Many pregnant women I know who are considering placenta encapsulation or other placenta rituals are also planning a hospital birth. What you might not have considered is that you will need to do some logistical planning while you are still pregnant to get your placenta from the hospital to the person who is going to encapsulate your placenta while it is still fresh.
Have you thought about how you’re going to communicate your desire to keep your placenta with your provider and the hospital staff? Have you included this in your birth plan and made certain that your provider is on board with your decision? Having your doctor or nurse-midwife behind you is probably the single most important key to having your placenta released to you without any hassle. Have you planned for the storage and transfer of your placenta? Did you know that some hospitals have a ‘hold policy’ several days long that prevent them from releasing the placenta while it is still fresh? You will need to have a plan before you walk through the doors of the hospital in labor.
Chances of a positive childbirth experience in the hospital
improve greatly when you do your homework
and when you are confident in advocating for yourself.
This is especially true if you are planning to keep your placenta!
Your wishes are much more likely to be respected if they are well-documented clearly in your chart. Talk to your provider while you are at a prenatal visit, so that s/he can document your wishes in your chart. Your provider can also help you by communicating with the hospital staff and signing off on paperwork. S/he can also document your wishes for your baby’s placenta’s care clearly in your chart at the hospital.When you go into labor, be sure to talk to the nurse in charge of your care about your wishes for your placenta so that s/he can document your request in your chart, as well. If you are making a birth plan, make sure that you include a section about your expectations for the care of your baby’s placenta. A birth plan is your opportunity to ‘write’ in your own chart, since your birth plan becomes a part of your chart at the hospital.
You need to find out your hospital’s policy on releasing an organ (remember, this is a biophysical hazard in the medical model of care) and fill out any required paperwork in advance. Here in Portland, chances are that the labor and delivery nurses, doctors, and midwives have heard the request before. But even here in the PDX, you still need to be able to confidently advocate for yourself and your baby.
A sister doula who does encapsulation shared that in her experience, the Providence Hospital Systems are the least placenta-friendly hospitals when it comes to requests. Portland Providence is reported to be generally the hardest to negotiate with.They keep the placenta for 8 to 15 days (longer than anyone else). Their normal policy is to refrigerate them, but if you advocate to the care provider and the nurses (mostly the nurses) you can get them to put it in the freezer for the duration of the holding time.
Providence St. Vincent has recently changed their policy to allow for an immediate release. I’m not sure of the details yet, you should check with them directly if you are planning to have your baby there. Providence Milwaukie seems like the best of the local Providence hospitals. They have similar policies as far as length of holding, but I’ve been told that they put all of their placentas in larger tupperware-like containers and triple bag it.
Kaiser Sunnyside has a stated policy of keeping the placenta for 5-7 days, but they are reported to be very flexible when an OB is backing the request (midwives don’t seem to have the power to sign off on the required form). OHSU is very placenta-friendly. They have no policy of holding a placenta and allow a doula, placenta encapsulation specialist, or other family member take it after the birth. They will not let it come up to the recovery floor, so you have to ‘grab it off the counter’ before they move rooms. They have been reported to just wrap it in a trash bag, so if you are using your placenta for medicine, you should make sure to bring your own container. Legacy Good Samaritan doesn’t have explicit policies about holding or releasing the placenta, but they are reported to put up a fuss sometimes.
Not surprisingly, the most placenta-friendly providers in Portland are not hospitals at all. They are reported to be Alma Midwifery and Andaluz Birth Centers and also the Natural Childbirth and Family Clinic. Placenta encapsulation specialists report that they are great about respecting families’ wishes for their placentas and that they consistently have really nicely cared for, well-drained placentas.
I recommend that if you are requesting your placenta from the hospital, sharing less information with them about your plans for your placenta is better. Simply stating that you have religious or philosophical beliefs for your request should suffice. In fact, some placenta encapsulation specialists have reported that mentioning your plans, whether it be eating or burying your placenta, may actually cause the hospital staff to limit your access to your baby’s placenta. Portland Providence is reported to make the clients jump through a lot of bureaucratic hoops if you mention that you are using the placenta for encapsulation. Just stick to “religious or philosophical reasons.”
If the hospital does not place a hold on the placenta, don’t let it out of your sight! Sign for it right away and keep it with you. Get a cooler filled with ice to store it until someone can come and pick it up for you. Hospitals are busy places and proper care and storage of your placenta so that you can have it encapsulated is probably not the staff’s priority. I’m not saying it should or shouldn’t be, I just think it’s a safe bet that a hospital could mistakenly send it out to be destroyed as a biohazard, send it to pathology, or even just render it useless by not storing it properly.
For placenta medicine, a fresh placenta is the required. It probably necessary to have your placenta frozen if it will be held by the hospital. I would take special care to ensure that the hospital has a good, sturdy, well-marked container to freeze my baby’s placenta just in case there is a hold placed. I would even offer to provide such a container at my own expense, if it were my birth. The bottom line is that you are going to have to really advocate for what you need and negotiate with the hospital to make sure that they are following your wishes with respect. Then you need to follow up. There are too many horror stories about people whose placentas were ‘accidentally’ destroyed by hospital staff before they could be picked up.
We would love to make your placenta pills for you. Tia does all of our placentas for us and we jump through hoops to pick up your placenta and deliver your pills back to you within the shortest amount of time possible because we really believe in the importance of the placenta medicine we’re making. We know and recognize that you ::need:: your pills back promptly, so we’re going to take professional care of your baby’s placenta, treat it with respect and work under sanitary conditions, and return professionally dehydrated, ground, and encapsulated pills to you to take with a ‘zero ick factor’.
If you’d like to arrange for us to take encapsulate your placenta and/or make a tincture for you, please contact
or call me at the center (503) 206-7715
and I’ll help you through the process!