|You would like to take your placenta home to bury it. |
In most cases it is fine to take your placenta home as long as you can follow the basic health precautions which are explained below.
Sometimes following a birth the placenta will need to go to pathology for further examination. This may mean that it won’t be possible to take your placenta home or that you can take it home but will need to collect it after the examination is complete. Whether you can take it home or not is dependent on the kind of examination that is required.
Your midwife or doctor should be able to give you information about your particular circumstances.
Health and safety
|This information is intended to guide you through what you must do if you are taking your placenta home to be buried. |
There are some standard precautions you should be aware of for your health and safety and that of others in your household. It is also important that your placenta is buried in accordance with laws designed to protect public health.
A placenta provides a perfect environment of micro-organisms to grow. These may be a threat to the health of human beings. In order to lessen this risk of infection you need to take the following steps:
|If no pathology examination is required the placenta will need to be double wrapped in yellow plastic clinical waste bags (provided by the Women’s) and placed in a leak-proof, sealed container to transport. You will need to bring the container with you to the birth. Once sealed in the container, the placenta should not be re-opened on hospital premises.|
|It is a criminal offence to bury ‘bodily remains’ anywhere, other than in a public cemetery, unless the Secretary of the Department of Human Services has granted approval. However, a placenta is not considered ‘bodily remains’ in law and there appears to be no law to prevent you from burying your placenta at home. |
Human tissue must however be incinerated at a high temperature or buried at a significant depth and not placed in domestic or council waste bins. It is your responsibility to ask your local council if there are any applicable guidelines in your municipality and to follow them.
|As the placenta will rapidly deteriorate it needs to be taken home as soon as possible after the birth and stored in a cool place. It should be stored in a refrigerator that does not contain any food and for no more than 48-72 hours before burial. |
Another alternative is to keep the placenta in its container, on ice and in an esky, for no more than 48 hours prior to burial. The esky will require a thorough clean after use.
|While the risk of getting an infection from a healthy placenta is not high, standard hygiene precautions should always be followed. To reduce the possible transfer of organisms, cuts and abrasions should be covered when handling the placenta. Protective gloves should also be used and hands well washed after handling or burial of the placenta. Keep handling to a minimum to avoid exposure to organisms. Avoid eating or smoking around the placenta.|
|The placenta will need to be buried at a sufficient depth (no less than one metre deep) to prevent it being scavenged by animals and becoming a potential source of infection to humans.|
|We will ask you to sign the Release of Placenta for Personal Burial form to indicate that you understand the public health issues associated with your request. If your placenta is with pathology we will need your contact information to let you know when you can collect it if that is possible. The Pathology department will contact you once the examination is complete and you can then make arrangements for it’s collection.|
For more information
To find your local council
|Visit the Local Government Victoria website at:|
For information about your health
|Women’s Health Information Centre |
|Royal Women's Hospital|
Ground floor foyer
Cnr Grattan Street & Flemington Road
Tel: (03) 8345 3045
For medical emergencies
|Women’s Emergency Care |
|Royal Women's Hospital|
Flemington Road entrance
Tel: (03) 8345 3636
|Or attend your local emergency department at your local hospital|
For information about your baby’s health
|Maternal and Child Health Line |
|24 hour telephone and information service - 132 229|
|The Royal Women’s Hospital does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) which is provided in this fact sheet or incorporated into it by reference. We provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health care provider or if you require urgent care you should go to the nearest Emergency Dept.|
|Published Dec 2008|