What Is A Lotus Birth
Most people know that giving birth can be pretty painful, but few realize just how intense labor actually is until they’ve experienced it themselves. When you’re in active labor, your contractions are very strong and regular, even if they feel like they aren’t progressing quickly enough or going far enough. And while most women experience a lot of pain during childbirth, others go through what’s known as “the silent labor.” That’s because their pain has been so well hidden by medication, exhaustion, and other factors that it goes unnoticed.
It might surprise you to learn there’s another type of labor called a “lotus” birth. This happens when the umbilical cord is left attached to the placenta – instead of being clamped and cut – until it falls away on its own. This means the baby stays connected to the placenta for longer than with a typical birth. It usually takes around 5-15 days for this to happen.
The term “lotus birth” comes from ancient China where practitioners of traditional medicine used it to describe the labor process. The Chinese believed that keeping the umbilical cord attached to the placenta would help ensure both mother and child lived long enough to see the next lunar cycle begin. In addition to ensuring longevity, some believe that leaving the umbilical cord attached to the placenta also helps prevent hemorrhaging after birth.
There are many reasons why doctors recommend clamping an infant’s umbilical cord immediately after birth. One reason is that blood flowing out of the placenta could cause harm to the baby. Since the umbilical cord carries all the nutrients needed for fetal development, any excess amount of red blood cells may slow down lung development, which could result in respiratory problems later on. Also, since the umbilical cord provides oxygenated blood to the baby, cutting it off too soon can deprive him/her of important nourishment and hinder his/her ability to breathe properly. Cutting the cord early also prevents the baby from getting the full benefit of amniotic fluid, which protects against infection.
However, not everyone agrees with these recommendations. Some argue that there isn’t conclusive evidence that clamping the cord right away is necessary. Other experts say that waiting to clamp the cord allows the blood supply to continue without interruption and thus facilitates faster recovery times. But regardless of whether or not you agree with current medical guidelines, knowing about the option of a lotus birth will give you peace of mind in case you need one.
So what exactly does a lotus birth look like? According to Dr. James G. Bartlett, author of the book Childbirth Without Fear, “In a normal delivery, the obstetrician pulls up on the cord (or pushes downward) to cut it. With a lotus birth, he merely touches the end of the cord with a finger, then leaves it alone. He pulls gently upward on the cord only once every 12 hours (on the dot), often only pulling it half an inch (1 cm). If the cord becomes accidentally separated, he doesn’t try to fix it; rather, he simply waits for it to fall off by itself. After two to three weeks, if no separation occurs, he stops the routine entirely.”
This method sounds similar to what mothers who have given birth vaginally report experiencing. For instance, according to one woman interviewed by Dr. Bartlett, she had her first lotus birth at home on July 1st, 2012. At 4:40 p.m., she felt a sudden sharp pain in her lower abdomen and was rushed to the hospital where she gave birth vaginally five minutes later. She described the birth process as “excruciatingly painful,” saying that she felt as though her body were trying to tear apart. She added that it took over 20 minutes for her to push the baby out.
Dr. Bartlett reports that although the technique works well for vaginal births, it doesn’t work well for C-sections. Why? Because since C-section babies must be kept under anesthesia, they cannot feel pressure on their bodies. So unlike vaginal deliveries, which are mostly monitored via the mother’s perceptions, C-section patients don’t know if their wounds are healing correctly or not. An additional concern relates to the fact that C-section patients are more likely to bleed excessively than vaginal birth patients. As such, the risks associated with bleeding are higher for C-section patients compared to those who have delivered vaginally.
One thing worth noting is that a number of hospitals now offer lotus birth services to their patients. There are currently over 50 hospitals offering this service across the United States. These include: Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Mayo Clinic, University of California Davis Medical Center, Stanford University Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine, and Duke University Health System.
If you decide to opt for a lotus birth, make sure you discuss it with your health care provider before delivery. While it may seem counterintuitive to wait to cut the cord, doing so may increase the risk of excessive bleeding. You should also consider the possibility of postpartum depression if you experience severe pain during labor. It’s common for new moms to become depressed after having a baby due to physical and emotional changes. However, postpartum depression is different than clinical depression. Symptoms of PPD typically appear within the first year after giving birth, whereas symptoms of clinical depression emerge years after pregnancy.
Also, if you do choose to have a lotus birth, make sure you prepare yourself mentally beforehand. You’ll want to take lots of time to relax and get ready for a natural childbirth. You’ll also want to talk things over with your partner, family members, and friends. They can provide invaluable support throughout labor, especially in helping you cope with pain and anxiety.
For more information on the topic of lotus births, check out the links below.
While a lot of research focuses on the benefits of epidural anesthesia, studies show that spinal anesthesia can reduce the risk of maternal mortality and morbidity. Spinal anesthesia is administered using small doses of local anesthetic injected into the subarachnoid space between the vertebrae.
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