process for sterilization and how they ensure your placenta will not be delivered to another mom.

Add it to the birthing plan.  Make sure when you go to the delivery room, your doctor and hospital staff know you want to keep the placenta.  You may want to call ahead to understand the hospital’s policy.  For example, in Arizona the placenta needs to be removed from the hospital within the hour.  So a cooler is a must-take to the hospital.

Take them.  The turn around time for the capsules is 2-4 days depending on the provider.  Amanda recommends taking two capsules twice a day for the first week, then twice a day for two weeks.

Or store them.  The number of capsules varies depending on the size of the placenta.  If you find you have some left over consider putting them in the freezer and taking them again in the future if you find yourself with some hormonal imbalance.

The research about a mother ingesting a placenta is ongoing. And the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming.  When you consider how much you do for your newborn’s well being, doesn’t it make sense to give yourself a little edge too?  Especially, when you have professional out there that can handle the icky-factor.


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