Originally published on xoJane on 24 October, 2013
Lotus birth is the practice of leaving the umbilical cord uncut after childbirth so that the baby is left attached to his/her placenta until the cord naturally separates at the umbilicus, usually a few days after birth. Wikipedia
Other animals chew the cord off shortly after birth, but as a vegan, this option did not appeal to me.
During my lotus birth, a lovely six-day period of bonding and closeness was established with my baby, and we washed and wrapped the placenta everyday to keep it clean and placed it in a waterproof pouch.
As the placenta did not release until five hours after the birth, this provided for a special bonding period in a close embrace, without separation. During this vital period of bonding between us, I felt strongly that it was important that no one else take the baby away. Having the placenta still attached to the cord helped to ensure this.
Shortly after the birth, the cord dried quickly into the texture of an electric cable. During the nights we slept with the baby on the bed and the placenta was placed next to the bed. Transporting the placenta with baby around the house was made convenient by using a stretchy wrap, which had a pocket in the front to hold the placenta.
After six days of healing and bonding, we woke up one morning to find our baby Ulysses had gripped hold of the cord and detached it by himself, leaving a neat and healthy-looking belly button. For the six days the placenta was still attached, he was very peaceful and slept extremely well. Due to the damp environment where we lived and because we also chose to wrap plastic around the cloth, the placenta did not dry out as well as it should have and did leave a musty smell for the last few days. However, as the cord had already sealed off and we kept the rooms well aired, I didn’t feel this posed any threat to Ulysses.
Despite the minor inconvenience of learning to maneuver around the cord for six days and dealing with the cleaning of the placenta, I feel the potential benefits of lotus birthing far outweigh any cons.
In fact, I will definitely be having a lotus birth for my next child.
In cultures where they maintain the placenta after cutting the cord, a tradition exists for the placenta to be buried to the right side of the front door for a male and the left side for a female. My husband and I lived in a block of flats at the time so did not have this option and decided we much preferred the idea of returning the placenta back to the land through the sea rather than burying it. As we love to travel, the sea is a symbol of adventure and freedom, a life I hope Ulysses has the opportunity to experience someday.
This is why I chose lotus birth -- and child-led parenting, and why I would recommend it to anyone who asked.
Growing up as a conventionally parented child, I often felt a sense of powerlessness that in turn created a dependency on others and lack of self-confidence. Natural birth and child-led parenting provides ways you can show the most precious person in your life that you respect, trust and honor their innate wisdom.