Musings of a crunchy, domestic goddess

Just another mama musing about her kids, Attachment Parenting, activism, photography, and life in general

Free the placenta! May 14, 2007

Ann Swanson, a Hynobirthing Childbirth Educator, recently gave birth to her second child, a daughter, at Sunrise Hospital in Nevada. Knowing that she developed postpartum depression after the birth of her first child, she wanted to combat it this time around by having her placenta dried, ground into a powder and encapsulated for ingestion – a practice known as placentophagy. However, the hospital would not release her placenta – the life-giving organ that provided nutrients to her baby in utero – citing health reasons, though Ann has neither HIV nor Hepatitis. The hospital stated that the only way she may be granted access to the placenta was to obtain a court order. She said, “it was never my intent to file a lawsuit, but I have definitely been pushed into doing just that.”

Unable to find an attorney to take on her case pro bono, Ann is representing herself, which means she is responsible for all legal filings and costs. She had an injunction today and is starting a campaign to pass legislation that makes it illegal for hospitals to refuse women the rights to their placenta (provided it is determined to be non-infectious).

Because all of these things will take money, donations are needed. A PayPal fund has been established to take the donations : – Go to, select the “Send Money” tab and then fill out the “Send Money” form on the right hand side of the screen. Any amount, even if it’s only $1 or $5, will help offset her fees. If more money is received than needed to cover the injunction, the excess will be used for other legal placenta issues and passing legislation.

Ann said, “If the issue was just *my* daughter’s placenta, I would drop the issue. However, the issue is much larger and it affects all women.”

Read more about Ann’s story in an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal – Making pills from placentas, and a follow-up story – SUNRISE HOSPITAL: Placenta befouled, mom told. Because the hospital has now said the placenta is contaminated, Ann no longer has plans to ingest it, but does still want the organ “for the principle of the thing” so that she can plant it. You can also follow Ann’s story and another woman who also was denied her placenta at a different hospital in NV, by reading Diva/Mama‘s blog.

Sign the petition to the medical establishment to Release Placentas to Mothers. (For anyone to sign):
Petition to release placentas to mothers

Sign the petition for the Nevada legislature, and should only be signed by residents of Nevada. This one will be used to create a state law giving mothers the right to take their placenta from the hospital.
Create NV state law

Are you wondering why is this so important?

Eating the placenta is known as placentophagy. It is practiced by most mammals in the animal world, including many primates. This excludes the majority of humans.

However, there are some that proport that eating the human placenta can help with ailments from postpartum depression to postpartum hemorrhage. There are some midwives and doctors who use the placenta medicinally in the early stages of postpartum because it is high in progesterone and has small amount of oxytocin. This supposedly helps stem bleeding after birth and causes the uterus to clean itself out. Some forms of Chinese medicines also contain parts of human placenta. — From

For the record, I haven’t mentioned it here before, but yes, after my home birth I had my midwife dry, power and encapsulate my placenta (she calls it “placental medicine”), which I took for a few weeks following Julian’s birth. (I would never have eaten it raw or cooked – I’m too squeamish, but when it was in the capsules, it wasn’t a big deal to me.) I do feel that it had a very positive effect on my emotional well-being and my healing from the birth. I am saving the remaining pills for either Julian when he gets older and goes through a major life transition or for myself for menopause. The placenta is such an amazing organ, why throw it away when it has so many health benefits?


8 Responses to “Free the placenta!”

  1. heather Says:

    OH WOW Amy that is the most interesting thing. I have never heard of that. I was wondering what happened to yours after you gave birth. As for the story…I think she should be able to take it. It belongs to her.

    Thanks for sharing…it is very interesting.

  2. Erica Says:

    That’s so crazy that they wouldn’t let her just have it. They let you have your gallstones, don’t they? How are gallstones less *hazardous* than the placenta? My parents buried my youngest sister’s placenta in the garden – a tradition where my father grew up in germany. She was born at home.

  3. mb Says:

    Thanks for putting this out there. it’s unbelievable that hospitals won’t release it.

    i never did eat any of my placentas, though they both are still in my freezer…Mia’s made it from L.A. to Phoenix for that move! And they both will have to survive the move from here to Washington when we make that move soon. We wanted to save them so we could plant them in a place where we will be settled for a while…and so the girls can take part in it. But, if I do have another baby, I will definitely do what you did–drying and taking them. I can only imagine how healthy it is for your emotional and physical healing. I just love that you are going to save some for Julian in his times of transition; can you explain further…like when? I think that is so amazing.


  4. lara Says:

    interesting info.
    I just had a home birth. I found that the midwives left the placenta in my freezer. I was just surfing the net to see what people do with them.

    best of luck

  5. Diva/Mama Says:

    Thanks for adding your support to the cause, Goddess! I’m publishing updates on my blog as they happen. We’re still going strong, trying to get hospitals to “feel comfortable” releasing placentas to the mamas. It’s ridiculous that they think they have a right to ownership of something that we give birth too. Happy to find another placentophagy supporter as well. We have to spread the word, to let mamas everywhere know about the power of placenta! 🙂

    Jodi Selander, Diva/Mama

  6. jenny Says:

    That is crazy! An example of the medical profession exerting it’s control over women in our society. I think that it belongs to her just as the baby belongs to her… I have heard about the eating of the placenta to help stem bleeding and preventing Post Partum Haemorrhage. Its great to know that it can also be used to help with post natal depression.

    I come from New Zealand and women have the option of whether they want to keep the placenta or not. This came about because the Placenta is a sacred object for Maori and other cultures that live in New Zealand. The placenta is usually buried, thus returning to mother earth.

  7. Josh Says:

    What can I do in my state to get hospitals to let mothers have their placentas? I’m from Pennsylvania. my email address is and i’m going to spell it out in case anyone wants to email me directly.
    there will be spaces between every letter and such and all punctuation will be spelled out including numbers. it’s all lower case.
    j k e n n three three seven at g m a i l dot c o m

    so send me mail and let me know what I can do in my own state of Pennsylvania. My wife and I are both blind. We had a problem with child services trying to take our baby due to the fact we are blind. But thankfully the National Federation of the Blind stepped in and helped put a stop to that.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s