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Placenta pill use on the rise in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- No one said giving birth was easy, but for Amanda Richey, it was especially emotional.

"I actually suffered from postpartum depression the first time. It just really, really affected me," she said.

It was the same after her second.

"When you have the baby blues or anxiety or postpartum depression, it's just paralyzing."

Desperate and willing to try anything during her third pregnancy, Amanda turned to a fairly new phenomenon called placenta encapsulation. Mothers keep their placenta, which is the organ surrounding the baby in the womb. They then pack it into pill capsules and take them like they would a vitamin.

"I just thought what better way to avoid those things."

Most moms who tried it claim their energy and milk production increased, and they beat they baby blues.

"It really made a huge difference for my mood and energy."

Kathy Burrows is a trained placenta preparation specialist. She's worked with hundreds of women in the Mid-South.

"It's kind of like deveining a shrimp," she said of the process.

In your home or hers, she uses equipment to clean the organ, then steams it with herbs, dehydrates, dries and puts it into the capsules. It costs $180, takes about a day and usually produces 100 pills.

Most hospitals are used to the practice now. Most of the time it just involves signing a release. However, the hospital won't hand over any placentas that have known pathogens.

Placenta allows for the exchange of nutrients, blood and waste from the mother to the fetus during pregnancy. It's packed with iron, nutrients and minerals, but there's little medical research supporting any real health benefits.

"Alternative, natural options are definitely worth trying."

Kimberly Alston is a Doula in Memphis and said placenta encapsulation is growing in popularity.

"It seems like the women that I am running into in Memphis are wanting to explore natural options."

As for Amanda, she said giving birth in July was a more enjoyable experience and she credited her placenta pills for that.

"I didn't feel weepy like a lot of people do. I felt happier."