Making prints of lotus-born placenta

Guest post by Sazz

When I said that you shouldn’t agree with everything you see on Offbeat Families, I meant it … and that includes me! This particular post falls outside my comfort zone, but it’s a concept that some of you will likely find fascinating. -Ariel

placenta prints

Harriet was lotus born. Mama and Daddy chose to give Harriet a lotus birth because they saw it as the natural progression of the birth experience for those opposed to interventions. Lotus birth babies have two birth days, they have the day that they were born into the world from Mama’s womb and they have the day that their umbilical cord and placenta naturally detached from their belly button. You can read the lotus transition of her birth here.

This year Harri celebrated her first birthday and her first lotus bith anniversary. To honour and reflect upon Harriet’s lotus transition Mama and Daddy made artworks using Harriet and Mama’s defrosted placenta.

Last year when her placenta and cord detached Daddy removed the brittle dried part of the cord, wrapped the rest of the placenta and cord in plastic wrap and placed it at the back of the freezer to keep. We had planned to defrost it and plant it in a pot with a tree of some kind at Harriet’s naming day. But, when the time came it didn’t feel right to plant the placenta that day at that ceremony. Since then we found out about placenta prints and decided to make some on Harri’s first lotus birth day. We removed her placenta from the freezer and it defrosted throughout the day.

Then we removed the plastic wrap and found that even though the placenta had been dry when we froze it last year, it was now once again bloody and perfect for making some blood prints.

Because we weren’t sure if our placenta would have any blood left to make the traditional blood placenta prints we prepared ourselves to make paint on canvas prints of Harriet’s womb sister instead.

It was a very moving and personal experience, making prints with the organ that once lived inside Mama with Harriet and kept Harriet alive. Did you know that at the beginning of conception the placenta and baby share the same cells, until the separate around day 9? The placenta could have been the baby and vice versa. It is lovely to have two pieces of art which pay homage to our lotus birth.

We highly recommend placenta prints to any family who have lotus births or any family who have an appreciation for the placenta, pregnancy and unhindered birth.

Comments on Making prints of lotus-born placenta

  1. I’m pretty pro-hospital-birth and all that, but the idea of saving the placenta and umbilical cord really draws me! I guess I just see it as part of my body-positivity.

  2. Woah! I had no idea about the placenta and the 9 day thing!
    The placenta is awesome!
    I wanted to keep my daughter’s, but I kept being teased about it!
    Planting it in a pot with a tree would have been so sweet…

  3. I’m not far enough into that side of the offbeat range to have a lotus birth but find it cool that some parents choose to do so. I do find the placenta to be very sacred and meaningful to me and plan to have my placenta encapsulated and take the pills post partum.

  4. i have always wondered about the placenta and cutting the umbilical cord. i never knew if cutting the cord was something we just did, or if it was because of risk of infection or blood loss. i dont think i could do it myself but this was very intresting and answered a lot of my questions abot placentas.

    • I think there is a risk of infection though presumably it’s low enough: also I’d say it’s just the convenience factor too! There is also a risk of infection from cutting the cord if it’s done with an unclean instrument.

      • On convenience I actually found it to be really convenient in the sense that it slowed us down. I still rushed myself to get up and get on with life before my body was really ready, I shudder to think how much faster I would’ve rushed if we weren’t lotus birthing. All I needed to be doing was snuggling up with my newborn and feeding her, lotus birthing was convenient to that 🙂 It’s also great for keeping visitors away in those tumultous early days as breastfeeding is being established.

        As for infection, if you know some resources on this I’d like to see them. There’s not been much (or any) discussion in the resources I’ve read over the years (the best of which are Sarah Buckley’s article and chapter in Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering and Shivam Rachana’s “Lotus Birth” book). From my perspective there’s less risk of infection with not interfering as opposed to cutting/removing before it would happen naturally, but I have no more proof of that than those who say “lotus birth risks infection” do. It’s essentially the same thing in the belly buttons of all newborns: a bit of dried cord, it’s just lotus babies have a placenta at the end of the cord, but within a day or so the cord is so dry that there’s no more transferrance of blood to the baby, so I’m not clear on what about it might make it riskier, iykwim?

  5. And my OB thought I was weird for wanting to see the placenta…..

    I can’t say that doing this really interests me, but it sure would have been interesting if we did. My son’s cord stump didn’t fall off for 7 weeks. Yes, you read that right, seven WEEKS. Apparently his cord was very firmly attached, and he had a bit of a granuloma when it finally did fall off.

    • I wish I had looked at mine — I couldn’t even tell you when it came out, I was so engrossed in watching them with the baby. It must’ve happened fairly quickly; the doctor wasn’t down there very long.

    • I knew we wanted to keep our placenta to plant under a tree, but I didn’t really think anything more about it. My midwife showed it to me sometime in the hour after birth. She said it was perfect and that it had some calcification, so you could tell it was starting to age. It was very smooth on one side, and textured on the other.

      The placenta is still in the freezer, and I’m thinking of planting it on Aspen’s first birthday.

  6. Amazing. I used my placenta to do traditional blood prints a few months ago and plan to do it again before we plant our daughters placenta. Its a beautiful reminder of such an important part of your child’s existence.

    • We did the traditional prints of my 2nd child’s placenta. The print is the basis for a huge tree tattoo on my back – the artist followed the lines on the print.

  7. As I have not given birth… I don’t know, so this may be a dumb question.
    Does their belly button look any different when it’s healed than one where the umbilical cord is cut? Isn’t there normally a little clamp or something on the end when the cord is cut? Very interesting to read, thank you for sharing

    • Their belly buttons don’t look any different. When cords are cut they’re not cut at the belly button, but back a bit, a bit of cord is left attached to their belly button which dries up over the first week of life and falls off, just the same as a lotus child.

  8. Very interesting!

    Like others said, it’s not for me, but I always used to feel sad for the placentas being packed away while I witnessed births as a med student, they really are amazing organs! I’d definitely want to see and have a poke at mine if I sprog

  9. I just read your birth story on your blog, and I must say that it is ALL so BEAUTIFUL!
    I love the idea of a “birth sibling”! It’s very comforting to me, to know that my daughter had her placenta.

    Thank you for your wonderful story!

  10. i don’t think i could do the lotus birth but i’ve had friends do it. i did, however, encapsulate mine and take the pills. i also encapsulated a friends and just the look of the placenta is very amazing. to know your body grows such a thing blows my mind.

  11. 1. Way cool 2. I wont do the lotus part, but only because I’m going to encapsulate my placenta 3. I was very surprised to read that this was a new idea for Ariel, I was so sure you would have heard of it with your mother being a midwife- surely she had at least one mama do this??

  12. I have never heard of this! Nor did I know that the placenta and the baby where once the same thing, it makes me appreciate the placenta a whole lot more!!!
    I love Offbeat Mama because I get to learn so many new things!!!
    I’m not sure if I would ever do a lotus birth myself, and seeing as we haven’t heard anything from a midwife I’m not even sure I will get my home birth… but that is a whole lot of worrying and ranting for another day, but it scares me so much that I will have to give birth at a hospital, where they won’t even tell me the sex of my unborn child >.<.
    I love the idea of making a print and always having it. The capsules are also an awesome idea, although I'm not sure if I could ever take them, knowing that it was once in me. I'll probably just end up taking a picture of it.

    It wasn't until Offbeat Mama and reading the different posts that I realize how important and meaningful the placenta is. It's pretty incredible.

  13. Okay, I was so fascinated by this and particularly the linked websites claims that chimpanzees do not detach the imbicical cord that I asked my Friend the Primatologist about it. Strangely enough, he knew all about lotus birth. It is apparently something that Primatologist, especially those in Berkeley, get ask about a lot. He said that while Dr. Jane Goodall has observed chimps who carry around the baby avec placenta, somethings for days, in general most animals, chimps and non-chimp alike, who have placentas detach the placenta and then bury or eat the placenta as quickly as possible. They can’t have the smell of blood and rotting flesh around as it might attract predators. My friend then postulated that people opt for lotus births because they think they are more natural than severing the cord, because it seems less violent, less traumatic. My friend than said, “But nature IS violent and birth is supposed to be traumatic.”(I am still deciding how much of that I agree with but it’s interesting, no?)

    Which lead me to think, what is crazy about the whole medicalization of birth is that in countering it, we have sometimes moved beyond nature to a sort of super-natural birth. Totally cool if that’s what you want to do. I just find the whole thing fascinating.

  14. Fascinating. I home-birthed my second daughter and after that experience would never do it any other way. I see much value in keeping birth as natural as possible.

    I was around animal births a lot as a child and the mother typically cut the cord soon after birth (as an animal it was typically the teeth used to do the cutting). I’m with the commenter above, I see it both ways.

    What I love most is that every person can make their own decision about it.

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