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What happens to the Placenta in the hospital?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
After a Hospital delivery, what happens to the Placenta? I have searched online, and can't really find any definitive answer, besides "an exam" or "incineration" or "it gets sold" etc, there's lots of hypothetical where-it-goes...

Also, WHY would the hospital REFUSE to let me take mine home???

When my son was born, I wanted to keep my placenta, they told me it was against policy, it had to be taken to the lab, disposed of as "biohazardous waste" I asked 3 or 4 more times, and "are you sure" and "but you can't possibly let me take it anyways, can't i just sign something" etc. And they continued to tell me no. Of course this was right after delivery and they were all in a hurry to get it out of there, I was exhausted and couldn't really chase them down the hall for it. So off it went.

They did however, let me take a good extension of the umbilical cord home, just slipped it in a biohazardous waste bag and handed it to me. I asked them why they couldn't just do that with the placenta, but they ignored me, and when I pressed, brought back up "hospital policy" and "health regulations"

I know this is a small thing to some, most women don't even care as long as the hospital takes care of it. But I didn't like that, I asked for it, several times, and they refused. And then told me it had been destroyed. This made me angry, and I want to know, what do they do with them?? I feel like there's more to it than a quick look over and a toss out. I was insistent, and they were adamant to keep me from having it.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with it, even the doc on call (not the midwife I had been seeing) was admiring it, saying it was a nice healthy placenta. I didn't see any reason for them to take it for exam, and really did not want them to do that.

I hope I asked in the right place, sorry if I didn't do this right but I was really wanting answers on this.
post #2 of 14
Some hospitals allow you to take it home, it is certainly against policy but so is any number of things you can bypass. Maybe if you cite religious/spiritual beliefs your wish to take it will hold more sway. Or demand a lotus birth where the cord isn't cut at all. The exam they do is to see it's intact and healthy, that's always done hospital or home with midwife. Then yeah usually destroyed as biohazardous waste or sometimes parts of it are used in research. Often they'll put preservative chemicals in in like formalydhyde, if they do that, you don't want it anymore.

Or have a homebirth. Then you keep it, do what you like with it whether it's dried and made into pills to take for postpartum support, made into smoothies to drink, buried to decompose and nourish a tree, or frozen until you decide what to do.
post #3 of 14
There was recently a lawsuit where someone sued a hospital for their placenta and won...hopefully someone has the link. For this particular case, they put it in a freezer to do the normal exam on it and left it there until the lawsuit was settled. It had listed similar "outcomes" that you listed like research, destroyed, etc.
post #4 of 14
I was under the impression that anything they removed from your body was yours to take home if you wished--my mother was offered the stones from her gallbladder removal, LOL. I'd be interested to know what the law actually says--maybe it varies state by state.

At both hospitals I've delivered at, the policy was anything removed from the body is sent to pathology for analysis (yes, even placentas) and then presumably incinerated with the other medical waste. I never asked for my placenta (no desire to keep it whatsoever, just my personal preference).

Jen
post #5 of 14
I think they sell them to cosmetic companies.
post #6 of 14
The hospital I worked at incenerated them as biohazard waste. They were only sent to pathology if there was a concern (IUGR, 2 vessel cord, abruption, infection, etc).
Patients were free to take them if they wanted, although it wasn't common.
post #7 of 14
In every hospital I've worked at, patients were free to take them home, but very few ever asked. All of those hospitals burned them as biohazard waste.

One hospital, located in a college town, did donate placentas that were from certain criteria (certain age, no drug use during pregnancy, no hypertension), to a study at the university. I can't remember what the study was about, but it was for a dissertation, so it was a 5+ year study. But, if someone wanted their placenta, of course, they got it to take home.
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennica View Post
I think they sell them to cosmetic companies.
Are you kidding or do you have proof?
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by delphiniumpansy View Post
Are you kidding or do you have proof?
Nope, that's quite true. Many, many hospitals use placentas as a form of income--lots of lotions contain placenta and foreskin material because they're supposed to contain anti-aging ingredients. Other hospitals just dispose of them as biohazards like any other body product.

However, legally, the placenta (as well anything else from your body, like the gallstones mentioned above) belongs to you and the hospital CANNOT refuse to give it to you, even though they may try. They may insist on doing labwork on it first, although that's fairly stupid in my opinion, but they can't tell you you can't have it. If you want to keep it, tell them as soon as you get there, then tell them again during delivery, then tell them again as soon as the placenta arrives. Don't let them "forget" to give it to you, if it's important to you.
post #10 of 14
We were told we could keep it and take it home but we forgot about it. They told us that placentas used to be taken to help burn patients and people who needed skin grafts, but thats no longer done, they're just tossed in the incinerator.
post #11 of 14
When I had my daughter at our small local hospital, they offered me mine, several times. They kept saying, "Are you sure you don't want to keep it? Most people want theirs..." They acted almost like they weren't quite sure what to do with it if I didn't take it home. I think I must live in a crunchier area than I thought...
post #12 of 14
I always ask my families if they want to take it. A lot are surprised they can. Otherwise, they go out to be incinerated with the rest of the biohazard, unless it's being sent for pathology to an outside lab, in which case I have no idea what they do with it afterwards.
post #13 of 14
My sister's a pathologist... she sees lots of placentas. I think standard procedure is that they get sent to pathology, placed in formalin, and they take a quick look at the sections under the microscope to check for.. I don't know what? I'll ask her. Maybe they only bother doing this if there was a concern (IUGR etc)

In any case, she said that the issue with not giving yours to you is usually (this is in her experience in Seattle) that it's already been brought down to the lab and put in the formalin, which is pretty toxic and you don't want in your house (it gives off toxic fumes too). So if you ask for it too late they can't give it to you.

As long as you let them know BEFORE the birth that you want the placenta, I don't think it's usually a problem to get it.
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by kltroy View Post
My sister's a pathologist... she sees lots of placentas. I think standard procedure is that they get sent to pathology, placed in formalin, and they take a quick look at the sections under the microscope to check for.. I don't know what? I'll ask her. Maybe they only bother doing this if there was a concern (IUGR etc)

In any case, she said that the issue with not giving yours to you is usually (this is in her experience in Seattle) that it's already been brought down to the lab and put in the formalin, which is pretty toxic and you don't want in your house (it gives off toxic fumes too). So if you ask for it too late they can't give it to you.

As long as you let them know BEFORE the birth that you want the placenta, I don't think it's usually a problem to get it.
Hey, we're in Seattle! Our placentas go down to the lab and then are burned (sans formalin), unless they're going to path. We keep the "keeper" placentas separate and in rigid containers, mostly so they don't accidentally get trashed. But I know very few other hospitals in Seattle will let you take your placenta without a "religious" reason or jumping through a lot of hoops. (Besides, let's be honest: the great maw of Swedish is now doing the majority of births in King County, and they don't let you take the placenta, barring many hoops.)
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