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Lotus Birth + Pictures

A Lotus Birth?   One of our New Zealand mums writes about her experience of having a lotus birth with her baby.

First of all you will probably ask - what is a lotus birth?    A lotus birth is where the placenta is left attached to the baby after birth -  the umbilical cord is not cut. The cord eventually dries and falls of on its own.

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Above picture shows baby with placenta wrapped in the neighbouring basket.  Black ribbon was being wrapped around the umbilical cord - which will dry and fall off at tummy button naturally.

I came across the concept while reading up on natural parenting when pregnant with my fourth baby. After a highly intervened first birth in hospital, I had taken our following births more and more naturally. Trusting your body and Mother Nature to have a baby just has to be better for both mum and child.

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.

Internet research showed that babes whose placentas were left intact were calmer. The umbilicus/belly button healed quicker. There was 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?!?).

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!

'm a real attachment mum anyway with co-sleeping, breastfeeding, water birth etc. 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, 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!

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

Before my midwife left that day, she placed the umbilical cord clamp on the kitchen table 'in case she changes her mind'. I listened to my support crew all adamantly agree I would have changed my mind by that night!

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.

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Above picture shows the long umbilical cord (which had black ribbon wrapped around it) with the placenta wrapped in a cloth inside a wooden basket.

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.

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.

{  warning slightly more gorey photo coming up }

My midwife was fascinated to see the placenta and cord change. The cord eventually dried up to be clear, showing two little blood vessels inside. It was sooo interesting! It also got quite hard, which made it a little harder for me to get the baby in and out of the hammock while juggling the placenta, but  it was  no big issue.

Was he calmer? He was a very placid baby, and still is. It took exactly 6 days to detach, although 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!!  We have now placed the placenta in the freezer ready to be buried under a native tree, just like the siblings beforehand.

lotus2This photo shows the day the placenta dettached. The ribbon has come off because the cord had dried and therefore shrunk quite considerably  and the placenta itself has shrunk hugely as it dried.
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