MEDFORD, Ore. – The new year brought what many consider a bizarre law to Oregon: allowing mothers to legally bring home their babies placenta.
The placenta is the organ that provides a baby nourishment in the womb. In some cultures, it holds great meaning. For instance, the Navajo and other native tribes bury it during a ceremony.
Providence Medford Medical Center has always allowed parents to bring home the afterbirth as long as they sign a form recognizing they are taking possession of what is considered “medical bio-waste.”
The birth center says they have seen an increase in the number of parents asking about saving the placenta and expect that to increase.
“I think it’s really great that we have a state law now that advocates for women and their families rights to the placenta, so that if they have spiritual practices or cultural practices that now they can follow through with that and not come into a hospital having fears that they won’t be able to follow through with those practices,” said Mary Jane Durham, a registered nurse at Providence.
Providence representatives estimated 20% of mothers request the placenta, often saying they plan to bury into underneath a new tree.
Asante released this statement regarding the new law:
“Asante birth centers have always honored a new mother’s request to take her placenta with her upon discharge if she wished. There has been no noticeable increase in the number of requests to obtain placentas since the law went into effect. If the family chooses not to take the placenta, it is considered medical waste and hospital staff dispose of it properly according to state regulations.”