While initial reactions to lotus birth often include questioning the practicality of caring for a baby and a placenta for a week, it was my experience that lotus birth was very practical. In the first week after birth there is really only one task mother and baby need to focus on: skin to skin bonding. Every newborn and his/her mother should enjoy a week of rest, learning to breastfeed and being waited on by their loved ones until they find their feet. It can be very hard for women to surrender to this need. We're used to running around meeting the needs of every family member, running the household, and keeping the world turning. Lotus birth forced me to slow down and take advantage of those first mothering moments. I spent the first four days of motherhood lying skin to skin with my daughter, gazing at her.
|wearing babe & placenta in bag|
Of course, lotus born babies reap all the benefits of delayed cord clamping, too. (For more on cord blood and delayed cord clamping see here).
We treated her placenta with lavender oil to stave off any unpleasant smell the placenta might make. In hindsight we're not convinced treating the placenta is necessary and as we prepare for our second child, we plan not to treat the placenta unless we have to. (ETA: we did not treat the placenta in our second lotus birth, all we did was wrap it in a damp cloth and change cloths regularly. At the end of the birth the placenta still looked and smelt fresh. Read here for full details).
The assumption that the placenta should be treated, I believe, comes from our cultural discomfort with the organ. Placentas are dismissed as "gross" and assumed to omit a bad smell, it may not be the case, but how will we know if we automatically treat with oils, herbs and salt?
Salting the placenta is presumed by many to be a necessary part of lotus birthing. On retreat with Shivam Rachana, editor of the book Lotus Birth, she shared that this practice in Australia came from one of the earliest lotus birthing families, whose father was a butcher, used to salting meat. Personally salting the placenta did not appeal to my own family. We planned to plant the placenta one day and wondered how the soil and plant would thrive if salt was thrown into the mix? Further to this, for my family lotus birthing was foremost about refusing to intervene in the natural process of birth. Salting the placenta is often done with the intent to dry it out and avoid a rotting smell. We did not wish to speed up the natural drying process, so decided not to salt.
I am more organised this time and have sewn a bag to carry our second child's placenta in, but I opted not to make one from a specific placenta bag pattern (it was my personal preference not to have a cover for the cord, and I like the idea of using the bag afterwards as an everyday shoulder bag).
lotus birth kits to expectant families. Her kits include placenta bags, items for treating placenta, instructions for lotus birth, and most importantly her support and availability for answering questions parents have.
Why we initially chose lotus birth
Our 1st lotus birth
Our second lotus birth