The Calm of a Lotus Birth

Lotus birth struck me for two reasons – it is supposed to create a more calming after-birth environment (think less guests, less moving around and alot more resting!) and is supposed to be better for baby (a calmer baby, baby gets all their blood, the stump heals quicker).

And so, after a little research and talking to my midwife, I chose to lotus birth for my fourth baby!

And what, pray tell, is a lotus birth, I hear you ask?

Lotus birth is where the placenta is birthed in the third stage of labour, and left attached to the baby – i.e the umbilical cord is not cut. It eventually dries and falls of on its own.

The benefits are huge. In short, lotus birth slows the whole birth and recovery process down, which has to be calming for mum and child. Baby will recieve all the blood that is in the placenta/cord. In a spiritual sense, there is an obvious link between the world of pregnancy and that of our physical world. This transition ensures quiet, and peace, and rest.

There is less stress on the baby (i.e being passed from great-aunt to grandparent and back again!) and they were in a calm environment  because you take time to be at home (you’re hardly going to lug the babe and placenta to the supermarket, are you?!?).

I enjoyed reading on www.lotusfertility.com this: “Lotus Birth slows things down.  This is most desirable.  The time after a birth is to 
be savoured.  It is like the time after making love, after the climax, a time of 
intimacy and integration.  A mother who has just birthed her baby, after nine 
months of pregnancy, benefits greatly from quiet and rest.  The birth experience 
requires integration.” (http://www.lotusfertility.com/Lotus_Birth.html).

Isnt that so true, how birth is likened to sex. Indeed, many a person has linked between the cramps of mensturation, the cramps of orgasm, the cramps of labour, and those aftercramps post-birth. That sex is a very private and intimate act between two people and birth should also be very private and intimate (read no bright lights and no strangers LOL).

As Sarah Buckley writes, “Lotus birth, the subject of this book, gives us a further chance to ‘slow the fire drill’ after birth, as Canadian birth attendant Gloria Lemay puts it, and allows our babies the full metaphysical, as well as physical, benefit of prolonged contact with the placenta. Lotus birth, like a good midwife, also secludes mother and baby in the early hours and days, ensuring rest and keeping visitors to a minimum.” (http://www.sarahbuckley.com/leaving-well-alone-a-natural-approach-to-the-third-stage-of-labour).

And so….. based on this, I set out to prepare for a lotus birth!

Trusting your body and Mother Nature to have a baby just has to be better for both mum and child, doesnt it?

(And note, I am all for hospitals and obstetricians and everything. Without modern medicine, we would lose alot of mums and babies, without a doubt. But I feel strongly that the majority of births can be done naturally and should not be medically intervened.)

After a beautiful waterbirth at home with baby 3, I was keen to repeat this. Unfortunately I was suffering with horrific antenatal depression and this was preventing me from enjoying my pregnancy. I was terrified that I would not bond with the baby. When I stumbled across Lotus Birth, it seemed to fit ‘right’ and I truly believed it might help. This is all seemed to fit with what I wanted. I was keen to keep the baby to myself, I naturally dislike passing my new baby to anyone else and I also didn’t want an endless stream of visitors. I knew the ‘ick’ factor of the placenta would keep people away! I really felt like the Lotus Birth would help me get over the antenatal depression.

So I talked to my midwife, who hadn’t done it but knew about it. She was happy to support it. I gathered a natural wood basket with a calico liner, a muslin wrap, some long thick ribbon, and chucked the vege strainer into my birthing kit!

After our baby was born, the placenta was scooped up with the strainer and left to drain while we got out of the pool. It was then placed onto a cloth square and liberally salted. Literally, because the midwife in attendance had also never done it and none of us knew how much salt to use. So she put on at least a cup!! She also sprinkled over lots of dried rosemary, which is supposed to help with the drying process and keep the placenta cool. It was the middle of summer so we didn’t want it cooking or decomposing!

Lotus Birth, wrapping ribbon around the cord

The placenta was then wrapped in the cloth and placed into the basket.

After the birth, as my midwife was preparing to leave, she placed the umbilical cord clamp on the kitchen table. I heard her say, ‘in case she changes her mind’ to my support crew, who all adamantly agree I would have changed my mind by that night!

Ha! I am horrifically stubborn, even more so when you tell me what I will/will not do!!!
Later that day I used the ribbon to cover the  long umblicial cord by wrapping it around it. The cord was cold and it felt horrid when I brushed against it, so I was pleased to have it covered. I had chosen a black ribbon because I thought it would hide the blood, but there was no blood and I would use white next time.

I was determined to spend a few days in bed resting. Each side I swapped for feeding, I would carefully place the basket containing the placenta to the other side of me. It wasn’t a problem. I dressed and wrapped my baby with no problems. When I finally did get up, I placed the basket on Babe’s tummy while I carried him to the lounge.

A very peaceful baby, 'between worlds' and still attached to the cord.

Each day (or two, if I was tired!) I unwrapped the placenta, placed it on a clean cloth, resalted it, and then wrapped it again. Each soiled cloth I just chucked in the wash with everything else. The smell of birth hung around for a few days but by no means was it smelly or anything offensive. And this was the middle of summer! The rosemary was quite pleasant too.

My midwife was fascinated to see the placenta and cord change, and so was I! The cord eventually dried up to be clear, showing two little blood vessels inside. It was sooo interesting! It also got quite hard and stiff, which made it a little harder for me to get the baby in and out of his bed – I was using a hammcok which was quite high. But it was no big issues, I just had to take a couple of extra moments of care 🙂

Was he calmer? He was a very placid baby, and still is.

On the 6th day after his birth, the cord detached from his naval, exactly the same time he was born!
It did it the same way as if the cord has been clamped.
This is called, ‘lotus born’ – and I think that sounds very sweet!

I think it would have been sooner if I had let it air more, I was just so worried about him getting cold that I was scared to leave his tummy uncovered!! 

The dried placenta, which was quite firm, did not smell. The dried umbilical cord, which was clear and you could see two blood veins in it!

And so, the placenta was placed into the freezer to be buried at a later date, the baby was bundled up and later had his first immersion bath, the mama celebrated surviving the first week and you know what, I loved this baby wholly. Whether it was the lotus birth, or something else, I held that child close to me and you cant imagine the relief I felt that the depression and its associated feelings had gone.

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