More new moms are not just arriving home with a bundle of joy. The stork is also bringing something else, a bottle of capsules made from the mother's own placenta.
What used to be considered trash is now the latest treasure that some new moms claim helps with everything from postpartum depression to fatigue.
When we first visited Michelle Paquette of Roanoke we realized she's like most moms to be. She had her baby's room ready to go with a changing table and crib and a closet full of clothes. She also had something else.
"This is my placenta police badge," Paquette said as she pointed proudly at a badge with the words "placenta police." " I've assigned a friend who is the placenta police. She will be in charge of making sure my placenta is put into my cooler," Paquette said.
Yes Paquette's placenta will be put in a cooler, then made into capsules that she'll take after she gives birth.
"So it's not like you're eating it like it's a steak or anything. It's like a pill. It's like a multivitamin," Paquette explained. "I figured I could swallow that. That would not be so bad."
Paquette is one of a growing number of women paying for something called placenta encapsulation where the placenta is made into pills and ingested. The placenta is an organ in the uterus of pregnant women that nourishes and maintains the fetus through the umbilical cord. After birth it is usually just thrown away.
unless you're having placenta encapsulation done.
"A lot of people think it's crazy but then when you explain all the benefits," Paquette said.
Jessie Metcalf is a mother of four in Salem who calls herself Roanoke's placenta lady. She can tell you all about the benefits of placenta encapsulation.
"Prevention of post postpartum depression, an increase in milk production, an increase in energy and combating fatigue.," Metcalf said.
After suffering severe postpartum depression with one child this Salem mom looked into natural options with her next. She decided to try placenta encapsulation where she took her own placenta and made it into capsules.
"I felt energized. I had a sense of peace in knowing I was doing what I could do to prevent it from coming back." Metcalf said.
Now she's the one who does the service for other moms. "It's not something I have to do but I just like to do it.."
So the former Douala, busy mother of four, and full time software analyst has another title- the placenta lady. She's the one who picks up the cooler that keeps a new mom's placenta fresh and takes it home.
Metcalf took us into her kitchen to show us the steps. First she steams the placenta in a wok and then it's sliced and put into a dehydrator for several hours. The placenta is then ground and put into capsules.
Metcalf then takes a small piece of umbilical cord and dehydrates that as well. She shapes it into a heart as a tiny keepsake for the new mom.
Meanwhile several weeks later we checked in with Michelle Paquette at her Roanoke home as she cooed at her four day old baby boy. "He was six pounds and 14 ounces and he was 20 and half inches," Paquette said.
"I delivered on Thursday and she brought them to me on Saturday morning and there they are just like a vitamin," Paquette said as she showed the blue container holding her placenta pills.
"You take one on the first day, two on the second day and depending on how you're feeling you can take three to four each day," Paquette said.
"We've been doing really good with breast feeding went to the doctor and everything was fine," Paquette said. "No problems no complications. He was fine. I was fine."
Paquette is one of several of Metcalf's clients as placenta encapsulation grows in popularity.
"You see families taking a more pro active natural approach," Metcalf said. "I've had really positive feedback and I've never had anybody say I wish I didn't do that."
"I'm not here to sell it to people," Metcalf said. "There's plenty of information out there. They can look it up and see if they're interested in it and I'm just here to do it for them."
Note: At last check Paquette said she's 100% sold on placenta encapsulation. She told WDBJ7 she stopped for three days and could feel the difference.