New Pregnancy Fear: Who's Got Your Placenta Now?

delivery roomAs if pregnant women didn't have enough to freak out about when they're wheeled into the hospital to deliver their baby. Now a bunch of nursing students in hot water for posting photos of patients' placentas on Facebook have us all wondering: is there any part of the birthing process that isn't humiliating?

First we have to put on one of those awful hospital gowns, and throw open our legs for anyone who wants to play guess the centimeters. Then we get tubes stuck up our hoo hoo to get out our urine. And then there's the pushing -- with requisite pooping oneself -- while your aunt hovers with a camera focused on your vag. Now the nursing students of Johnson County Community College want to freak us out more?


Apparently the students asked their instructor if they could take photos of the woman's placenta and post them on Facebook, and she thought they were kidding. So she didn't say no. She said, "You girls." To which the morons future nurses said, "Yup, that's us, little girls" and posted them anyway. When the instructor saw them, they were yanked, and the "girls" were kicked out of college.

Now one of them, Doyle Barnes, is suing to get back into school and claiming that this was simply her way of sharing her "educational" experience with her Facebook friends. The photos, her lawsuit says, were not "disrespectful of the organ."

Interestingly, the Kansas City Star article about the lawsuit says nothing of the woman who birthed said organ -- save for the fact that she isn't in the pictures, so her placenta is not identifiable. But as a mother, I have always had mixed feelings about the placenta.

I'm not so "respectful" that I'll join up with the crowd who munches it postpartum. And I had zero interest in taking it home to plant in the backyard. It was not as valuable to me as my child, and once it was out, I was done with it.

But it was my placenta. It sustained my daughter for nine months, then it came out of my body. I had an expectation that it would go from my womb straight into medical waste, with no stops for monkey business along the way. To think of my placenta being played with, photographed, and used as evidence of the oddity of one's educational experience is jarring at best, humiliating at worst.

Facebook is where we share photos of our drunken night out with the girls, the time our toddler got hold of a marker and drew on their own body, the dog caught eating out of the garbage can. By its very purpose, it's a place to be social and share photos that make us grin.

But my placenta isn't there to make someone else laugh. It's not a goofy little bit of waste. It's the nutrient rich bag of cells that kept my kid alive. It's the very essence of the "miracle" of the human body. For someone to succeed in the health care field, they need to respect not just the people they care for but every bit of the human body.

Would this leave you feeling violated?


Image via norfolkdistrict/Flickr

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