Heather Felder always knew she wanted to work in the “healing arts.” But it was her own pregnancies and births that sparked her passion for serving and advocating for new and expecting mothers.
Known as “the Dewdrop Doula,” Heather is a certified DONA birth doula, HypnoBirthing® practitioner, and trained placenta encapsulation specialist. The last designation is the one that draws the most questions.
“Some assume that my clients and I do weird magic, are chasing a celebrity fad, or are hippies,” she says. “But in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Her journey with placenta encapsulation began in 2016 when a family member asked her for a referral to an encapsulator and she couldn’t find any in the area. “I realized our area desperately needed a qualified professional encapsulator,” Heather recalls. She immediately began training with the International Placenta and Postpartum Association (IPPA).
Strictly adhering to safe and sanitary preparations is important to Heather. She is certified with OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard and has completed the ServSafe Food Handler course for the State of Alabama.
Since December 2016, Heather has encapsulated more than 150 placentas and created more than 500 placenta prints and keepsakes.
“I am now a firm believer and advocate for respectful placenta care and encapsulation,” she says. “I have seen firsthand the benefits and joy these birthing individuals receive from their encapsulation and keepsake prints.”
Though she knows it’s “not for everyone,” she is hopeful that our culture will become increasingly respectful and accepting of the practice. “It is such an honor to be entrusted with this magnificent organ and to be trusted to provide respectful, safe, high-quality encapsulation for individuals in Alabama,” she says.
What Is Placenta Encapsulation?
Placenta encapsulation refers to the process of dehydrating the placenta and grinding it into a coarse powder, which is placed in small capsules for the mother to consume. The practice is derived from centuries-old Chinese medicine and has gained popularity in the United States, though it is controversial. Many believe the benefits include the following:
- Increased milk supply
- Decreased postpartum bleeding
- Improved hormone balancing
- Nutrient replenishment
- A sense of well-being
- A happier postpartum period overall
Note: Some mothers report insomnia, excessive energy, and a warm, flushed feeling. Heather notes that these symptoms are often easily corrected by adjusting the consumption amount, increasing fluids and food, and changing time of day of consumption.
What Are Placenta Keepsakes?
Some families (whether or not they choose placenta encapsulation) also want a reminder of the organ that sustained their child. Heather offers three options:
Placenta Prints: Watercolor imprints display the size, shape, and general appearance of the placenta. The prints are a reminder of why the placenta is often called “the tree of life.”
Keepsake Cord: The umbilical cord can be dehydrated and formed into a meaningful shape. Many families choose to keep it in a shadow box or baby book.
Keepsake Pendant: This one-of-a-kind jewelry incorporates the placenta.