Recent Posts

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Woman wins right to keep placenta after birth

According to this news report , a Las Vegas woman has fought her battle with a local hospital to keep her placenta after the baby was born. She planned on encapsulating it and using it to combat postpartum depression.

The hospital put up a fight about it and lost, but not before they warned the patient not to ingest it because it could be 'contaminated.' They told her it was "contaminated medical waste and that federal law required them to dispose of it."

Apparently, the hospital told the woman that it carried risk of being tainted with Hepatitis, HIV, etc. which is all true. However, don't you think that a person interested in the benefits - however subject to scrutiny they might be - of eating their own placenta is aware of this? I'm also curious how, if she doesn't have any blood-borne illnesses now, she is going to get sick from eating it? If you already have HIV, for instance, eating your placenta isn't going to make you get HIV - you've already got it. Right?

It also makes me wonder what exactly they mean by 'contamination' - as if to suggest that perhaps their storage of such an organ is being compromised and she could get a blood-borne illness from someone else?

In my state, pregnant women are tested for many blood-borne pathogens such as HIV, hepatitis - the works. After three normal pregnancies and a stable sex life with one partner, I pretty much know by now that I do not have HIV or hepatitis.

One thing the article mentioned struck a nerve with me: it starts in about how the placenta is full of hormones, etc. but then goes on to say the practice of encapsulating and eating the placenta is "far from widespread." As if to imply, you're a complete nutjob if you even entertain the idea of doing this. It also mentions how the field of traditional Western medicine is skeptical that eating it can be useful for anything at all.

A physician quoted in the article said that 'animals eat their placenta for nutritional reasons,' but speculated that with our better diets, there was no need for humans to do this. It makes me wonder - sometimes we see things in the animal kingdom that make more sense than we realize, as if they're on to something that we don't understand yet.

I think we can recall a number of procedures that have slowly worked their way into our traditional medical culture: acupuncture, for one, is beneficial for many. Just because it seems weird doesn't mean it might not deserve a place in our model of medicine, where everything is over the top and excessive.

The article ended on this interesting note: there is no law in Nevada that says the woman can't keep her placenta (so the fact that the patient's hospital told her it was against "federal law" might be a lie?), but usually it's not kept unless a doctor needs it for medical tests, or unless a patient asks for it because of "religious or cultural reasons." So "just because you want to," even though it is a part of YOU and something your own body created, is not a good enough reason.

One woman who commented on the story through a FaceBook link remarked that her doctor wanted to keep her placenta to use for educational purposes. The doctor respectfully asked first, even though there was a good chance that the patient never would have known the difference. Perhaps this doctor recognizes that this organ - a unique one that only certain people at certain times can make! - was part of her body - not just 'medical waste.'


MJ said...

For me the idea of eating any organ is nasty, I am barely a meat eater, so the idea of eating a blood organ like the placenta is gag.

Do I believe she has the right to- yup. My body my choice applies to more than just a few things it applies to all things. I am glad she fought and won as they lied to her which is not right.

Anonymous said...

I'm not up for eating one myself, but I'm glad she stood up for what she wanted and won! I'm donating mine to a team that trains search and rescue and cadaver dogs. One placenta can be used for up to 100 training sessions.

The Deranged Housewife said...

LOL You can encapsulate it and ingest it, which sounds a lot easier to stomach than making a sandwich out of it (which I've seen photos of - not my cup of tea!). Apparently, among other things, it's useful to help treat postpartum depression.

One person made the point that even domesticated, otherwise well-nourished animals like cats and dogs *still* eat their placenta, so perhaps the argument that "well-nourished people don't need it for nutrients" is garbage.