When I first discovered I was pregnant I immediately knew I’d be having a Lotus Birth. I don’t know where I first came across the idea and I certainly didn't know the logistics of it all, but I knew it was the most natural thing I could do for my Baby and to that idea I was committed. I began to research Lotus Births and more intensely look into it once my time had finally come so that I could be best prepared no matter what situation I birthed in.
(Reading all about Baby and labor while 7 months pregnant on holiday in Ibiza)
The abundance that is health is something we are all born with and something we can all claim. Unfortunately, it is wrongfully and traumatically ripped away from us only moments after we are born. In typical hospital births as soon as the baby is born the umbilical cord is cut.
Severed. No one thinks twice about it because it is the new norm and is a standard practice. I mean, my umbilical cord was cut immediately, my brothers' umbilical cords were cut immediately, and just about anyone else I know had theirs cut immediately, too. So, of course, we never think twice about keeping the cord attached.
But what is the umbilical cord cut from?
What is it attached to?
And why is it so urgent to cut?
The umbilical cord connects the baby to the placenta while inside the womb. The placenta is an organ that grows specifically for each child (unless, in some cases, they are twins) to nourish and sustain their life while in the womb. Take a moment to think about how cool that is! A brand new organ that grows inside of a woman just for a Baby during the time that Baby is being created!
(The placenta also holds space in our bellies and can add around 1.5 lbs of weight)
It is through the placenta that babies receive oxygen to breathe and nutrients to grow to become the big healthy babies we meet at birth. In many hospital settings though, the idea is that by immediately cutting the umbilical cord, Mothers chances of hemorrhaging is reduced, but even the World Health Organization recommends waiting more than 1 minute before cutting the umbilical cord off.
In the womb, oxygen travels through the umbilical cord to the placenta so that Baby can breathe. Baby needs their umbilical cord to remain intact and connected to the placenta until their brand new organs adjust to breathing without help and outside of water. When cutting the cord too soon, oxygen might not yet be efficiently flowing because the Baby is not yet acclimated to his/her new environment.
(My Daughter's umbilical cord as seen at Birth)
Effects of cord cutting
When a baby is born about 1/3 of their blood volume is still in the placenta. By allowing the cutting of the cord, we essentially are depriving our child(ren) of all of this blood volume that belongs to them because the blood never has the chance to transfer from the placenta back to the baby via the umbilical cord. This blood is essential and is rich in stem cells, iron, and of course, oxygen. The Baby stores these various nutrients and uses them throughout their first year of Life and possibly for much longer, even throughout the course of their lives.
Studies have even shown brain lesions on children who have had their umbilical cords cut off immediately following birth. This can happen when a Doctor cuts the umbilical cord much too soon- 30 seconds to 1 minute after birth. If the Doctor had waited until the cord stopped pulsating, known as Delayed Cord Clamping, this could potentially be avoided.
When Baby doesn't receive this cord blood (because the umbilical cord has been cut too soon), it can also be a cause for jaundice. Jaundice is usually a minor temporary yellowing of the skin that occurs when bilirubin builds up due to the production and break down of red blood cells. A baby's brand new liver can have trouble processing all of this so quickly and can become backed up. This is because by losing that placental blood, their body has to immediately go into overdrive to make up for it, putting their newborn liver under stress. Immediate Cord Clamping, as it is referred to, can cause minor to severe brain damage and brain lesions, depending on any other stressors involved in Babys' birth.
Obviously these children are mostly deemed “healthy” and “normal” by societal standards, as these brain lesions are inconsiderable, but I believe that our children deserve more. Our babies deserve the chance to be born whole. They deserve the opportunity to allow their bodies to properly function at 100% in their own timing and not in our definition of what that timing should or shouldn’t be.
Our Babies deserve a peaceful birth. They deserve a gentle birth. They deserve a calm birth. For me, this meant a Lotus Birth.
A Lotus Birth is when the umbilical cord is naturally allowed to separate from the baby by drying up and breaking off on its' own. This process usually takes between 3-10 days.
The umbilical cord is made up of Whartons Jelly. Whartons Jelly is a thick, gummy, and flexible material that covers the 1 vein and 2 arteries inside of it. Once the blood transfers back to the Baby through the umbilical cord, the umbilical cord naturally begins to dry as it has completed its service to the child.
(Our Daughters umbilical cord drying up one day after birth)
For our Baby Girl, it took 64 hours and 25 minutes (not even 3 days!) for her umbilical cord to fall off. I woke up to feed her and change her diaper one morning just before 3 am. As I laid her down to remove her diaper, her umbilical cord just snapped off! Completely painless, completely uneventful, completely perfect.
(Our Daughters belly button after her cord fell off)
Western society has taught us that new Moms should snap back with ease after having a baby. New Moms are pressured into thinking their homes should be perfectly clean, while dinner is still prepared, the other kids are still cared for, and all other chores are still attended to without skipping a beat. Cutting the umbilical cord aids in the separation of Mother and Child both physically and emotionally and it becomes easier for Mom to believe she must get right back to work after giving birth.
This ideology is completely unrealistic and unhealthy! After having a Baby what Mom really wants and needs is time and space.
Time to heal her womb and vagina. Time to discover her new Baby and find how this Divine New Being fits into the family dynamic.
Space to absorb the chain of events that just occurred. Space to breathe and relax and sleep. Space to just.
Having a Lotus Birth enables all of this for a new Mom and family.
A Lotus Birth made most sense to us. It is natural. It is gentle. It forces the new family to take things slow and to rest in the days following the coming of this new life. Yes, it’s a bit more difficult to handle Baby with their placenta still attached to them, but again, it’s all about slowing down and giving way to the divinity that is new life.
(Relaxing with my days old Daughter and her placenta still attached)
Once the Baby is born, and after taking some time to rest, you can begin to prepare the placenta for the next few days that it will be attached to your Baby. Simply rinse the placenta of all blood using clean water from a sink or bathtub, then pat dry with a towel, and place in a bowl. Some people use placenta bags, which can be made from cotton or hemp, and which might make it a bit easier to move around with the Baby. We ordered one that did not arrive in time so we ended up using a glass bowl. You can find placenta bags on Etsy.
(Our placenta before being rinsed and dried)
It will take 2 people as one person will hold Baby and the other person will clean the placenta of excess blood. After patting dry and placing into a bowl, we covered our placenta in rosemary, Himalayan pink salt, and lavender because it helps to reduce odor. In hindsight, once we covered our placenta in these herbs, we thought it created an odor that wasn't even there before. Next time we’ll wait to sprinkle herbs over the placenta until we can smell a foul odor.
(Our placenta with dried rosemary and dried lavender sprinkled on top)
After her umbilical cord dried up and fell off we immediately put it outside in its bowl and covered it until we could bury it. We put it outside on our balcony because it was already cold and we knew it would be preserved there. Most people will put theirs in the freezer until they're ready to honor it.
We chose to bury her placenta in our garden at home to signify that no matter where this world takes our Sweet Girl, this home, here in London, will always have a piece of her. She was born just upstairs, in her living room, with only her Mommy, Daddy, and Grandma present. It was a calm and peaceful birth full of love and she came to be with us at exactly the right time. We also wanted to thank the placenta for sustaining our Daughter by peacefully burying it in the Earths soil. From Earth it came and to Earth it returns. Other people might choose to plant a tree over it, cast it into the sea, or otherwise honor it.
(Burying my Daughters placenta)
In hospitals placentas are regarded as medical waste and either thrown away, sold to pharmaceutical companies for cosmetics use and/or testing, or even donated to treat a wide variety of medical issues without the Mother's direct consent. Many women are shocked once they learn this truth.
Delayed Cord Clamping
What if you understand the need for leaving the umbilical cord intact immediately following birth, but aren’t down with the idea of carrying both the Baby and the placenta around for days? I personally did not see the carrying of the placenta to be too much hassle as I just chose to accept the whole experience for what it was. My Daughter did have a short umbilical cord though, which made it a bit more difficult to manage at times just because it meant that the bowl was always so close to us. Her foot sometimes kicked the bowl and sometimes it was awkward to know where to position the Baby and the placenta. We figured it out though and before you know it, it was all over.
(Reenergizing with my Daughter still connected to her placenta)
Your next best option to Lotus Birthing would be Delayed Cord Clamping. This is when the umbilical cord is allowed to stop pulsating on its own, with no interferences, before it is cut off. This process typically takes around 30 minutes, but it could be much shorter or even a bit longer. The baby is able to receive all of his/her nutrient rich blood and the parents do not have to worry over carrying both Baby and placenta around in those first few days as is the care with a Lotus Birth. You'll know its ok to remove the umbilical cord from the baby when the umbilical cord goes from a thick pinkish purplish in color (as seen above) to white in color and limp. This signifies that all blood has made a complete transfer.
(My Daughters white umbilical cord)
The difference between a Lotus Birth and Delayed Cord Clamping is a deeply spiritual one. Lotus Birthing honors the process of Motherhood, pregnancy, birth, and life. It is gentle and reminds us all of how precious beginnings are. It reminds us to move slow, go with the flow, and above all, always listen to our Babies. Delayed Cord Clamping allows our Babies to receive all of their nutrients and blood, but is not as rich in sacred symbology.
Whatever you choose, please bless your child with health and leave their umbilical cord attached until it is ready to be removed in whichever way you see fit.
(Our Daughter comfortably attached to her umbilical cord 2 days after birth)