Common protocol at the majority of US hospitals today is to discard the placenta as medical waste, or to retain it in the pathology department for a period of time before discarding it. You birthed your placenta, and it is your right to take it home; however, many times hospital staff are uncomfortable releasing it since it is outside their normal protocol, but with the right planning and information, you should easily be able to get them to release it to you at the time of birth.
Here are some helpful suggestions:
- Talk to your doctor or midwife well ahead of time about your wishes to retain the placenta immediately after it is birthed. He/she is the most important person to have on your side in this issue, as they will catch the placenta and direct its future course. Remind them again as your due date approaches, and put it in writing in your birth plan. Also, sign a copy of my hospital release form and have it on file with your doctor or midwife.
- Ask your Dr or midwife if they are familiar with the hospital’s policy about releasing the placenta and ask them to talk to the head nurse ahead of time to act as your advocate for your placenta’s release. Provide the head nurse with a copy of the hospital release form and inform them that it releases the hospital of all liability regarding the placenta.
- As soon as you are admitted to the hospital, ask your doctor to write an order on your hospital chart that your placenta be released to you immediately after it is birthed and remind the head nurse about your wishes and ask that all staff be notified of your wishes. Make sure a written copy of your birth plan that includes your wishes about the placenta is in your hospital file. If your admission paperwork mentions retaining products of conception, care of the afterbirth, or products of birth, be sure to write “I do not consent” on this form.Once you’ve gotten permission to have your placenta released, you need to remain vigilant to ensure that it is cared for correctly in order to maintain its integrity.
- Once you birth the placenta, your doctor or midwife will inspect it for tears, abnormalities, missing pieces and place it in a bowl. If all is well with the placenta, this is the best time to take it into your possession, while it is still fresh and has not left your sight. Ask your birth partner to get the container you have provided and place the placenta in your cooler on ice. Get it home and in the fridge to await my arrival.
- If for any reason you allow your placenta to leave the room make it very clear that it should be immediately refrigerated or frozen and that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD IT BE TREATED WITH ANYTHING. Ask that your wishes be written directly on the placenta’s container.
- Feel free to contact me if you have further questions or issues getting your placenta released.