Before I did this blog about stupidity in the world, I did one about stupidity in parenting. And now I’ve come across a trend that would fit very nicely into either.
The trend is called “Lotus Birth” among its practitioners, or “umbilical non-severence” among doctors, or “lunacy” among sane people.
According to an article in The New York Post, in Lotus Birth, the father is not allowed to perform the ritual cutting of the umbilical cord. So far, so good, as many fathers would prefer to leave the post-natal cutting to professionals like doctors, nurses and mohels.*
But here’s where the craziness comes in: nobody cuts the cord. It’s left attached until it falls off naturally.
This maybe doesn’t sound so bad until you follow the cord to the other end. It’s not plugged into a wall outlet, or even a USB port. It’s connected to the placenta. This means that all your first experiences with baby are accompanied by what appears to be a serving of the strawberry jello mold your mother used to make with the chunks of stuff floating in it. This is even more disgusting than it sounds when you consider what hospitals usually serve for dessert.
Why is this Lotus Birth a good idea? The article quotes a midwife named Mary Ceallaigh who says that the practice respects “all of what a woman conceives, not just part of it.” Yeah, well a woman conceived The Twilight Saga and I don’t respect that, either. So there!
According to the article:
“While the placenta remains attached, it’s kept in a nice cloth, and the cord is wrapped in silk or cotton ribbon.”
I’m envisioning a business opportunity here: personalized placenta cloths and cord wraps. Or maybe Ralph Lauren can come up with something that has the logo of the little guy on the horse swinging an umbilical cord.
Well, okay, so you leave everything attached like the tags on a mattress, and then you take your baby home and, of course, some relative is waiting when you arrive to snap the photo of the young parents and their new baby and their bowl of red glop. Because, you see, it takes three days or so for the umbilical cord to drop off by itself, so you’ll be taking the placenta home with you.
In case you’re thinking that the house might start getting a little pungent, you’ll be happy to know that the odor is limited to a “slight, musky smell” for the first few days. Beyond that…well, I’m thinking you might as well have a baby skunk.
Well, first of all, don’t misquote me. I said “three days or so.” If you happen to live in a warm, humid climate, the “or so” could be as many as seven additional days, so you might as well get used to having that afterbirth around for quite awhile after birth!
And besides, even if the cord does fall off quickly, there’s always the chance that the mother will bond with the placenta and want to keep it around for awhile. If you think that’s strange, keep in mind that this is the same person who still has a petrified slice of wedding cake stashed in your freezer.
Seriously, though, according to the article, some mothers are reluctant to let the placenta go. That’s right; instead of testing the limits of their garbage disposal, they keep the wrapped placenta in a “special place in their bedroom.”
I’ll tell you this: wherever that placenta is kept is going to be a special place, because nobody will be going near that place again. Especially since…
“…if it has not had a salt or herbal treatment and its cloth isn’t changed, it will start to smell gamey, indeed. But the kind of terrible, stinky, decayed smell that some fear is a non-issue when proper procedures are followed. The only time that sort of thing happens is if the placenta is wrapped in a plastic wrap or sealed in a Tupperware container— that is a whole other situation, and not a good one, as the placenta will rot before it dries.”
This raises several important questions:
- Is there another business opportunity here for a new line of Tupperware?
- “Salt or herbal treatment?” What are we doing, making pickled placenta? You want your placenta to have a salt or herbal treatment, take it to a spa, don’t erect a shrine in your bedroom.
- Can’t you keep the placenta in a “special place” in the refrigerator, like behind the week-old Chinese food which, by the way, may also rot before it dries?
- Or better yet, what about in the freezer, next to the wedding cake?
- How do young parents divide up the chores? “Honey, you change the diapers, I’ll change the placenta cloth.” Don’t new parents worry enough about taking care of the baby without also having to take care of the placenta?
I should point out here that, if you have a Lotus Birth, you cannot also engage in placentophagy, which is another hot trend. That’s when the mother eats the placenta, possibly after floating some chunks of fruit in it. The two practices are not compatible because you really should only consume fresh placenta and the umbilical cord usually doesn’t fall off until after the placenta’s “use by” date.
The parents who are into these trends are probably the same ones who breast feed their babies until they go to college. “Natural is better,” they say. They point to what other mammals do in the wild, and that humanity survived for thousands of years without cutting umbilical cords or using baby formula.
That may be true. But humanity also survived for thousands of years without cell phones, and you rarely see mammals in the wild using them. So which would you rather hold onto, your placenta of your phone?
See you soon.
*A mohel is the Jewish guy who goes around circumcising babies in an elaborate ceremony that absolutely horrifies every male in the room.