Women who give birth at home have the luxury of being in complete control over the care and handling of their baby’s placenta. A woman who births in a hospital has to adhere to the guidelines and policies in place at their facility of choice. In some cases, there is no written policy, and mothers are then subjected to the whim of the staff on duty at the time they deliver. If you want to take your placenta home after its birth, you must have a plan before you walk through the doors in the deep throes of labor. Your chance of success will increase greatly.
You must have a plan before you walk through the hospital doors in labor.
Hospitals vary in their willingness to give women their placentas. Start by talking with your doctor. You do not need to share with your OB what you intend to do with the placenta, just that you would like to have it after your baby is born. Doctors do not always know the details of hospital policies – nurses spend the majority of time with patients, and they will be the ones who can best help you with your request. Call the hospital and ask to talk to a charge nurse.
Express your desire to have your placenta, and ask about the hospital’s policy for releasing them.
I have a Liability Waiver that was written by a lawyer and is available to all of my clients. If you should run into resistance with the nursing staff, tell them you have this legal document that you are willing to sign, releasing them of any liability should they give the placenta to you. Each hospital has their own version of a form called Consent to Release Products of Conception (or something similar); placenta applies under those guidelines, so ask if they would release your placenta if you were you to sign that form.
If they still say they will not give you the placenta, state the fact that you have a “profound belief” in the sacred nature of the placenta. You only have to have a profound belief in something to have it fall into the category of a spiritual/religious belief. So, if you have a profound belief that the placenta will help you postnatally, that counts. Again, you don’t have to say what you will be doing with it – it’s a private matter. A request based on a spiritual belief is more likely to be honored than one based on your desire to ingest it for its purported health benefits, which hospital staff will probably view with skepticism.
As a last resort, it may also help to mention the recent court victory here in Nevada, in the case of Swanson vs. Sunrise Hospital. A judge declared that the baby’s placenta was the property of the mother, and should be released to her.
Enter your negotiations with a spirit of friendly cooperation.
Understand that your request may be the very first time the other person has ever heard about someone wanting to take a placenta home. Keep in mind that resistance may just be an initial reaction to something new and unusual, and probably fear-based. Knowledge and preparation help eradicate fear. Have a plan for your initial conversation, call in advance and be willing to cooperate with the hospital policies (some hospitals need to hold the placenta for a number of days before releasing it, for example).
Have a plan, a spirit of open communication, and be empowered. You give birth to your placenta just as your baby. You have the right to take them both home.
Originally appearing in the August 2007 edition of the PBi Newsletter
Written by Jodi Selander