Placenta encapsulation is an increasingly common thing to do post-pregnancy, but a pregnant Mississippi woman was surprised to find that she would need a court order giving her the right to her own placenta postpartum.
Jordan Thiering, of Brandon, Mississippi, decided during her pregnancy that she wanted to encapsulate her placenta. She conveyed her intentions to her hospital and was told that she would need to obtain a court order to do so, which, not surprisingly, shocked her, since it is a part of her own body. Mississippi's state epidemologist, in a memo obtained by the Clarion-Ledger, wrote that the placenta was medical waste, and "no hospital or other facility may release non-infectious medical waste (including placental tissue) without there first having been obtained by a court order, or other judicial mandate, which will assure proper disposal by the release."
Theiring was shocked, undoubtedly, to hear that her placenta was considered a biohazard, and in some states, rules for transporting an organ apply to the placenta. In fact, it is up to each hospital, and in some cities officials and doctors either simply turn a blind eye or help women unofficially get their "medical waste" out the door safely and without incident. Requests for placentas are reportedly on the rise but still uncommon enough that many hospitals do not have updated regulations for how to deal with them, and many hospitals are nervous about the health implications, as it is fairly unsanitary to transport.
The supposed health benefits of encapsulation are many, but most often include helping to fight postpartum depression, and the practice has gotten a bump in popularity in recent years as celebrities like January Jones, Kourtney Kardashian, and Alicia Silverstone have admitted to doing it. Usually, after giving birth to a baby, a woman takes her placenta home in a cooler, and often transfers it to a placenta-encapsulation service. The service then usually rinses, dries, freezes, and sometimes cooks the placenta before grinding it up and filling capsules with it for ingestion over a period of weeks. Theiring, who had enough time to successfully obtain the court order so that she can take her placenta home with her, said, "I don't think it's right for someone who has no experience to dictate what a woman can do with her body ... he's not a woman. He shouldn't have a right to dictate what I can do with my body."