Monday, December 22, 2008

Why I Have Chosen to have a Lotus Birth...

Lotus birth, or Umbilical Nonseverance, is the practice of leaving the umbilical cord unclamped and intact following birth. Rather than intervening upon the normal physiological process of the neonate, Umbilical Nonseverance relies on the Wharton's jelly changes which produce a natural internal clamping within 10-20 minutes postpartum. The umbilical cord then dries to a sinew and naturally detaches from the umbilicus. Detachment generally occurs 2-3 days after birth.

"The World Health Organization emphasizes the importance of a unified approach to care of the mother and the baby, and clearly states (in Care in Normal Birth: A Practical Guide, Geneva, Switzerland, 1997) "Late clamping (or not clamping at all) is the physiological way of treating the cord, and early clamping is an intervention that needs justification.” Furthermore, the physiological process of Nonseverance supports placental transfusion in its purest form, as there is no point at which anyone, other than the baby, decides when the placental transfusion is complete. This will be individual to each baby, based on its physical condition at birth

When Umbilical Nonseverance or Lotus Birth is practiced, rarely in hospitals but more common in birth centers and home births, maternal-neonatal bonding proceeds uninterrupted, which is beneficial for both mother and newborn..."

- Wikipedia

Let me take you back about a year and a half to Justus's unassisted water birth...

After Justus was born we wrapped him up in a towel and put him in bed with us. We placed the intact placenta in a bowl and kept it close to baby. We waited a good 1 - 1.5 hours to tie
(tightly!) and cut the cord, dress the baby and wrap him back up. I needed to use the washroom and Justus had fallen asleep so Ivan helped me go and stayed with me there for a few minutes. He decided to go check on Justus when all of a sudden I hear him call out to me in a very scared and loud voice talking about lots of blood everywhere. He brings the baby to me, and the towel he was wrapped in is now covered in blood. I peel it off and can tell that the blood was coming from the umbilical cord by the trail of blood on his shirt. There was SO MUCH blood. I was really scared. I kept saying out loud, "He's fine, don't worry... he'll be ok", because honestly I couldn't handle the thought of any other possible outcome. I tied the cord tie even tighter but by that time it looked like it had already started to clot and the bleeding had stopped.

All I could think of is WHY? Not so much why did this happen, but why did we need to cut it in the first place? I stay home and birth unassisted to avoid any and all unnecessary interventions and here I was creating one of my own. All of a sudden the cutting of the umbilical cord seemed as much of an intervention as any other, and it now carried with it risks I hadn't considered before.

I secretly vowed to myself (at least at a subconcious level, it seems) that I would never cut an umbilical cord again unless it was absolutely necessary. I didn't realize how strongly I felt about this until last week when Ivan and I were talking about the birth and I mentioned something about leaving the placenta attached. He simply asked, "for how long?" and I got very defensive. It was like that mama bear in me woke up and was ready to attack to protect and preserve the natural order of things. His one little question got me all fired up and I went on and on about how the placenta will be staying intact until it falls off naturally. It belongs to the baby after all. If it was necessary in a "normal" birth (and we all know how many variations of that there are!) to have a severed umbilical cord then it would happen naturally just after the birth, but it doesn't. It takes days.

I do wonder if the approximately 3-7 days that it takes for the placenta to detach is a time that mom and baby should stay in bed, close to each other without much interference. A smooth transition from being in the womb to being outside. A time for mom and baby to rest and bond with each other. In our culture we marvel at women who are up and at it shortly after the baby is born. As if that is some kind of accomplishment to be commended. I've lived that way long enough and this time I plan to do things very differently.

A friends experience...

After the birth of baby Wudi, William and Linda decided to spend the first postpartum month with us. I was overjoyed to be a part of their new experience as parents. As much as they were learning from my experience as a mother, I was also learning from them. William and Linda are from China, where the traditions and practices are a little (sometimes a LOT) different than our own. I was very impressed with the time Linda allowed herself to rest and heal after the birth. For weeks she remained in bed. It was expected of her for the first week of course, but by the second week the "grace" period was starting to wear off, and by the third week she was starting to be viewed as lazy and "unrealistic" about her new role as a mother. I was extremely insulted. Honestly it made my blood boil! This woman just had a baby for crying out loud! I came to her defense each time one of these rediculous and insensitive comments were let out in my presence. Quite frankly, the reason it upset me so much was because I was very envious of Linda's postpartum approach. It was a luxury I had never considered taking for myself or my newborn baby.

This time around I have been treating myself very differently, even throughout the pregnancy. I'm allowing myself to slow down and rest, something I hardly ever do. I'm asking to sit down when I'm tired and eat when I need to. I'm being a lot more sensitive and kind to my needs. And I am doing this all with the confidence that *this* is what makes one a "super woman". It's not the ignoring of our needs in order to prove our strength. That is reserved for those who buckle to the pressure of our culture when they hear comments like those I mentioned above. Not me, not this time. This time I am embracing everything that makes me a woman, including the gentle and vulnerable side.

I fully intend to take advantage of the rest period following the birth of this baby. I will not be having any visitors over prematurely except for the very few close friends that I know will respect my needs and desires. I will not be playing beat the clock to see how quickly I can bounce back into a size zero. Instead, I will welcome the natural flow of my body as it once again performs this miraculous event. I will leave everything alone to unfold in it's inteded time, including the detaching of the placenta from baby. This time... I'm taking care of me, my baby, my birth space, my post-birth space and I'm feeling really good about that!


Michelle said...

This is beautiful. Enjoy and I hope your days stay true to your desires.

the platts said...

You are doing a wonderful, powerful thing for you, your baby and your children Angel! I wish you strength in your journey!