New mothers who want to consume their placentas are running into more problems than the gag reflexes of the people they tell about it. Placenta consumption has become a serious trend, with everyone from crunchy Brooklyn mothers all the way to Hollywood’s starlets eating their afterbirth and raving about it. But some hospitals aren’t making it easy.
In particular, NYU Langone Medical Center has gotten negative attention lately for its current policy, which forces mothers looking to procure their placenta to head down to the hospital morgue. But the outcry has paid off — Langone will soon be changing the way it handles those placenta transactions.
As The Wall Street Journal reported not too long ago, the medical facility currently regards placenta as medical waste. And even though the organ quite literally just fell out of you, getting it back requires more than a few pushes and stitches. Mothers have to collect their placenta through a funeral director.
But the new “lenient” policy, which is still in the process of being drafted, will allow mothers to be the direct recipient of their own placentas.
Flavia Contratti, senior nurse clinician at the maternity ward, informs Mommyish that new mothers looking to encapsulate that placenta or perhaps just have a placenta facial, must at present head down to the morgue for pickup. She says that although a birthing center can simply hand over the placenta in a Tupperware, NYU’s current policy requires that mommies consider a list of funeral directors, provided after birth, to collect their own bodily matter — a service which will also set them back an additional couple $100 or so.
The push back from ladies eager to consume that placenta manifested in a petition that demanded NYU to draft a new, more relaxed policy. Josephine Gale, a former patient at Langone, commented on the petition that her struggle to collect her placenta was hardly simple, even with NYU’s assistance:
“It took me and my husband 10 days to find a licensed funeral director who knew what we wanted and was willing to pick up the placenta for us. We called all the recommendations given by NYU and none of them were able to help. We called about 7 funeral homes to eventually find 1 who would do it.”
Elizabeth Maher, a new aunt, wrote that the “time consuming” process seemed far from what a new mother needs to be saddled with, writing:
“My sister in law just went through this process at NYU and it seemed needlessly frustrating and time consuming for her, especially a day after giving birth.”
The petition letter, entitled “Women do not need an Undertaker for their Afterbirth!” states that women need those first few days for baby bonding, not for hanging on telephone lines:
Many women are choosing NYU because of their progressive Baby Friendly status; let’s help mothers bond with their newborns and spend those early hours breastfeeding – not making phone calls and paying for an unnecessary service. Remind NYU that New York State allows hospitals to release healthy placentas that are wanted for religious or cultural purposes.
Contratti maintains that a mother’s placenta is very easily obtained at the hospital, adding “No patient has ever been denied their placenta.” But the stringent policy has resulted in some bizarre stories, specifically regarding stolen placentas, according to Contratti. The nurse says that one was lifted a couple of years ago when a doula snuck the organ into a bucket and exited the premises. She shudders over the phone as she considers the health risks for such a stunt, including HIV, hepatitis, as well as the wealth of bacteria that might climb in from one single subway ride.
But the NYU staff has heard the dissatisfied voices of their patients and is responding accordingly. The new policy, which she says is still being legally sorted out, will allow the placenta to be released directly to the patient. Ladies will have to sign a release and after the placenta has been through medical testing, mothers can take the afterbirth home for oral consumption or religious practices.
Marianne J. Harkin, senior director of Professional Practice and Obstetric Services at NYU, confirms that the new placenta policy will be more “lenient” and that she and her team are “still working out the details.”
Neither party would comment on a deadline to introduce the new policy or when mothers can expect to take their placenta home in doggy bags along with “It’s A Girl!” balloons. But with metropolitan hospitals like NYU Langone Medical Center updating their rules to accommodate this swanky placenta trend, the metaphoric door has officially been left wide open for a wealth of new hospital accessories or “must haves.” How long before mommies packing for the hospital check off not only an outfit for baby to come home in, but also brand name containers in which to carry home their placenta?
Get on it, Gerber.