Tuesday, November 28, 2006

consider the lotus (and its birth)

After I reminsced about the departed internet mothering heroine, Mango Mama/Jennifer van Laanen Smit, my dearly missed friend Jen suggested that I try the wayback machine. This was partially successful, as much of Mango Mama's site is lost in the mists of time and adultery, but delightfully enough the Lotus Birth information has been saved by the Wayback people. Sadly the moneysaving tips are lost (where, amongst other things, Mango Mama suggested leaving the stickers on a Rubbermaid tub used for home birth and then returning it for a refund, hopefully after rinsing out all the blood and placenta). (Here we will divert from our subject matter for a moment, as the Drunken Housewife notes that Jen, who dared to leave bucolic San Francisco for a more high-powered life in L.A., supplied the D.H. with two of her weirdest alcohol related moments. Alcohol-related moment #1: the D.H., a shiksa if there ever was one, stopped off at a nice wine store to pick up a bottle of champagne to take to Jen's new baby's bris. The baby's father, not of Jewish descent and in favor of foreskins, was very reluctantly going along with the circumcision thing. The D.H. felt in a quandary and turned to the liquor store owner. "I need a nice bottle to take to a bris, but it can't be too nice, because the baby's father is against it, so I don't want to get too good a bottle, but it has to be pretty good to be festive." Alcohol-related moment #2: at a boozy stay-at-home-parents' night out, Jen regaled the table: "I had a dream last night that I had a penis. [significant pause] And I used it." She refused to go into more detail, but as another parent sniped, "She probably just had breastmilk come out of it"].

Anyhow, thanks to the Wayback Machine people, I have been able to refresh my memory about the Lotus Birth. A lotus birth occurs when as a woman gives birth, the cord is not cut, and the placenta is left attached to the baby until it drops off naturally after 3-8 days. Why?
The concept of the Lotus Birth is that the baby and placenta grow from the same cell, they share the same energy field and etheric aura, therefore when the cord is cut there is a hole in that energy field, making baby vulnerable to digestion problems, emotional upsets etc. (1) While the placenta remains attached after birth the etheric field around the baby is sealing off properly and when complete the cord drops away. The complete field results in a stronger immune system because it is a stronger field energy. All the life force of that amazing organ gets transferred along the cord to the baby during this period. To cut the cord is to deprive the baby of completeness of these powerful subtle forces. (2) It is also suggested that family members'etheric aura can be healed by being in contact with the Lotus baby.
While the placenta is attached to the baby, the family is encouraged to have no visitors, as they might give off negative vibrations which could upset the placenta and make it fall off early.

There are a couple of things which disturb me about the Lotus Birth, besides the new agey talk of etheric auras. First, the mother is encouraged not to hold the baby the first day or so, because the placenta should not be moved or wrapped up but instead left to air out. How on earth could nuzzling up to a placenta be better for a baby than being held by the mother? Next, the placenta seems to be more important than the baby to these Lotus Birth-ers:

After the cord has solidified it is time for some action. You now have to remove the blood clots. This wasn't as easy as it sounds for us. You see the blood clots actually stick to the placenta. Pick off the ones on the outside and then reach into the amniotic sac and CAREFULLY turn it inside out. Now pick off all the clots. Some are big and some are small. Just do the best you can. It really helps to have someone holding the placenta. My husband held her in his hands while my midwife, Colleen, and I picked the clots off. One thing I would have done different is the timing. We let the placenta sit in the sieve for too long because when Sean tried to lift her up the placenta was stuck to the sieve, we carefully lifted her up and she was fine. Now the baby and I pretty much stayed in bed for the next 24 hours. We moved the bed into the kid�s room and the kids into my room. I wanted some privacy and was afraid that the kids might hurt the placenta unintentionally. My 2 year old is very energetic. I kept the placenta in the sieve for the next 24 hours. I would nurse the baby laying down and when I switched sides I would move the placenta to the other side of the bed with the baby being careful to still keep them level with each other.

The next morning salting began. We salted her down on both sides and placed it on a cloth diaper. Still not moving the baby around much. That is how it went. The placenta is fresh so it keeps absorbing salt. You find yourself salting her very often. Coating her with salt (Sea salt by the way). As time went on we began wrapping her up in the diaper with a pin. And ever so often at diaper changes checking the placenta and taking care of her too. We would change the placentas diaper often because it would soak up blood. As the placenta dries up you don�t need to change it as often. I would also put the diapered placenta inside a pillowcase and pin it snugly around the placenta. With all the salt on it you want to try to keep it enclosed so it doesn�t fall out and so salt doesn�t get all over the baby. This is really amazing. You are taking care of both of them. They are one and you are recognizing this and respecting their need for each other. I would wrap them up together in a receiving blanket. The cord would sometimes stick out and he would hold it in his hand. It was sooooo CUTE!

By day 2 the cord was surprisingly stiff. It is amazing how dry it gets and so quickly. We would still give the placenta plenty of drying out time. Like unwrapping her, salt her down and lay her unwrapped while he slept. Since the cord was so stiff you couldn't actually lay them down right next to each other without putting strain on his bellybutton area, but with a little maneuvering you can work out different positions that are comfortable for your baby. I was always repositioning them so he was comfortable.

The placenta shrinks in size. It becomes small and hard. I never experienced any odor problems. This is not a piece of rotting meat. The salting process preserves it. I still have mine sitting in a paper bag. She is totally preserved. On day four I decided to put some lavender flowers on her. Not because she needed it, but because I thought it would be nice. . . .

On day five I was holding him in my lap while I went to the bathroom. As I stood up I looked at him and his cord was sticking up out of the blanket. IT WAS OFF! I have to admit I was a little disappointed thought it would be a little more magical. Not just me sitting on the toilet! . . . I can see differences in my children and I attribute this to the lotus birth. I even felt a huge connection to the placenta. I was sad that they weren't connected anymore. I wanted to take her back into bed with us. It was so strange not to have them together anymore.


So, consider a lotus birth, if you wish, but don't invite us over. My negative vibrations are sure to sever that poor cord, and the Sober Husband would not be able to restrain himself from a few, possibly tactless, remarks.

8 comments:

hughman said...

god bless childbirth but this whole lotus birth thing is just so creepy on so many levels, from calling the placenta "she" to salting "it". all i could picture was salted cod. ewwwwwww!!!

Green said...

Not only am I skeeved out by the fact that the placenta is a she, instead of an it, but I am confused as to WHY the placenta is a SHE as opposed to a HE, since the baby was a he.

vacasmagras said...

I have a dvd on home birth which has as a sort of 'dvd extra' some coverage of this 'being nice to the placenta for a long time' or 'lotus birth' routine. So, if you don't wanna read about it, but wanna see a video of it, lemme know.

Freewheel said...

I'm so misinformed. I thought you were suppose to cook and eat the placenta.

Trouble said...

I thought placenta was for hair products. Damn, I'm so uninformed.

Anonymous said...

Sh*t. I thought you blended a hunk of it up with V8 juice (Bloody Mama) and stuck the rest in your freezer for 13 years! I'm way too mainstream.

artpredator said...

i still haven't figured out what to do with mine/my son's. it sits in the freezer on top of that little cake from our wedding...

if at 46 i find myself preggo again, i know what to do about the placenta--thanks!

Briana said...

the info you gave on the lotus birth is just one technique of doing it... and nowhere have I read that the mother should be discouraged from cuddling the first day. Plus is does have some benefit, as blood pumps from the placenta to baby for sometime after placental delivery. Usually around two hours, even after it stops visibly pumping. so i think idea to wait at least this long, as the extra blood and nutrients are great for baby.