Placentas Sent to Pathology


The placenta can provide very useful information about your pregnancy and birth. This is especially useful if you or your baby have had any health problems during pregnancy or fevers during labour. If your doctor or midwife feels that the placenta needs to be examined further they will talk with you about why this is necessary.


Firstly they can not send your placenta for testing without your permission. The only exception to this may be if your baby has died and the coroner or police request it. Remember you can always ask for more information before you make a decision.


Some useful questions include:


  1. Why do you want to test my placenta?

  2. Is it just routine because of my circumstance?

  3. What information do you expect to find?

  4. If you do expect to obtain further information from my placenta, what will you use that information for?

  5. Will the results make a difference to my care plan or my baby's care plan?

  6. Can you just take a swab or small sample of my placenta instead of sending the whole tissue to pathology?


If you still wish to have your placenta prepared for consumption, ask if you can send a piece of the placenta to the pathology for testing instead of the whole tissue. This can prevent the bulk of the placenta from becoming contaminated with the chemicals used in pathology. If you have permission to send a small section, follow the protocol for storage for the remaining part. Ensure the placenta is frozen within 48 hours of the birth until the pathology can confirm with you whether your placenta is free from infection and/or can be consumed.


If your placenta is found to have an infection, it will be unsuitable for you to encapsulate or make other preparations to consume, but you can still honour it in other ways if you wish with prints, cord keepsake, jewellery or a burial ceremony. You will need to contact the pathology and let them know you want to collect your placenta after testing for a burial.


Placentas that are sent to pathology are not suitable for encapsulation. Placentas treated with formalin, formaldehyde, any other preservative or solution, or dissected may not be encapsulated.