LOTUS Birth with PLACENTOPHAGY: for the client who wants EVERYTHING, buy a new thermal lunch bag with a zipper closing around the top. Buy six freezer cold packs that will fit well into the thermal lunch bag. Have two packs in the freezer at all times. Soon after the placenta is birthed, create a little mini-fridge for it by putting one frozen pack on the bottom of the bag, then the placenta, then the second frozen pack and, then, do up the zipper with just the cord coming out of the corner of the zipped up bag.
As soon as the cord separates (typically day 4 or 5), dehydrate and encapsulate the red, meaty parts from the maternal side of the placenta. You’ll know the placenta has been kept fresh by the smell i.e. it should smell like fresh meat.
CLEARING for the birth: let anyone who is attending the birth know that they should wash their hands as the first order of business when they arrive at the home. This hand washing is for cleanliness of the body, but it is also a way to meditate on washing clean the outer world so that the person can blend into the birth scene in an unobtrusive way. Wash away the story of the trip over, the road conditions, the weather, any family business that got in the way of coming, anything heard on the radio, etc, etc, etc. Become an empty clean vessel, ready to serve the birth without fuss or show once the hand washing is complete.
HEAT for a burning vulva: after the birth, your client may complain of an intense burning feeling of the vulva area. Frozen pads are often applied. In Chinese Medicine, the rule is “never put cold on a new mother or baby”. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the best remedy is to put very hot facecloth compresses on the area. The woman will get instant relief.
Additional info on using heat to soothe a post partum vulva from Gail Hart, a wonderful homebirth midwife from Portland, Oregon. Gail posted this to Facebook and gave me permission to add it to this post. Thanks, Gail.
“I was taught cold and ice would reduce swelling. And that ONLY COLD/Ice COULD reduce it – and that, without cold packs, women would suffer with swelling for hours or days. I was taught that heat would increase the swelling and pain. hot packs would swell up the labia like water balloons.
Then, around 1980, I did a birth for a Hmong family and when I brought a cold pack to the new mom, you should have seen the reaction from the family! They gave me a very stern – but still polite — lecture on the damage an icepack could cause and that only HEAT could be used with new moms.
SO I brought mom a hot pack and put in on this VERY swollen bottom and small tear…. And I cringed, certain of disaster.
But I was amazed to check, in only about a half hour, to see that most of the swelling was gone, and the small tear which I had been thinking of stitching was almost gone.
I do offer women both because this is the expectation in the U.S.
But I am a convert to the use of hot packs.
If it is an air birth, I just use the birth hot packs.
Otherwise, it only takes a few minutes to make one up.
Almost every woman will say a pack feels good, whether it is cold or hot.
I believed women LOVED the cold packs, and would probably hate hot ones… until I tried them.”
end of Gail Hart’s quote
ROPING the membranes: if the placenta is birthed outside the woman’s body and there is still a trail of membranes remaining in the vagina, turn the placenta over and over (it’s like turning a large piece of pizza dough over and over) in the same direction in order to make a stronger “rope” out of the membranes. This rope will have more chance of coming out complete.
If some membranes are left inside the vagina, they will usually appear at the introitus in the first 24 hours as a bit of smelly “something” that the mother can feel when she wipes. With the woman sitting at the edge of the toilet seat, grasp the membrane with a curved hemostat and, again, turn the hemostat handle over and over in the same direction until you have formed another (smaller) rope and gently guide the tissue out of the woman while she bears down slightly.
EXTRA tap adaptors: If you’re attending water births on a regular basis, buy 4 or 5 hose to tap adaptors at the hardware store so that you’re never without one. They only cost about $4 and it’s hard to get one at 2:00 a.m. You might forget to take it off as you leave one home and they can get lost in other ways, too.
BREAST SHELLS: these little doughnut shaped plastic bra inserts can make all the difference for certain women. They are for the woman who has a soft nipple that doesn’t stay firm when the baby roots. I call it “the case of the disappearing nipple syndrome” and it seems to happen a lot. The shells can be purchased for about $14 per set and you can get them back and re-use them once the mother is confident about nursing.
UMBILICAL CORD BANDER: this is one of my favourite inventions. View it here. Instead of a bulky plastic clamp on the baby’s belly, there is an almost imperceptible little rubber band. It doesn’t get bumped, you don’t ever remove it, and there is way less environmental waste with this method. As a nice bonus, it’s cheaper, in the long run, for the midwife, too. ($95 for the instrument and $12 for a hundred bands). It works like a charm. Apply the cord bander with the curve away from the baby’s belly and about 2 inches away from the baby. The stump left will dry and shrink in the first 24 hours and you don’t want to get the elastic anywhere near the baby’s skin when it catapults off the bander.
POST PARTUM TEAS: women need warming inside and out immediately after giving birth. Prepare the teas in advance of the birth so that the herbs will have time to steep. Leafy herbs should never be boiled, just pour boiling water over the herbs and allow them to sit. Barks and roots do get boiled.
Tea for primips (women giving birth for the first time): Shepherd’s purse, motherwort and cinnamon. One tablespoon of the two herbs in a large teapot (4-5 Cup). One teaspoon of powdered cinnamon. Pour boiling water over, cover and let stand 45 minutes. Strain tea into a mug, put in a bendy straw and add some honey or maple syrup. Stir well and serve once you’ve tested to make sure it’s not too hot to drink through the straw.
Tea for multips (women who have had more than one pregnancy): Crampbark and cinnamon. Put two tablespoons of crampbark and a 2 inch broken piece of cinnamon bark in 5 Cups of boiling water. Turn heat to low and let the two barks simmer for 45 minutes or longer. Strain and serve as above.
It’s a good idea to get the mug, a spoon, the strainer, the sweetener and the bendable straw all together on the kitchen counter so that one of the attendants can get the warm tea quickly as soon as the baby is out.