I had an unassisted home-lotus-hypno-birth in the toilet (again!) on 24 Feb 2010. I'm addicted to receiving my own babies, haha. It was fast (2+ hours, excluding the long wait for the placenta), easy, painless, peaceful and almost zero-cost (if not for the RM2 police report). Baby was 3.25kg. All pink and pretty. We did lotus birth, i.e. leaving the cord intact. We stayed with the placenta for 5 days until the cord dropped off naturally. Here is the long story...
The Unplanned but Timely Pregnancy
My hubby has been wanting an ox-year (2009) baby, so we have been on the 'project' for months but I just didn't feel ready. One morning in June, I woke up and looking at my two sleeping angels, I suddenly felt that I could handle just one more and had a mental picture of my 'three' children playing together. Voila, I hit the 'jackpot' that month. So, this baby is planned, although didn't come as planned, it was a timely pregnancy.
Another smooth and easy pregnancy. I had one and only ultrasound scan around 22 weeks to know the position of the placenta. And 3 antenatal checkups at 3rd trimesters with klinik kesihatan. I was confident that my baby will be happy and healthy as I took good care of myself and her. Both my children were very excited over the little sister in my belly. "Boy's hand so big, can carry mei-mei (sister)," announced my 3yo boy. "I can bathe mei-mei," said my 6yo girl. A lot of loving kisses from the siblings for this little one.
I had 3 wishes for my birth:
- I wished that baby would be born with her membrane/sac intact like Joanne's birth.
- I wished that my hubby and children would be there to welcome baby.
- I wished for a short labour. My 1st birth was about 12 hours, 2nd birth 6 hours. So, I think a 3 hours labour is not too much to ask for.
We were hoping baby would share the same birthday as her brother (23 Feb). But my son was down with fever on 22 Feb. I instinctively knew 23 Feb would not be the labour day. My son recovered on 23 Feb to enjoy his birthday cake.
The Distracting Labour
On 24 Feb early morning, I woke up after a refreshing downpour, sensing something would happen... Later, I had the birth show, with barely noticeable surges. I kept the excitement to myself. A pregnant mummy-friend dropped by with her lovely girls in the afternoon, bringing delicious lunch and yummy Chinese New Year cookies. They left around 3pm. I had a restful nap, finished the leftover lunch, then started cleaning up the house, in preparation for baby's arrival. Surges were getting stronger. Called hubby to get dinner for the kids (and sandwiches for me), made arrangement with the cleaning maid, gathered my gym ball, Rainbow CD, pillows... and finally I could settle down for birthing. It was 7pm.
By 7:30pm, everyone was at home. The kids were occupied with pc games. Occationally they would come and check on me. In dim light, I worked with every surge, flowing with the rhythm of labour. I find that moving my body in a spiral motion helps ease the surges. I kept myself well hydrated and cleared my bladder often. As surges got closer and more intense, I got on fours, leaning on my gym ball and gently rocked my pelvis. The surges weren't painful but being able to move the intense energy concentrated at the lower back felt really good. This was the 1st time I laboured during 'normal' hours (my previous labours were at midnight.) It was much more distracting - I could hear my kids arguing over my pc... and hubby cleaning the toilet. It was also less convenient - I didn't have exclusive right to the use of toilet.
Around 8:20pm, I started to feel the urge to bear down. So soon?! I found it rather unbelievable. After breathing through a few very close long intense (but not painful) surges, I decided to try toilet sitting for comfort. When I sat there, I felt something bulging at the perineum and instinctively got on fours on the floor. What the... It was wet!!! Grrr... mentally kicking my hubby, I struggled to keep my balance. The labour took a pause. When the surges returned, I was ready. Just when I felt the head on the perineum, I stilled myself and just 'savoured' the sensation of baby's soft warm body passing through... every inch of her... I didn't feel the membrane release but my hubby, who was sitting outside the toilet, said he heard dripping sound.
The First Encounter
I reached down with 1 hand (needed the other hand to support myself in all-four position). Not sure which part of baby I caught... I think half of her landed on the floor (I was very low to the ground), which caused her to protest a little. She got quiet when I scoped her up with both hands. The first thing I saw was her lovely face half veiled by whittish membrane and the long cord beautifully wrapped around her neck. She was born with her sac!!! She opened her eyes and looked right at me. Then she looked quietly at her siblings who were excitedly asking 1001 questions. It was 9:15pm. At 9:30pm, a friend from Penang called. "Have you delivered?" she asked. Distracting birth...
The placenta took its own sweet time to make appearance - 1 hour 45 mins. We even have time to clean the toilet (which was surprisingly not bloody) while waiting. I breastfed baby, changed positions - sitting, squatting, standing... nothing seemed to work. And my kids kept asking if baby can come out now wasn't helping. Finally I sat on the toilet seat, the air was starting to get stuffy, I said to baby, "please help mama get the placenta out..." Baby suddenly went very still and silent, staring at me... and slowly, I could feel the placenta coming out... Sigh, I should have asked earlier and saved all the sweating.
After hubby took baby and placenta (placed on a metal tray) out to the living room, I took a nice, warm, refreshing shower... at 11pm. We wanted to invite the klinik nurse but the clinic was closed. Feeling very energetic and high, I had my sandwiches as supper and a cup of hot milo. Nobody was sleepy and we all admired the new member of our family. Then we cleaned the placenta and placed it on a rattan tray (over the metal tray) to air dry. We decided to do lotus birth - nonseverance of the umbilical cord. I like the idea that no scissors or sharp object needed for childbirth. And I trust that baby would let it go when she is ready. Baby was very alert. We all settled into bed finally at 2am!
The next day, the nurses came over to take measurement of baby. They couldn't become witness of birth as we didn't allow them to cut the cord (strange reason but..). So, hubby has to make an RM2 police report for the processing of birth certificate.
Baby fulfilled all my birthing dreams. Baby is very calm, very communicative and sleeps through the night. No colic, no jaundice (probably very slight.) Everything felt so natural... so simple, so right... I think this is what nature indended birth to be. I realised birth isn't about me at all. It's about welcoming a new life, a soul, into this world, gently, lovingly and harmlessly.
The Lotus Birth
I was inspired by Sher Li's beautiful lotus birth. According to the book 'Sacred Birthing' by Sunni Karl, baby and the placenta share the same auric/energetic field. By not severing the cord, we keep baby's aura whole, upholding her energy field and honours baby's connection with her placenta. We allow her to take her time to birth into this world, releasing her connection to the womb (i.e. placenta) when she is ready. The placenta is very easy to maintain but lotus birth could potentially be difficult and troublesome without the commitment and willingness to carry it through.
In preparation for lotus birth, I bought 175g (7 packets of 25g) of organic rosemary herbs for preservation of the placenta. The shop owner then kindly helped me blend them into fine powder. Rosemary is antibacterial, anti-fungal and a drying agent. It is preferred over salt as, according to the book, salt interferes with the energetic transference and tends to absorb humidity in the air, causing placenta to rot instead of dry. Actually, 175g was more than enough. Probably 125g would do.
After birth and after everyone has settled down, we began to work on the placenta. We washed it in a bowl of very warm water to remove any blood stain. We then placed it carefully on a rattan tray, to air-dry, over a metal tray to catch any dripping water (the book suggested to pat dry with towel). When baby needed to be moved, we moved as three (2 persons to carry baby and placenta). I breastfed her in a lying down position, placing the placenta on the other side of her. The cord was soft and pliable.
The next day, after baby's first bath in the afternoon (I held the placenta besides the tub while baby was bathed), we coated it generously and completely with rosemary powder. According to the book, the cord should also be coated with rosemary powder all the way up to the umbilicus/belly button, to assist in drying, but that slipped my mind until 2-3 days later. Throughout the day, we sprinkled the placenta with rosemary and turned the placenta over a few more times. The metal tray kept the mess off the bed. I was surprised at baby's sensitivity and awareness to our handling of her placenta.
The rosemary worked its magic - the cord and placenta were drying up nicely. On day 3, the placenta began to emit an ammonia smell but it wasn't bothersome. The scent of the rosemary was stronger. We noticed baby's umbilicus was a little reddish and pus-like. According to Dr. Sarah Buckley, it's due to action of bacterias eating away at the cord, thus augmenting the separation process. There wasn't much activity involving baby. Baby was contented, enjoying the companionship of her placenta. We appreciated the tranquility.
On day 4, we transferred the placenta, which was much lighter now, to a smaller rattan tray for ease of handling. We continued to dust it with rosemary, once a day. We also sprinkled some on the umbilicus. Big sister and little brother bonded with baby in their own way, respecting the placenta with gentle handling. On day 5, the cord was hard, bristle but unbreakable... like wire. The placenta was still a little damp. I was told that it'll take a few weeks for it to be completely dry. I began to sense a little impatience in me, wanting to dance with her and introduce her around the house.
On the evening of day 6, before breastfeeding, I tempted baby, "if you kick off your cord, papa will be able to craddle you." Guess what, right after nursing, as I was about to place her back onto the bed, the cord came off!!! Hmm.. why didn't I thought of asking earlier?! Everyone was so excited. It felt like another celebration. We buried the placenta in our garden the next day, thanking it for nurturing baby and returning it back to Mother Earth.
The lotus birth has been a very enriching experience for us. It brought forth a new level of awareness of the time after birth - it slows it down. As we immersed in the stillness and serenity of our home, the placenta seems to hold the space for baby to settled into our world unhurriedly. We noticed a wonderful sense of 'wholeness' about baby - she was totally contented and at ease with herself. So calm and 'complete'. Lotus birth has gifted us the power to reclaim the 3rd stage of birth for baby and ourselves, and to preserve the integrity and divine essence of a whole being. To me, it's simply a logical extension of a gentle birth.