Frequently Asked Questions
If you are having a homebirth, your midwife or doula will usually double bag it and ask if you want it refrigerated, frozen or thrown out. If you call HVPS and it is agreed that we can begin the process within 48 hours of the birth then it's fine in the fridge. It should be stored in the back of the fridge where the temperature remains more constant than by the door. If preparation will not begin for more than 48 hours, it should be double freezer bagged (gallon size is perfect) and placed in the back of the freezer until the day before we are scheduled to come when it should be placed in the back of the fridge to start to thaw.
If you are having a hospital birth, be sure your provider knows before the birth that you are requesting the release of your placenta and that your birthing location has a policy in place. The placenta is not to be treated with any chemicals such as formalin/formaldehyde. The nurse may double bag it in biohazard bags or gallon-size freezer bags or they may allow you to double bag it and bring it home in your own ice-filled cooler. The disposable Styrofoam coolers work quite well for this purpose. Regardless of what it is packaged in, the placenta must be properly sealed and iced or refrigerated until preparation. The same guidelines as above apply for the proper refrigeration and freezing of the placenta. To avoid damage to the placenta please check that it is properly sealed in it's bags and container before refrigerating or freezing and also before transporting.
How do I obtain my placenta following the birth?
If you are having a homebirth, your midwife or doula will usually double bag it and ask if you want it refrigerated, frozen or thrown out. Follow the guidelines mentioned above for handling and storage.
If you are having a hospital birth, make sure you speak to your provider and nurse manager at your birth place ahead of time. You should specify, if it is not already part of their policy, that you require the placenta remain untainted by chemicals and fixatives. Your care provider should note it in your chart and you can note it on your birth plan as well. If the hospital requires documentation and does not have their own form, be sure to fill out and have your care provider sign off on the provided Placenta Release Form.
Each hospital has their own policy regarding placenta release and may have their own form for you to sign as well. If you are delivering at Vassar, please click here for a copy of their form. I haven't had an issue with placenta release at Vassar Brothers Medical Center, Northern Dutchess Hospital, Catskill Regional Medical Center or Hudson Valley Hospital Center. Be sure to get your hospital's placenta release policy in writing along with a copy of their release form, prior to your birth, so there will be no problems following the birth. If your birth place doesn't have a policy or their policy is against release, you can work with the Risk Management Department, Nurse Manager and Patient Care Coordinator to create a better policy.
In New York State, healthy mothers have the right to bring their own healthy placenta home according to the New York State Department of Health. See this e-correspondence (please note, for those of you finding this on Google and expecting blanket acceptance, that this is not an official statement from the DOH, merely an e-mail response to an inquiry clarifying regulations) from February 2010 below:
"NYS regulated hospitals and medical facilities may, at the request of a patient or patient's representative, return a healthy placenta for disposition by the patient without violating any NYS public health law or regulation.
NYS does have regulations (10 NYCRR section 405.24(d)), requiring hospitals to implement waste management programs in compliance with the Public Health Law Article 13, Title XIII for regulated medical waste. Regulated medical waste is defined in the Environmental Conservation Law section 27-1502(2)(b) as waste generated in the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings and includes "human pathological wastes, including tissues, organs, body parts and body fluids that are removed during surgery." However, waste material is material which is being discarded. If a placenta is not discarded but rather used for medical/religious/cultural purposes, then it is not classified as waste. There is no provision in statute or regulation expressly prohibiting the return of a healthy body part to a living patient."
Mothers residing in and/or delivering in NJ, PA & CT are subject to their own state regulations and hospital policies. According to representatives of each State, NJ, PA & CT have no laws or regulations pertaining to the release of healthy placentas to healthy mothers and placenta release is at the discretion of each hospital and care provider. Hawaii and Oregon are the only states with a law requiring placentas be released to mothers. Hawaii has a State Department of Health form for release and have had public policy set in place to facilitate the process properly since April of 2006. The Oregon law went into effect in 2014.
In 2007, in Nevada, the courts ruled in the case of Swanson vs. Sunrise Hospital that the placenta was the property of the mother. The ruling stated that the hospital had to release the placenta to the mother and also that the hospital had to establish a protocol and procedure allowing for the release of healthy placentas to healthy mothers.
Can you tell me a little about the supplies you
use and how they are stored and sterilized?
The supplies used in the dehydration and encapsulation process are all stainless steel and food-grade plastic. They are thoroughly washed with antibacterial soap and hot water & sanitized with bleach solution and hospital-grade cleaners. The stainless steel tools are also heat sanitized. They are stored between use in a sealed container to keep them clean and fresh. We also sanitize each piece before use. HVPS follows the same guidelines for cleanliness and sanitation that are used in food service establishments. We have completed an International OSHA approved Bloodborne Pathogen course created specifically for Placenta Encapsulators in accordance with OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 29 CFR 1090.1030 and adhere to strict APPA standards for professional placenta preparation.
Do I need to provide anything for this process?
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I've read online that there
are different processes to encapsulate - do you prepare them in
different ways? Which is the most effective in your experience?
We offer the Traditional Steam Method and Raw Method. They are both said to be effective by the mothers who have utilized them. The Traditional Method has been used for centuries and involves lightly steaming the placenta with herbs prior to dehydration. Moms taking these pills report a "slow and steady" building of energy and have great results. We prefer the Traditional Method however some moms following a raw food, vegan or vegetarian diet sometimes prefer the Raw Dehydration Method based on their beliefs. The Raw Dehydration Method is thought to retain more vitamins and helpful enzymes and moms who take them say they experience a high burst of energy based on the principles of the Raw Foods Diet, which don't necessarily translate to meat products such as dehydrated placenta. Some research suggests the cooking food, such as meat products, makes the nutrients that are present more bio-available, which would in turn mean that the Traditional Method is of better use nutritionally.
How long will the pills be "good" for?
Are there other uses for dehydrated placenta?
Additional pills may be saved for use in potentially life-saving herbal formulas prepared by trained Chinese Herbalists. According to my local Chinese Herbalist, placenta is very potent and can be a, "key ingredient in herbal formulas for adult patients and their children to help with certain types of chronic fatigue, cancer and rehabilitation post treatment, asthma, renal failure, heart disease, basically anything life threatening." In addition to saving your encapsulated placenta for menopause, you can save it for your Chinese herbalist to use in such a case. As long as they are properly stored and frozen, they should last.
What type of training did you go through?
I am ServSafe certified in the state of New York in contamination prevention and sanitation. I am trained and certified by The Association of Placenta Preparation Arts and I have completed International OSHA compliant Blood-Born Pathogens training especially for Placenta Encapsulation Specialists in accordance with OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 29 CFR 1090.1030 and adhere to strict APPA standards for professional placenta preparation. As a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, I am highly qualified to work with foods of all types although Placenta did not enter my repertoire until 2009 when I learned more about encapsulation from an Albuquerque midwife who authored a book on the benefits of placenta encapsulation. Additionally, I learned from other Placenta Service Providers around the country and internationally who have been preparing placentas for years. I follow the strictest OSHA, EPA and APPA guidelines for cleanliness, sterilization and contamination prevention when working with human blood/organ tissue. HVPS works with one client at a time so there is never any risk of mix-ups or cross-contamination. We have prepared many placentas and trained many birth professionals in safe and competent preparation of the placenta through the HVPS- authored training manual and hands-on training course and co-authoring APPA standards & training modules for placenta professionals.
Can I process my own placenta?
We do not recommend processing your own placenta. It is most beneficial as soon after the birth as possible, when you should be resting and not working. Another reason is that it does take skill and knowledge to safely and appropriately prepare a placenta. If there is a professional trained in Placenta Encapsulation in your area, we would recommend using them before considering doing it yourself. If cost is a prohibiting factor, most professionals are willing to work with you because your well being is important to us. Many providers also accept trades and bartering. If you cannot find a local Placenta Services Provider, you can do your own research and make your own decisions. Click the DIY link for more information. Sometimes the cost of purchasing all the supplies you would need to do this appropriately can cost just as much as hiring someone.
Where can I be trained as a Placenta Service Provider?
HVPS has trained midwives, doulas and moms in placenta encapsulation. We no longer offer a stand alone training through HVPS. We now teach a Hands-On Placenta Encapsulation for Birth Professionals Workshop throughout the continental US following the completion of the online APPA training modules. The training includes hours of hands-on work involving actual placenta preparations, an illustrated training book on the various methods, options, regulations and research that you need to be a competent provider of Placenta Services in your area. If you currently have clients due who are interested in this service or you are interested in providing this service in the future, please contact The Association of Placenta Preparation Arts to sign up for professional training. Women everywhere should have access to safe, competent providers.