I always thought lotus birth was extremely interesting, but I also was not willing to give up the many benefits of raw placenta consumption. Recently though, I learned a way around this, where I could do both, and this is how.
Our journey began on June 15th, 2019 at around 11 am when baby and placenta were born. After baby was born, I laid in the birth pool for some time, and when I decided to get out I stood up, gave a gentle push. The placenta went right into the pool. My husband grabbed a bowl, I placed the placenta in it, got out of the pool, and sat on the couch with baby still attached.
Preparing and Consuming the Placenta
Once I felt up to it, approximately 6-8 hours after birth, it was time to prepare the placenta for consumption and begin setting up for the lotus birth! I sanitized all of the counter space and laid down parchment paper. I took the placenta to the sink and washed off excess blood and blood clots then returned to the table with baby in tow.
I first removed the fetal membranes from the placenta, which are extremely healing for wounds, cuts, and burns – unbeknownst to most! I kept these and stored them. What you see me holding up in the photo below are the membranes. This is the sac baby lived inside while in utero.
With the membranes removed, I went on to prepare the maternal side for consumption. Below you will see an image of the maternal side of the placenta. This would be was the side attached to my uterus, supplying vital nutrients to the baby. As you can see, there are still a few more blood clots on the placenta. Those were removed later.
To quickly complete the placenta anatomy lesson, the photo below is of the fetal side. This is the side that baby cuddled up with inside of their sac! In the top left of the photo, you see the membranes that were removed earlier in the process.
Moving back to the process, it’s important to know that the maternal side is made up of lobes. These lobes are what I cut off into 1-2 inch size chunks, with each chunk being considered one ‘dose’. In the photo below you will see the membranes in the pile on the left, the lobes (which are intended to be frozen and consumed) in the middle, and a small pile of blood clots on the far right.
The placenta, now lacking the maternal side, is left only with the fetal side. This is what the maternal side looks like with the lobes removed!
With the lobes and membranes removed, the only thing left is the fetal side and cord which are still attached to baby. This is where the lotus birth portion begins, but before we get into that, I will explain how I finished the raw consumption preparations.
Once I had all of the lobes cut into 1-2 inch pieces, I rinsed them off thoroughly and removed all remaining blood/blood clots. I used a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, placed each piece on the tray, and popped it in the freezer! Once they were frozen, I placed all of them in a baggie to better preserve.
It is suggested to use one 1-inch piece in each smoothie, but I personally use more because I absolutely love the energy from them! I typically throw in one big piece or 2 pieces.
Many people are concerned about an overwhelming unpleasant taste in the smoothies, but I have had no issue adding frozen fruit into my smoothies. You can use any fruit, really! To overcome the mental aspect, I personally suggest including some kind of berry in your smoothie to mask the color of the placenta. I have had great success with smoothies that include strawberry, blueberry, mango, peaches, pineapple, apples, bananas; and really, whatever I felt like adding that day. There’s no real recipe to that part, it all depends on personal preference. Some really good recipes for inspiration can be found here and here.) My smoothies typically also include yogurt and some type of liquid. Again, what you decide on completely depends on your preference. Many women will also add in supplements to help boost healing and milk supply. Once all of your ingredients are added, blend and enjoy!
There is no set schedule for placenta consumption, I would just prepare a smoothie as desired. Whenever I needed an energy boost, I’d have a smoothie. Sometimes once a day, sometimes 3 times. Some days none at all!
If you don’t want to make a whole smoothie out of it, but you still want the benefits of raw consumption, you can break the chunks up into smaller pieces and swallow them whole! And, what exactly are the benefits I’m speaking on?
Health Benefits of Placenta Consumption
Image from MotherWise
Some can’t get down with raw consumption – I get that! There is also placenta encapsulation that can be done as well. This is where the placenta is dried, ground, and filled into capsules for easy consumption. This type of consumption is possible even if you want to choose a lotus birth, it’s just a few more additional steps. Feel free to take our Placenta Encapsulation Specialist Certificationcourse to learn more!
While placenta consumption, or human placentophagy, remains a fairly new idea to the medical community, there are quite a few emerging studies showing the potential benefits of this practice.
Breastfeeding mothers who consumed their placentas had higher levels of protein in their milk
Exclusively breast-fed babies gained weight faster when their mother consumed the placenta
Placenta consumption boosted breast milk production in 86% of women
Women who consume their placenta postpartum experience improved postnatal mood, higher energy, increased milk production, reduced bleeding, and faster recovery.
Significant changes in the postpartum hormones can be seen after consumption of the placenta.
Preparing for the Lotus Birth
So, what is a lotus birth, anyway? If you’re completely new to the idea, take a look at our article on lotus birth to learn more. Why would someone want to do that anyway? It’s a completely obscure idea to most here in the Western world, but many people have known about the potential benefits of a lotus birth for years.
Image from Womanofthewomb
Below are the supplies I used for the lotus birth. On the brown paper is a list of each herb used and what they are used for, and the jar is filled with said herbs. I also used some clean, dry towels, a stainless steel bowl, and some coarse table salt.
Rosemary: Cleansing, Protection, Healing, Longevity, Improves Memory and Concentration
Sage: Healing, Longevity, Good Health, Psychic Awareness, Protection
Verbena (Vervain): Purification, Protection, Blessings, Communication with Nature Spirits
After preparing everything for consumption, it’s time to prepare for the lotus birth portion! To start, I rinsed the fetal side, and placed 2 towels inside of my bowl, covered it with a thin layer of salt, and topped it with the placenta.
I then added another layer of salt on top of the placenta, and this helps with preservation and smell. When it’s all said and done, the entire placenta should be covered in salt, and then the herbs can be added.
That’s it! It’s really that simple. Many women will add their own personal touches, flowers and crystal stones on top, but this is all completely up to you and what you feel led to do. It is suggested to switch out the salt and herbs every 12 hours. I did this once, but after 24 hours, I moved the placenta from the bowl and into a baggie.
I can’t tell you how many times I pulled the placenta right out of the bowl while holding/walking with the baby, and he didn’t have a short cord either! As a mother of multiple children, it was incredibly difficult to stay stationary, and I found myself forgetting the bowl and placenta often. I ended up spilling the bowl a few times, which resulted in a huge salt mess, and the baggie ended up being MUCH easier and more family friendly in my opinion. I was able to seal it for the most part, which helped prevent spills and kept the placenta from being pulled out of the bag. It was also extremely helpful in the car seat, and when we traveled outside of the house.
In our experience, the cord dried very quickly! While it did become more firm than it was immediately after birth, it remained flexible and mostly out of the way. It never did seem to hurt or bother the baby, either. He was only four-days-old when, while having a diaper change, he kicked his cord and it popped right off! He didn’t flinch or fuss either, and it didn’t seem uncomfortable for him in any way. This is what it looked like when the cord detached. I continued to add breastmilk to the belly button in the days going forward.
As for the fetal side of the placenta, I plan to plant it with a plant that thrives in acidic soil like a blueberry bush, magnolia, or a dogwood tree. Until then, it sits in my freezer!
Overall, the lotus birth experience was absolutely beautiful. It was something I’m glad I was able to experience, but would I do it again? Probably not! It ended up being a lot of extra work in the postpartum period, and it didn’t really resonate with me spiritually. For someone else, it could be completely worth it, and this is where the personal preference comes in again. The beauty of postpartum is tailoring the healing and adjustment to YOU and YOUR baby. No one else really matters.
As for the raw consumption aspect, I think I will always consume raw. With my first, I did not consume the placenta at all; with my second, I encapsulated; and with my third and fourth, I consumed raw. If you ask me, there really is no comparison. Raw consumption provided far more energy than encapsulation ever did.
Of course, these choices are not for everyone, but if you feel inclined to give it a try – DO IT!
If you want to learn more about placentas, their anatomy, preparation, and much more, learn more about becoming an HERBAL Placenta Specialist here.
Ever think to leave your newborn baby attached to the placenta and carry both baby and placenta around until it severed on its own?
Don’t call it crazy until you look into it! There are many reasons why a mother or family would desire and opt to do this. There is name for this practice; it’s called a Lotus Birth!
What is a Lotus Birth?
A Lotus Birth, otherwise known as umbilical nonseverance, is leaving the umbilical cord uncut after birth. Not just delayed, like delayed cord clamping, but left completely intact! The mother would leave the baby and placenta attached until it separates naturally from the umbilicus (the belly button!). The separation occurs anywhere from 2-10 days (ishh). Some add herbs and such to the placenta as well!
Everywhere the baby would be carried, the placenta would be carried along as well!
Where did this practice come from?
The idea of Lotus Birth began around 1970. In 1974, Claire Lotus Day was carrying a baby. Ms. Day previously studied the work of primatologist Jane Goodall, whom observed chimpanzees. The primatologist noticed that after birth, the chimps would not bite and sever the umbilical cord. They would leave it intact and rest in the trees until it detached naturally. It seemed so natural and instinctual to Ms. Day!
While pregnant, she looked for and found a doctor that would support her choice to take her son home from the hospital with his placenta and cord still intact. She made it happen!
That is where the name came from!
Why Choose Lotus Birth?
1) Spiritual and Emotional Reasoning
This is more of a spiritual and emotional act. For many, Lotus Birthing is a sacred ceremony. The family likely values the transition between womb and mother. The family may also respect the connection the baby has with the placenta. Baby did just spend 9 months with it.
2) Calmer and More Peaceful Infant
Babies that stay connected to the placenta until it severs naturally are observed to be more calm and peaceful.
(I will say though, that most babies born at home will likely be calm and peaceful. Homebirth babes likely aren’t subjected to a vigorous and traumatic birth. They probably aren’t entering the world into a room of bright lights and chaos of multiple people rushing around like a baby born in a hospital would.)
3) Promotes Peace and Rest
Having baby attached to the placenta also encourages mom and baby to stay home and take it slow. This promotes a time of peace and rest. You certainly won’t see a mom carrying her baby and placenta around at the grocery store.
4) Promotes Recovery and Bonding
Lotus birth helps mom recover and promotes mother and infant bonding. Some families make this a whole family deal. The whole family stays home with the baby and does what they can around the house so that mom and baby have the first few days to adjust.
5) Baby is less likely to be passed around
It may also decreases the chances of baby being passed around to visitors. Baby… attached to an organ… with a cord that is gristle like… Yeahhhh, Uncle John likely won’t want to try and interfere with all of that. It is not healthy for a new baby to be passed around to everyone. It should be just mom and baby for days. Skin to skin. Naps on naps.
I am sure there are many other reasons, this is just what I have on the top of my head right now!
More info in the links below including How-To’s and placenta care while practicing a Lotus birth!
—–> Feel free to check out our other articles! <—–
I’ve waited for this child since August of 2017, when they first came to me and stated I was their mother. We’ve conversed on multiple occasions, we know each other well. Baby is finally in utero – just about ready to arrive! The journey has been incredible – the end teaching me the greatest lessons of humbleness, patience, and how to adjust.
In the last moments of pregnancy, life can be a whirlwind. So many hormones flowing, so many emotions being felt, and all the bodily changes that we see come with it. Everything is uncertain, things are changing, and we have no control over when or exactly how the ride will go. We know the dynamic in the home will soon change, because no one is pregnant forever – we just cannot know when. We are waiting on a delivery with no guaranteed “delivered by” date. What a learning experience!
It leaves many women open and vulnerable, myself included. The end of pregnancy is a part of birth, if you ask me. An important part of the transition to motherhood – be it baby number 1 or number 9. I am a different person in this transition season, going through the shifting of hormones, and seeing so many bodily changes. It’s only the beginning of the transformation that will occur on birthing day and there forward!
My body is adjusting to this new life we will live with, a new very dependent infant. My mind is waking my body in the night, giving me energy and alertness – all on its own. It is preparing me for the days I will need to wake with a nursing infant. How neat that my body knows to wake me, and get used to waking, in order to prepare for this transition! My uterus is contracting, regularly, practicing for the big marathon we will take on in a matter of days/weeks. My body is doing all the things necessary to efficiently bring my baby to me.
I’m so over pregnancy, if we are being honest. I am huge, my stretch marks are changing colors, and showing in places they never have. I can’t get comfortable often at all, my body aches, and I’m just as tired as a newborn – I swear. I am failing at keeping up with housework, my patience as a mother is insanely low, I am easily annoyed/angered/bothered. These are all normal feelings, and I know that. Worldly stresses are a huge contribution to this. Trying to keep up with normal life while in this vulnerable phase of waiting is hard! I’ve been cutting out energies left and right to help. Social media and the energy that it offers, communication with most people, and interactions outside of my home have been removed entirely. I am trying to preserve my mentality the best I can as we are in this transition. In this time of “When is this baby going to come?”, I am trying to be positive and enjoy as much as I can.
I find myself sitting, looking down at my 40 week gestation belly, watching this fully developed infant wiggle around. I’ve never been pregnant this long before, this is new territory for me. I am trying my best to enjoy this intimate and vulnerable time in pregnancy. I will miss this belly – I will miss the flips, kicks, and hiccups one day. I try to pay attention to and note all of the changes I am experiencing. The discharge, the heat flashes, the lack of patience, the change in bowl movements, feeling nauseous, waking in the night, all of the things that happen in the end of pregnancy. I’m trying to enjoy all that this journey has to offer. I’m trying my best to stop thinking about “when?” and replace it with enjoying the “NOW”.
It is definitely a learning experience, as all pregnancies have been for me. Each one with a different lesson to offer. This pregnancy has taught me so much humility, patience, and showed me the kind of mother I am, and what changes need to be made so I can improve. This has been the most transformative pregnancy thus far, out of 4. As this child’s spirit has told me before conception, this pregnancy and birth will change me. This spirit child has not failed to keep their promise! I have transformed drastically and will continue to in our journey through birth and postpartum.
I may be tired and “ready” but I appreciate and enjoy the journey. I am thankful for all of the lessons of patience and slowing down time. I am most thankful for the ability to enjoy the “NOW”, disregarding the man-made calendar as we pass 40 weeks. I will meet my spirit baby soon, whatever ‘soon’ is for this little one.
That’s a great choice! There are many great midwives that serve women all across the world. They usually serve in a more natural-minded manner, and know more about physiological birth than their obstetric counterparts.
When you go about hiring a midwife, it is important to be aware that they are not one size fits all. They are each very different, will practice differently, will have different views on what physiological birth is, and not all midwives are ideal for YOU.
When choosing a midwife, be aware that most are limited in how they can serve you, due to state laws. Most licensed midwives will not serve you completely autonomously without risking the loss of their license; which is sad – but important to be aware of, as many women are not. There are also midwives that are not bound by legalities and can serve you completely autonomously. These women are often considered Traditional or ‘underground’ midwives.
I’ve also heard of licensed midwives who are willing to bend rules and fudge numbers to ensure a safe, out of facility delivery – making you the number one priority.
Be sure you know who you have along for your journey before hiring!
Questions for Your Midwife
1. What does a physiological home birth look like to you?
Some may have a more medical version of home birth in mind with monitoring vitals, checking the cervix, and so on. Some will have a more natural flowing version where medical monitoring/assisting only occurs when needed.
2. How often do you need to monitor baby?
In some states, licensed Midwives are required to monitor baby every few minutes. This can be an unnecessary bother during labor. If this is something you’d like to avoid, be sure your midwife is able to support your choice of limited monitoring.
3. Are cervical checks ever required, if so, how many?
Most women do not enjoy cervical checks during labor. They can be hindering during labor and are 100% unnecessary. If your birth plan is to avoid cervical checks, be sure to discuss this, as some may require them.
4. What could cause me to ‘risk-out’ of your care?
Closer to the end of pregnancy, many women are shocked when their provider tells them they’ve “risked out” of care. This means you are no longer a client and they will no longer serve you. Some midwives will risk you out for silly reasons, such as baby being breech, solely to protect their license. Be sure you are aware of every situation that could risk you out of their care before signing a contract.
5. What would necessitate a transfer during labor?
During labor, your midwife can choose to transfer you. Transfer is necessary in some situations! Unfortunately, some will choose to do so for unnecessary reasons and without warning. Of course, you can refuse transfer, but they may be required to call 911 before they leave – this then becomes your issue to deal with while you are vulnerable. Some will transfer for silly reasons such as two slightly elevated blood pressure readings, baby being breech, or “failure to progress”. Be sure you are aware of all scenarios your provider will transfer for, before labor. It is important to also discuss what you will do in the case of a suggested unnecessary transfer. Will you stay home and continue with delivery or will you do as she suggests? This should all be discussed prior to laboring day.
It’s comforting to believe that all home birth midwives have your best interest at heart, but this unfortunately is not always the case. Those are a few questions that might be able to help you decipher if she is more concerned about you or licensure.
A few things you could do to protect yourself if your midwife drops you or suggests unnecessary transfer would be:
Do not pay in full until the deadline of payment.
Be informed on your state’s midwifery laws and the legalities surrounding.
Have a plan of what you will do in the case she drops you out of care.
Discuss each unnecessary transfer scenario and what you and your partner would do if she made the suggestion to transfer.
Discuss with your midwife prior to labor what you will do if she feels she needs to leave your birth to protect her license. Discuss each situation and scenario.
Make sure there is a refund policy in your contract, be sure you agree with it.
Be sure your partner and/or Doula are in the loop with all of the above because they will be the ones you look to for support if your midwife drops you or suggests transfer. Everyone involved should know what would cause you to “risk out” of care, as well as what might necessitate a transfer. No need for surprises on laboring day!
I’ve heard too many stories where a home birth midwife left a woman hanging, mostly for unnecessary reasons. Most times, the woman was unaware that their midwife could abandon them like they did. Most did not get any amount of refund, and many were left with traumatic births. This is what drove me to create this article. Women in their childbearing years need to be aware that this can happen. They need to know what questions to ask and how to decipher if the potential midwife is a good fit, prior to signing a contract and paying in full. She can be a sweetheart and say she supports, you but there is more to it than that.
Again, not all midwives are the same. It’s important to acknowledge that there are a few snakes in the grass. Many midwives will have your best interest at heart, will bend silly rules for you, and put you before themselves – be sure the woman you hire is one! There are amazing midwives out there, you just have to look! Keep in mind, if your midwife is driven by the law, that is exactly what she will deliver.