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Eating placenta after labor has received a lot of buzz from celebrities who say it has helped them fight postpartum depression and increased their milk production, but a recent case in Mississippi highlights that the practice can be complicated and expensive for some women.

That’s because the placenta – an organ that develops on the wall of the uterus and helps sustain the fetus during pregnancy through nutrient-rich blood – is considered to be medical waste, like most organs or tissue removed during medical procedures. But to women who want to engage in the controversial practice of ingesting the placenta after childbirth, the right to take it home represents an extension of their right to control their own bodies.

The issue was most recently highlighted by a 25-year-old Mississippi woman, Jordan Thiering, who had to obtain a court order to take her placenta home after the hospital at which she is scheduled to give birth bristled at her request. The judge handling the case wanted to confirm that taking the placenta home wouldn’t pose a public health threat.

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Image: danoxster via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

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