My Lotus Birth Article

I’m on a bit of a roll here, so I thought I’d strike while the iron is hot!

Some of you may already know that I wrote an article for The Green Parent Magazine, called Lotus Born.

It was about my first experience with Lotus Birthing my daughter Ofelia.

The printed article was somewhat edited down, so I thought I would post up the un-edited version for those of you who are interested in a little further insight.

I will post a link to The Green Parent version when it becomes available online.

Lotus Birth
For some parents-to-be the actual ‘giving birth bit’, referred to routinely by the somewhat negative moniker ‘labour’, is something to dread and merely a means to an end.  This being the case, they plan to go to the hospital and let the ‘experts’ get on with getting their baby safely from the womb and into their arms.
More often than not, the many detailed choices that are available to parents at this anxious time are overshadowed by fear, and self-preservation insists that ignorance is bliss.
Solicitous Mums try not to think about the minutiae of whatever this horrendous experience may hold, leaving them vulnerable to regrets and potentially missing out on a wonderful bonding opportunity that could benefit, not just the new baby, but the entire family.
In a hospital environment it is easy to get swept along with the mentality that ‘Doctor knows best’, so it is vital that parents consider their options before the medical staff revert to their default, of what can be, unnecessarily intrusive procedures.
The fear surrounding the birthing process continues even after the intensity has subsided and the baby is received without harm.  The birthing of the placenta is rushed along with a Syntometrine injection and hurriedly disposed of – in order, it seems, to tidy away the messiness of this ‘inefficient’ biological process.
Rather than happily suckling at his Mother’s breast after the transition from his watery world, the baby is thoughtlessly severed from the organ that has grown with him since conception and that has provided for him since he came into being.
But it does not have to be this way.  We can honour the beauty of our bodies and our babies by excogitating an alternative.
A complete Lotus birth is the practice of leaving the umbilical cord unclamped and unsevered until it dries and naturally detaches from the umbilicus.  Generally this happens at around day three or four post partum, several days before the clamped cord stump would ordinarily fall off.
However, the varying degrees of the process each hold significant benefits that should not be under valued.  For example, you could choose to wait at least until the placenta is birthed, or even better, until the cord has stopped pulsating.  The pulsating cord is nature’s way of offering your newborn access the full amount of oxygen and health giving transfused blood that your body has provided the energy to be stored within the placenta.  It also means that the baby stays close to the Mother, to maximise skin to skin contact for bonding and breast milk production.
It could be said that this gradual welcoming to the world enables the child to feel more in control and fosters independence and trust at this early stage in life.
I felt an instinctive desire to find some kind of use for the placenta so initially I considered cooking and eating it and researched the many benefits of this practice.
However, I realised that immediately after giving birth I would probably not be in the right frame of mind to wield utensils and whip up a storm in the kitchen!  My husband, however eager to support my decision, is not the most skilled chef so that idea was shelved.
When I came across the idea of Lotus Birthing I again embarked upon a reconnaissance mission to discover the pros and cons.  In the end I concluded that, for me, the practical implications outweighed the additional benefits and it would be sufficient just to allow the cord to stop pulsating before tying it with a thread woven of colours of magickal significance instead of the cumbersome, cold, hard plastic clip.
I was fortunate enough to have been sent just the right Doula at just the right time, who happened to have another like-minded client.  I thought her very brave when she decided to go ahead with the lotus birth and tentatively enquired.
When she told me that two hours after the cord had stopped pulsating the baby cried when the cord was compressed – I was sold.
It was the emphasis of the ongoing relationship between the baby and the placenta, even long after we assume it has ceased, that reignited my interest in the subject.
Even if you feel that full Lotus birthing is not for you, it is interesting to consider the reverence offered to the cord and placenta by other cultures.  Some cultures believe that cutting a baby’s cord within their auric field may cause it damage, so they insist on leaving at least six or seven inches length from the body.
Balinese Hindu Dharma people understand that the ‘Ari-Ari’ (Placenta) is the physical embodiment of each child’s guardian angel.
At the onset of the birthing process the Mother’s Hypothalamus stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete Oxytocin, the hormone of love.  Oxytocin causes surges within the uterus but also reduces the effects of stress, enhances a sense of calm and encourages bonding with the precious gift that her body has worked so hard to nurture.
The hormonal feedback loop between Mother, placenta and baby has been scientifically recognised.  Once the baby has emerged, his pituitary gland sends a message to the placenta to confirm his safe arrival.  On receiving this message, the placenta realises that it’s purpose has been served and it prepares to loosen to join the baby in the outside world.
The Mother’s brain then releases a secondary charge of Oxytocin to stimulate further contractions to help the placenta be expelled.  It could be said that this is an offering from the Mother to acknowledge the power of this magnificent organ and its life-giving services.
Leaving the infant attached to the placenta after it has been delivered allows this additional Oxytocin to be transferred to the baby, giving a calming influence to gently welcome him to the world.
So the decision was made and I was excited, but also a little nervous!  I started looking into discussions regarding the care of the placenta and wasn’t exactly sure how I felt about it.  The general consensus was that the placenta should be drained in a sieve, washed, then packed with salt and herbs or oils to assist the drying process and minimise any odour.  Then wrapped in a pre-fold nappy or a special bag which can be bought or handmade during pregnancy.
Some parents chose not to treat the placenta at all and the only complaint was that the smell became noticeable, but not necessarily wholly unpleasant.
Although there were many subtle variations, such as using a plastic bowl or ice cream container to float the placenta in the water if mother and baby wished to remain there or for bathing.  The personal ingenuity of each family gives testament to how Lotus Birthing can work for anyone with the faith to carry it out.
Part of the allure was empowering myself to reclaim my birthing experience, and knowing that no harm could come to my child in doing so, allowed me to trust in nature.
I did not wish to rush and felt that the process should be slow and gentle.  I therefore chose only to drain the placenta initially for a couple of hours then rinse the placenta once daily in a saltwater solution with a few drops of lavender oil.  This worked perfectly for us and odour was never a problem, (Our two cats and a dog weren’t the slightest bit interested) although for a more fastidious type of person I would recommend a twice daily bath.
After going through such a tremendously physical process it is healthy and beneficial to allow both Mother and Baby time to rest and ground themselves.
Thankfully my husband and Mother-in-Law were massively supportive, so while I was waiting for my spirit to reconnect with my body after our baby emerged, they carried out my wishes using a simple muslin tied around the placenta which was wrapped in a washable nappy after draining.
Lotus Birthing helps encourage a time of ‘babymooning’, where the family rest and drink in those early moments which are gone all too soon.
The list of benefits for both mother and baby with this natural approach to the third stage are almost endless; to name but a few –
  • resting promotes milk supply.
  • decreased interference with third stage hormonal systems (oxytocin, endorphins) which are linked to bonding, mental health and to natural means of preventing haemorrhage.
  • baby is allowed to self-regulate full ‘placental transfusion’ with optimal blood volumes and oxygen.
  • maintaining a ‘life-line’ if breathing is delayed minimises the risk of damage from lack of oxygen, inadequate tissue and organ perfusion in the time after birth which can lead to possible long-term organ damage and subtle brain injury.
  • decreased likelihood of anaemia.
  • provision of stem cells contained in the placental/cord  blood.
  • reduced need for resuscitation.
When considering your options it is important to remember that Lotus birth is not as final as the conventional method of dealing with the placenta.  Once the cord has been cut, the decision has been made and cannot be reversed.  However, when leaving the cord intact, you can reassess at any time and if you feel that the choice isn’t suitable for you and your baby, the cord can be cut and you’ve lost nothing.  All you will have done is given your baby a little more time to adjust to the world before separating him from his ‘little brother or sister’ as it is sometimes affectionately known.
When my daughter Ofelia felt ready to release her placenta it felt like she had met her first milestone.  She’d had a slow start where she didn’t nurse for two days and it was really very touching that she felt safe and ready for us to provide her care.
Ofelia is almost three now and she is a confident, communicative, loving, gentle soul.  As a baby she was calm, contented and I really feel that she felt listened to.  I am having my second daughter at the end of the year and my husband and I are absolutely sure we will have a gentle Lotus birth again.  My husband is no hippy, he’s not into half of the ‘airy-fairy’ things I am, but he sees the intrinsic sense that this process makes and the profound impact that our choices have had on all of us as a family.
Since the article was written I have had another wonderful home HypnoBirth with my second beautiful daughter Aria Dulcie.  We again undertook the Lotus Birthing process which I will Blog about at a later date…..as I am tired now….!
May your pregnancies, births and family lives be blessed.

 

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