For many women the placenta is something that is quickly disposed of after birth but now many women are using the nutrient rich organ to head off postpartum depression.

The placenta is packed with iron, hormones and amino acids and some believe that ingesting it can restore those levels after pregnancy.

The idea of making use of the placenta is not new and even though few studies have actually examined the health benefits, many moms are eager to try it.

The practice of eating the placenta is called placentophagy. Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of eating a fresh placenta so dried placenta capsules are a popular alternative.

"I had heard that people eat it with a knife and a fork and that was not something I could do but when I heard you could put it in a capsule and take it like a vitamin, I thought that is very palatable. " said Calgary mom, Susan Stewart LaForest.

Stewart LaForest suffered from PPD after her first son in 2008. She found breast feeding difficult and became stressed and depressed.

She is passionate about natural therapies and when she heard about placenta encapsulation she was hooked.

She processed the placenta from her last child in her own kitchen and was amazed at the difference in her energy levels after taking it. She then created her own business, Pure Birth Services, to dry and encapsulate placentas for other women.

Stewart Laforest says the placenta supplement helps to balance the hormones, enhance milk supply and increase energy in women who have recently given birth.

"A lot of it is anecdotal however, with the number of mothers who said it made a huge difference it's hard to ignore," said Stewart LaForest, "I found definitely I had an increase in milk supply, definitely I had more energy."

The number of women who choose to ingest encapsulated placentas is thought to be small but the practice is growing through word of mouth.

For more information on placenta encapsulation, visit the Pure Birth Services website.

(with files from