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.

Lunch bag zippered  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.

Help for disappearing nipples

Help for disappearing nipples

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). cord_bander_300 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.

25 thoughts on “MIDWIFERY TRICKS

  1. I love, love, love the rubber band umbilical cord bander. It’s so much more comfortable to live with.

    Have you ever put together a bag of soothing herbs for the first woman’s post-partum tub soak? I’m definitely trying that if I ever give birth again. It usually starts with comfrey.

  2. I love the idea of washing your hands when you arrive at a birth. What a great way to slow down the pace and connect with the intention of being fully present for the birth.

    Thanks for this list Gloria!

  3. i had soft nipples, that is why bfing was so hard at first, and painful. but I am too stubborn to quit.

    I found the cold on my vulva really intense after birth, but since I had no tearing it wasn’t painful at on its own. But a warm cloth would have been so nice.

  4. Great tips! I need to go and buy a bunch of those tap adaptors …. Another thing I carry in my bag are some post-natal bath herbs. They a nice touch of pampering for the post-natal mama. I got the idea from Blessed Herbs but now I make up my own little baggies from locally-sourced herbs such as lavendar, sage, comfrey, rosemary, uva ursi, calendula and sea salt. We use the herbal liquid in the peri-squeeze bottles as well as straight in the bath.

    I like the idea of the post-natal tea. I am on stand-by for a mama having baby #6, she often has strong after-pains and I think that tea for multis might be nice for her – we’ll try it.

  5. I have one of those “disappearing nipples”. For me it’s become clear that wearing a bra exacerbates the effect hugely. (And also makes me far more vulnerable to thrush.)

  6. I enjoyed this so much! We just had moms for whom we wished we had nipple shields,and sink adaptors. The idea of warmth makes perfect sense! It seems lovely to spend time thinking of ways to make the postpartum experience nicer for moms.

  7. I know they make the ones that plug into the car cigarette lighter but what’s the good of that, Jas? Then, you have to navigate a big inflatable device through the doorway. Better to get one that plugs into the wall. Also, to make your life really work as a waterbirthinwoman, you HAVE to own a sump pump. Pumps all the water out of the pool in under an hour, straight down the toilet, no drafts, no windows open, no siphoning, no problem in basement suites—the sump pump changed my life!

  8. Gloria, thank you so much for the Lotus Birth with Placentophagy tip! My husband and I did a lotus birth with our youngest two children and believe very strongly in its benefits for the baby. However, I also tend toward postpartum depression, in addition to my clinical depression. My midwife has recommended that we do encapsulation the next time around, and while I see definite benefits for me, I have been extremely reluctant to put myself ahead of my children on the priority list. I was overjoyed when I read your suggestion (Thank you, also, to the Peaceful Birth Project for passing it along!) and immediately sent it to my midwife, who was, I think, more excited about it than I was. We definitely plan to do this with our next baby. I’ll try to remember to let you know how it goes. 🙂

  9. I love the cord bander and use it exclusively. It is much, much simpler than the cord bands with the tab, which are easy to misplace, and sometimes you wind up pulling on the cord too much as you are placing them. However, there is some misinformation out there as to it’s origin. It was patented in 1964 by Averbach as a human umbilical cord bander, but it never really caught on until midwives started using it.

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  11. wow!!! women have been asking me alot if they can do both the lotus birth and encapsulation and i was torn about it myself for my next baby, but now…you have answered this question!!! does it really work? i would miss the ritual of the sea salt and herbs like i did with my 1st lotus birth, but way worth it to use it as medicine. thank you, gloria! you rock!!! ! <3

  12. I just wanted to say that raw potato shredded is an awesome postpartum compress for ANY complaint or discomfort. It is naturally anti-inflammatory & works wonders not just on postpartum swelling but on hemorrhoids. It was wonderful after my last birth,. I wish I would have known after my first. My rectal pain far outweighs any other postpartum discomfort I have & this takes away alllll of it. It is wonderful & so easy. Just wash, shred & you are ready to go.

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  14. Great tips Gloria!

    Raw potato saved me when I had mastitis. It is messy and the potato juice stains fabric, but it draws the infection out through the skin – no antibiotics needed!

  15. What a great idea to wash hands first- so simple!! And a sump pump would’ve been handy!

    Another water birthing tip: our midwife birthed with a family who were Baptist. When the birth pool started getting cool, he popped over to his church to borrow the submersible water heater (like a tong thing that you hold in the water). She ended up getting one for herself and it works like magic- so quick!! She just borrows a broom to suspend it from in the plastic pool and turns it on.

    Regarding cord clamping, my 2 home birthed bubs didn’t have plastic clamps, but one had a gorgeous “friendship band” plaited out of cotton (by Lisa Barrett) and the other had a beautiful purple ribbon. I have kept both for their baby books.

  16. Great ideas though the rubber bands are better than the hard plastic clamps I encourage mothers to make their own loving cord ties. Here in NZ the Maori tradition is to use Muka the fibre striped from the flax plant, which has bactericial propperties also! Tap adaptors still can leak, not fit all taps or need a lot of fiddling about; cutting the end off the hose and using syphonage of the water flowing into a bowl in the sink is less fiddly, all that is required is to tape the hose securely to the side of the sink. Using 3 or more pieces of hose in the bowl going to the pool fills it even faster!

  17. Hi Gloria. I am very impressed with the cooly bag for the placenta. I’m supposing that you have found it good for the baby. We once tried putting a baby’s placenta on ice (22years ago!) and the baby screamed so I’ve presumed to initially wash it in warm water and then keep it at room temperature ever since. With the development of the encapsulating of the placenta there are often questions about Lotus Birth. People have been doing both and it seems to work.

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