Lotus Birth

Lotus birth is a relatively new evolution of birth for humans. We talked with Dr. Sarah Buckley, mother of four, with three lotus births under her belt to help us understand more about the process, the history, the how to’s, the whys and joys. More and more is being understood about the process of “cutting the cord” and the benefits of leaving the cord intact than the “normal” 3-30 seconds, by normal we do not mean natural. We are seeing the wisdom of at least letting the cord stop complete pulsation before cutting it, and in a growing number of families, the lotus birth is being embraced.

The Beginnings

It started with Claire Day who became aware of the work of Jane Goodall observing chimpanzees and noting that they practice this up in the trees. The chimps rest and move about up high in the trees with their babies and they keep the placenta attached to the baby until it falls off naturally. Claire realized these were social, peace-loving animals and connected the two together. She also read many scriptures that indicated that many holy men, such as Buddha and Christ had not had their cord’s cut. Putting this and her other work as a healer together, she deduced that cutting the cord was traumatic for the baby, and that we as humans would spend too many years trying to recover from this.

Lotus Birth as Good Sense

More important than the history of lotus birth is why you would want to consider doing it today. Dr. Sarah Buckley makes the point that “When the cord isn’t cut straight away the placenta actually transfers blood back to the baby, about 100ml of blood comes back from the placenta into the baby in the first 3 minutes after birth. And if the cord suddenly is cut the baby doesn’t receive that 1/3 to 1/2 blood supply and they experience it as a hemorrhage.”

Imagine for a moment losing 1/3 of our blood supply as an adult! What incredible, immediate impact that would have on our heath and sense of self. To do this at a time when our babies have just completed a very long and arduous journey to get through from the womb to the world is definitely not good timing, if there ever is! It is also observed that even when the majority of the cord stops pulsating minutes after the birth, the umbilicus (where cord meets baby) has been seen to pulsate for hours after the birth. For those of us who thought about waiting for twenty minutes, it appears longer may be better. But that is why it’s important to delay cord cutting, but why exactly delay the cutting until it falls off naturally?

Dr. Sarah Buckley states that there are many important aspects to lotus birth, one of them she explains is what’s being discovered in primal therapy. She says, “In primal therapy it’s (the placenta is) like the baby’s first possession, the baby’s first object, the first other, even though actually genetically it’s made out of the same material of the baby, it’s part of the baby. But the baby experiences it as the other. And the ultrasound has seen baby’s licking the placenta and putting their head against the placenta.” What we are seeing is the baby is very sensitive to the handling of the placenta.

Many times babies will start to cry as soon as the doctor, midwife, or other person goes to cut or handle the cord. If we watch birth videos we can see that when the cord is cut is often the exact timing that the baby suddenly goes into distress, this can be emotional or physical. And according to Sarah, this continues on until after the cord has fallen off naturally.

In Sarah’s interview she shared her experience of being at a friend’s house where the baby was upset, and the placenta was cold, and after warming up the placenta the baby was once again calm and happy. What’s important to keep in mind is what our babies are communicating. Sometimes people are undecided about if they are really going to share this experience with their baby or not, but as soon as they start to handle the cord, they realize that baby is unhappy. If you are on the fence, leave some space for baby to have baby’s say. Just because they don’t have the words, doesn’t mean they aren’t communicating!

Lotus Birth How To’s

With a lotus birth comes many options! According to Sarah, Claire Day and Jeanine Parvati Baker, two of the first modern-day known lotus birth instigators used pyramids to cure the placenta as they awaited the separation. Today, families are putting the placenta in cloth diapers, colanders, bowls and diapers with silk pillowcases! They are also playing with sea salt and powerdered rosemary to help the drying process and sacredly wrapping the cord in decorative silk.

What is most important to know is that no matter what you do, the process of the cord falling off is still the same! A little bit of bacteria will start to grow where the cord meets baby and eat away at the cord. A little redness and pussiness is normal, whether it’s a lotus birth or not. And if you think it’s getting a bit too yucky, Sarah recommends a bit of breastmilk as a natural antibiotic. The how to’s are not set in stone, and can easily be adjusted as you go through the process.

The Lotus Birth Importance

The last thing Sarah wanted to leave us with is the importance of taking time to allow baby to fully adjust to life outside the womb without a lot of outside energy. This is where lotus birth is an encouraging ally, with baby attached to it’s cord, it’s natural to stay in bed with baby, to nurture baby and let the first 3-10 days, until the cord’s separation, be one of stillness and intimacy between mom and baby. This practice is not only out of respect for the baby’s attachment to the placenta and cord, but respect to the huge life transitions baby and mother are experiencing. Allowing rest, allowing both mother and baby to be nurtured in stillness, allowing the family to bond before it steps out into the rush of the world is great soul medicine!

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