Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hospital Release of Your Placenta

If you are birthing at a hospital, you will find that the rules and regulations regarding the release of a healthy placenta will vary from one institution to another.  Some hospitals will release it immediately without a fuss and some have protocols about keeping placentas in pathology for anywhere from 5 to 15 days.  They do this in case the baby or mother gets sick at which point they would go back and autopsy the placenta to look for the source of infection or abnormalities.  However, the argument can be made that if the mother and baby are well enough to go home, then it should be fine to send the placenta home as well.   The following are some suggestions for navigating the system in general as well as some information on individual hospital policies.

Who and How to Ask

~ Talk to your care providers about your wishes before hand and write them in your birth plan.  Make it clear that you would like it to be released to you immediately.  If the hospital's policy is to keep it for longer than 2 or 3 days, make it clear that you want it to be frozen immediately and returned to you after the holding time is up.  You do not need to tell them what exactly you want your placenta for: "Personal Beliefs" should, legally, be reason enough and if you do chose to tell them, their personal beliefs should not stand in the way of your rights to your own organ. 

~ Frequently the doctors do not know what the hospital policy really is regarding placental release so you will need to clear everything with your nurse or the head nurse since they are the ones held responsible for where the placenta goes.  Sometimes though, your care provider may be willing and able to just sign off on your chart that you can have it released to you.

~ Make it very clear that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD IT BE TREATED WITH THE HARMFUL CHEMICAL FORMALIN OR FORMALDEHYDE!  If your placenta will be stored in the pathology department, then ask your nurse to clearly write your wishes on the outside of the placenta container so that there is no mix up.

~ When filling out your admission or pre-admission paperwork, pay attention to anything regarding "products of conception," "care of the afterbirth," or "products of birth."  By signing this, you are basically signing over your placenta to the hospital.  Instead, you may write "I do not consent" on that part of your paperwork.

~ The hospital may be more comfortable releasing your placenta if you have a "Release of Liability" waiver.  You can find one online or if you plan on using my services I can send one to you.

~ If your current hospital is not willing to release your placenta to you, you can think about switching to a different hospital with more open release policies or use a homebirth or birth center midwife instead.  Feel free to contact me for referrals.

~ As a latter resort, you might consider the threat of going to the media or to court or.  

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