I hope I am not the only one who had absolutely no idea what a lotus birth was. It intrigued me which is why I choose to write this article, I am always up for learning about something new as are a lot of other mom’s I am sure. I knew there where many different ways to birth your child. There is vaginal with or without medication, c-section, home or hospital birth and so on. I did not know there was something known as a lotus birth.
In a nutshell, a lotus birth is the practice of leaving the umbilical cord intact after the birth of the baby. This means that the baby remains attached to the cord and the placenta until it naturally dries up and falls off on it’s own. I will go into more details on this form of birth a bit later, but can I please just say; EW! I am sure we will all learn the glowing benefits of having a lotus birth, but I must admit I am having a hard time looking past the image.
I am sure even with the definition of a lotus birth all it did was bring to mind more questions, I know it did for me. Why on earth do they do this? How do they do this? I mean, do they carry the baby in one arm and a bucket with the placenta in another? It is normal to be curious, and to have questions about things we do not understand.
Here I come to the rescue, I have the 15 questions every mom wants to ask about lotus births, and possible the answers to go along with them!
15 So, What Is It Exactly?
Like I briefly stated earlier, a lotus birth is the practise of maintaining the umbilical cord and all that it is attached to, and keeping it connected to the baby until it dries up and falls of naturally. It is based on a practise that very much sees the baby, cord and placenta as a single unit that is not meant to be separated. It is similar to the practise that is more common of just delaying the cord clamping, except that it is never clamped and severed.
When the baby is born, the placenta and cord are kept with the baby, they are gently wrapped in cloth or kept in a bowl next to the mother (ew, sorry) and sometimes the cord is wrapped in silk ribbon. The cord will automatically start to dry up and shrink in diameter within a few hours, but it can take 3 – 7 days for it to fully detach. They say by doing this, the cord will actually fall off much quicker then when the cord is clamped and cut.
14 Why Change Family Traditions?
There are many people who wonder why we want to change family traditions. It has always been tradition that the cord is cut by the father, or possibly another birth witness. It is something that most dad’s look forward to the most. The reason those that are in favour of breaking this family tradition, are those that believe there are many benefits for having a lotus birth.
Parents who have completed a lotus birth as well as caregivers, have stated that babies that were born using this method are more relaxed and peaceful in demeanor. It is also said that the babies who are left with their cord and placenta in place, do not experience that chunk of weight loss most babies go through after birth. They also do not seem to suffer with jaundice as much as others. It is important to note, that there has not been an official study done to show the benefits of a lotus birth, and these observations are strictly by family and hospital staff. I am sure it won’t be long before they start looking into this further.
13 Is It Some Sort Of Yoga Technique?
When you hear the term ‘lotus birth’ you often think it is some way related to yoga or meditation practices. Yoga and meditation are become very popular, so it is normal to think this is in some way related. In some ways it is, the practice itself was ‘dead’ for a while until it was brought back to life by yoga practicing parents who were exploring the idea of a more natural birth in the 1980’s. So, while it may be a relatively new term for a lot of people, it is older than we all realized.
It may be more connected to a spiritual belief that a fully intact human child has the ability to carry a “universe of potential”. This is connected to the lotus flower whose seeds are actually plant embryos and contain everything needed to bloom. There are many similarities between the cord and placenta and the plant of a lotus flower.
12 How? How Do They Do It?
I immediately think of the practicality of the whole practice. How is it done? Well immediately following the birth of a child, the cord is not clamped. When the placenta is delivered, the baby and all that are attached are kept just the way they are. When the placenta comes out, it is kept at the same level as the baby to allow for all the nutrient rich blood and hormones are transferred to the baby.
There is never any rush to do anything with the placenta, they will wrap it in a cloth, or place it in that bowl we talked about earlier. It is left beside the mother during the very important first few hours after birth while she is doing skin-to-skin and bonding with her baby. At some point after, the placenta is placed in a more permanent cloth or bowl, and is covered in powdered herbs such as; lavender, goldenseal, or rosemary. This is to ensure preservation and is completed daily. They will also apply sea salt to help minimize any odor.
11 Doesn’t Everyone Just Cut The Cord?
Sometimes, we get stuck in our own world and culture, and we get into a dangerous way of thinking that what we do is what is just done everywhere. This is never true, birthing practices are different in almost every country with their own culture. There is one culture where they hold the lotus birth to a very high esteem, and that is Bali. Bali is known as a peaceful country, with a very rich and beautiful culture. They still continue to practice the act of delayed cord clamping and lotus birth’s regularly.
The people of Bali believe that when we are born, we are accompanied by four invisible brothers – the placenta, the cord, the amniotic fluid as well as the vernix. They believe that these are our guardians and they are with us to protect us wherever we go. The parents will collect these items as best as they can and will place them in a coconut and bury it in the front of the family home. They would probably think our birth practices are very weird.
10 Is It Unnatural?
Many people are uncomfortable with the topic of childbirth in itself, so when you introduce them to something as ‘odd’ as a lotus birth they may think that it is just very unnatural. They base it off the fact that mammals in the wild give birth and immediately eat their placenta and all the after birth stuff. So, wouldn’t this make it unnatural for us to not just get rid of it right away?
The argument is that not all mammal’s eat their after birth or sever their cord right away. Chimpanzees, which are the closest mammal match to humans, when in their natural habitat, do not sever the cord. This goes for a lot of other monkey’s, they will usually sit with their baby and the placenta after birth for the first day or two. When the placenta falls off, it is left on the floor as a free for all for any other animals who might need a snack.
9 Do The Doctors Like It?
Now, we know doctor’s really don’t have much say in how a woman gives birth, unless there is a medical emergency, or at least they shouldn’t have much say. Still, a lot of women take great consideration to their doctor’s advice and trust in them to know what is right for them and their baby. So, a big question may be: do doctor’s agree with this? The truth is, a lotus birth is not taught regularly in medical school. Some doctor’s may never hear about this form of birth until they encounter a mom who has it on her birth plan.
You are more likely to find this practice among mid-wives then MD doctor’s. Midwives have been practicing the art of delayed cord clamping, and now lotus births, for a while now. The hope is that the more we talk about this, and the more it is coming up on birth plans, that we will see a shift in medical teaching that includes the lotus birth.
8 Is It For Their Own Good?
The big question we all have is if it is really that important to the health of our babies. The health of our babies is the most important thing, so if something is shown to huge benefits, the more likely more mom’s will get on board with this type of birth. By completing a lotus birth, you are ensuring that an average of 100ml of precious red blood cells will transfer to the baby. This can contribute to good brain development for the first year of life.
It is said to aid in the bonding between the family, as there is something important in caring for your child as a whole, and not clamping the cord. There has even been claims that the act of cord clamping is purely for vanity reasons, in that parent’s do not want to handle the ‘ick’ of the placenta and cord. Again, all these reasons have never been under a professional study.
7 It’s Sacred? Really?
There has been talk that a lotus birth is sacred, and it has left many people questioning its sacredness. Again, everyone has their own belief system, and definitions of what is sacred. This is simply one thing that a lot of people find sacred. Looking at it from a religious and Christian standpoint, people view this as the way that Christ made babies. That there is no reason to interfere with a mother and her child, and to leave the child the way it was intended to be until nature takes its course.
They feel that by clamping the cord, you are putting your baby at risk for naval infections. They even state that in the Judeo-Christian tradition, there is a reference to non-cutting of the cord in the book of the prophet Ezekial. There are many people who have chosen a lotus birth, and their reasons are not all the same. Some believe it is for the health benefits, while others see it as more of a sacred act.
6 What Does It Look Like?
There are always things that make us curious, and hearing the term lotus birth and reading the definition can make anyone want to know what it looks like. It is funny how the human mind works, even when we think something is going to be disgusting, we just have to peek, even if we regret it for the rest of our life. OK, that is probably a bit dramatic, but it doesn’t stop us from wanting to know what it looks like.
The placenta itself is about 1-2 pounds right after birth and looks like a big, red blob with veins running through it. The umbilical cord is slippery, and ribbon looking and is usually 2-3 feet long. The cord quickly dries and shrinks after birth, resembling a piece of rope. When a lotus birth is done, due to the wrapping, it looks like a little pillow with a decorative string.
5 Is There Every A Birth Where You Medically Can Not Do This?
Some people may wonder if there is ever a situation where a mother can not have a lotus birth. Specifically, if you had an experience like I did, where the umbilical cord was much shorter than average. It can take a woman up to 30 minutes to deliver her placenta, and if she is having a lotus birth, this may mean that there is a delay in breastfeeding and skin to skin.
This is not always true, the baby can be placed on the woman’s stomach for skin to skin while we await the arrival of the placenta. Also, a lot of importance is placed on immediate, or very quick, introduction to the breast. While this is very important, it is not necessary to do this immediately. It is medically fine for a newborn to wait 30 minutes to be taken to the breast.
4 But, How Do I Bathe My Newborn?
Bathing a newborn is a very exciting and scary time. When we cut the cord, we are always taught that we can not submerge their naval in water until the cord has fallen off. Until then, it is sponge baths for everyone! With a lotus birth, many women want to know how they are supposed to bathe their baby with all the extra stuff laying around.
The truth is that you can bath your baby as you normally would, just keep the placenta nearby. They say it is best to have someone hold the placenta while you bathe your little one. They even say that it is OK if you get the cord wet, it can be patted dry. Another argument is that they don’t see a need to even wash their newborn for the first week of life, to let them receive all the benefits from any lingering vernix.
3 What About Cord Blood Banking?
A popular thing this day in age is to bank the cord blood. Many parents are opting for this option, as the blood that is banked has been proven to be very beneficial in treating your child if they get sick. Obviously, if you complete a lotus birth this is not possible. They worry that this is irresponsible of them in this day and age to not have a potentially life saving substance on hand.
Those who are in favour of lotus births, say that it is irresponsible to take the blood right away. They state that the blood they take would be better served to the baby if they receive it right away and that it gives them an extra health boost. They also go as far as to say that the act of cord blood banking is a scheme that is made up in order for a lot of people to make a lot of money. I can see this becoming a controversial topic very soon.
2 What Would Normally Happen To The Placenta?
Sometimes when we hear about one thing, it makes us think about another. So when we think about keeping the placenta attached we wonder what normally happens with the placenta? In most labour and birth situations, the primary focus is on the mom and her new baby, and that really is the way it should be. Not much thought or care is taken with the after birth stuff.
Most of the time, the placenta is discarded as waste and disposed of in a proper medical way. In some instances where women would like to keep their placenta, either to consume or have made into pill form there are some measures that are taken. The hospital will normally inject the placenta with formaldehyde and place it in a biohazard bag. For those who cherish lotus birth this is a cardinal sin and a waste of a very good resource. For me, personally, throw it away.
1 What About If I Need A C-Section?
If some women are considering a lotus birth after doing some research, and reading this article. They may wonder what would happen should they require a c-section. Women already fear the need for a c-section, and if they are planning a lotus birth, it may make them even more anxious. The truth is, a c-section is no different than any other type of birth. Other than it being a surgery, you are still giving birth to your child.
If the hospital is given direction on the mother’s wish for a lotus birth, then they will be able to keep the baby and placenta intact during the surgery. Nothing really changes, it is still placed with the baby and mother and there should be no medical reason for it to need to be separated. At the end of the day, the health of mom and baby is the most important. So, if you are interested in a lotus birth go for it! I may stick to the “normal.”
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