Court oks mom’s bid to bring placenta home

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FLOWOOD – When Jordan Thiering brings her baby son home from River Oaks Hospital in June, she’ll bring home something else: her placenta.

The delivery required a court order.

“Some people may say I’m crazy or don’t know what I’m doing,” the slender 25-year-old said, her fingers entwined beneath her enlarged belly. “But it’s about what I think is best for me and my baby. It’s part of my body and my right.”

The placenta is that blood-rich organ between mom and baby, which allows oxygen and nutrition exchange while the baby grows inside her.

Thiering, a Wisconsin native, joins a growing number of women across the U.S. who choose to keep their placentas for various purposes, including drying and processing into a powder to be swallowed in a gelatin capsule.

Some women believe the discarded tissue retains nutritional or hormonal value, which may ease post-partum depression, nausea, fatigue, discomfort with returning menstrual cycles or improve breast milk production.

Besides consuming the dehydrated tissue in a capsule, some women ingest it as food, such as in spaghetti sauce, place it in the hole when planting a commemorative tree or even impress it against art paper for a permanent image of its shape.

Some celebrities have embraced placenta consumption, such as January Jones from Mad Men who talked publicly about her placenta encapsulation and former Real Housewife Kim Zolciak, who drank a placenta smoothie in an episode of her spin-off reality show.

In Mississippi, Thiering had to gain legal possession of her placenta.

She talked to her physician, Dr. Shea Moses, who suggested contacting the hospital about her wishes.

“They said I’d need a court order,” Thiering said. “It seemed a bit odd, since it’s my placenta.”

But the River Oaks contact explained they must abide by a Mississippi Department of Health directive, which categorized placentas as biological waste.

Jacqueline Hammack, a 33-year-old Rankin County attorney and mother to an active 16-month-old named Morris, had met Thiering and other moms or moms-to-be on a Facebook site about birthing and breastfeeding issues.

“Jacqui said she would help,” Thiering said.

“I felt like, if this is the requirement, she needed some assistance,” Hammack recalled as they talked about the personal and legal journey in Thiering’s Flowood home near Ross Barnett Reservoir. “When it comes to court, you always fare better with representation.”

Seeking a court order for a placenta was something new for Hammack, although the novelty did not dissuade her.

Hammack said she briefed the Rankin County Chancery Court about the issue, and on May 17 she and Thiering went to court before Chancellor John McLaurin Jr.

“It was quick and painless – Jacqui did all the work,” Thiering recalled. “Judge McLaurin didn’t seem to have any issues with it, just as long as River Oaks didn’t.”

River Oaks’ attorney Katie Gilchrist was there too, to ensure her client was protected in the matter.

“You know, River Oaks just wants to do the right thing and meet Department of Health guidelines,” she said, noting this was her first time in court about a placenta.

Thiering and Hammack assured McLaurin that the release of the tissue posed no danger to the public because the public would not come into contact with it, Gilchrist noted.

“I’m sure that made a difference to the judge to give his approval,” she said.

Liz Sharlot, communications director for the State Department of Health, said a court order assures the public “that you’re going to properly dispose of the waste – then it’s up to the hospital” to decide how to handle individual requests.

And so, armed with her Rankin County court order, Thiering and her husband Doug, a U.S. Air Force aircraft mechanic with the 172nd Airlift Wing, prepare for their lives to change.

While consuming the dehydrated placenta may not have scientifically proven benefits, Thiering says it’s her right to have it and use it in whatever way she believes will benefit her.

She says her husband’s on board too.

“If this helps me, it helps him too,” she said with a laugh.

For anyone else who wants to bring their placenta home, the rules vary from state to state.

She and Hammack advise any other women with similar interests to check with their doctors and hospitals about relevant regulations.

“I like to think I’ve paved the way to make it easier for other mothers who want to do this,” Thiering said.