At-Home Birth and Medical Waste

A home birth begets a crash course in DIY medical waste disposal. Here’s what you need to know.

At-home births are becoming more popular amongst families for ease, comfort, and a familiar surrounding. Of course, with home births comes waste that is not exactly safe for regular household trash. Home birth professionals can help the families they serve by offering a checklist of items to ensure a smooth delivery and that any and all waste is disposed of in accordance with local laws.  Here’s where to start.

Local Laws

While there are many medical waste laws that are governed on the federal level, there are several that vary by state, so you must become familiar with your state-level and town-level medical waste laws. In some states, there must be an attending physician or midwife that is licensed in order to properly dispose of any medical waste generated at an at-home birth. If they are unable to dispose of the waste, you may have to contact a waste disposal team to dispose of the waste for you.

Types of Medical Waste During At-home Birth

Birthing at home doesn’t come with the same instruments, sharps, IVs, and other medical equipment as a hospital birthing center, so there is less likely to be as much medical waste during a home birth. Soiled linens are the most common form of medical waste during an at-home birth, as these are used to cover furniture, wipe up bodily fluids, and clean up mother and baby. This type of waste is treated as any other law that stipulates soiled linens; even though soiled linens are not considered medical waste by definition, appropriate steps must be taken to handle linens that are soiled with blood and blood products.

Best practices include providing necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to prevent skin and mucous membrane exposure to blood and body substances. Used linens should be bagged at the point of origin and placed into an appropriate laundry receptacle.

Sharps waste is less likely to be produced during a home birth, however if sharps are used, they must be disposed of in accordance with local laws for at-home sharps waste.

Medical Waste Companies Can Help

Dealing with medical waste is a challenge that will be much easier if you prepare and plan ahead of time for a home birth. Having the proper equipment for disposal, a disposal plan, and an agreement with a disposal company can make the process quick and easy.

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