The Power of the Placenta with Dr Robyn Thompson

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In the video above, Chelsea Kerley (first time mother, based in the UK) interviews Dr Robyn Thompson (experienced midwife and founder of The Thompson Method) about the power of the amazing placenta.  

The 3 main points of discussion are:

  1. Delayed cord clamping
  2. The Nuchal Cord
  3. Lotus Birth

The following is an edited transcript of the conversation.  Please watch the video above for the full interview, or Watch it on Facebook here >>>

Chelsea 

Do you know how incredible your placenta is?  Today, we're going to share three important factors about the placenta and the umbilical cord. And today's show is public so you can tag your friends and pop this on your page to spread some pregnancy love with your loved ones. I'm really sorry about the tech difficulties, guys, if you've been waiting for the show to start, we seem to have had a lot of trouble getting online with the software that we use. And these things we just can't control. So I am joined with the lovely Dr Robyn Thompson who's going to share her expertise. So the power of the placenta Robyn, I feel like there is a huge lack of knowledge surrounding this topic, I know that I have lots to learn, and I've already birthed one child. So, let's start with the first important factor that I think you will love to discuss. And I love to hear from you. What about delayed cord clamping?

Dr Robyn 

Speaking from a midwife point of view because there'll be various approaches to the placenta but from my experience over many years, delayed cord clamping way back in my early midwifery days wasn't really regarded as something important. They were changing, cutting the cord early back then in my experience, because they thought babies were becoming jaundice because they were leaving the cord flow for too long. In actual fact, they didn't take into consideration the vitamin K, Hep B and all the other things that babies were given that may have an effect on the metabolic processing of those things. But delayed cord clamping has since changed back. So you could probably say it's the 50 year turnaround, like a lot of things, because the baby is continuing receiving the placental flow. So the baby's red blood cells, all the nourishment the baby is still getting until the placenta is ready to separate. And when that takes place, you see changes take place. So delay cord clamping in healthy, normal circumstances - it may be different in a circumstance where there's an urgent or an emergency situation, either for the baby or the mother, or both. And so, I don't think things are hard and fast.  I think the decisions that are made if they need to be, otherwise don't interfere.  Decisions are based on being in the moment and what's happening then, maybe some previous knowledge, maybe some family history, but more so in the moment. And so you deal with the things as they happen and sometimes that's necessary. 

Dr Robyn 

So how important is delayed cord clamping? Well, I think it's very important for the baby to receive the blood flow that it requires until the flow from placenta through the cord has stopped. And that then is the process of the third stage beginning.  So the baby's just born, still receiving the beautiful flow from the mother, not able to drink the liquor (the amniotic fluid) anymore.  So all of those things I think come together as one very important process under healthy normal conditions.  So delayed cord clamping means not cutting the cord, not interfering with the cord, not clamping the cord but just letting the process happen with the midwife taking care to observe and to note what's going on and to see when you delay the cord clamping what signs are there.  What signs are given to you by being observant quietly, not touching unless necessary, observing when the placental flow is slowing and finishing.  You can see the cord changing and it starts to become thin, so the blood flow through the two arteries in the vein is now slowing down.  The cord thins down and becomes white because the flow is changing. And then you just wait and then the mother tells you by her behaviour, her sounds or however she chooses to speak with you, that she can feel the placenta descending. So and there's a process. There's always a process that goes on. And it's all, from my point of view, pretty magical how it all works.

 Chelsea 

That's definitely completely different to my experience. I actually requested delayed cord clamping. And I feel like the process almost relied on my lack of knowledge, because now that I know a little bit more about it and following your resources here, the cord was not white, when we were asked if we wanted to cut it. And I hadn't birthed the placenta yet either. So that's really, really interesting. I'm sure everyone will agree. It's also magical. So what about the nuchal cord and when it's wrapped around the baby's neck? Is that how you pronounce it, Robyn?

Dr Robyn 

The cord can be around the baby's neck, around the baby's arm, around the body. I've had one woman who had five loops of cord around the baby's body, and she had a beautiful birth, no major problems, but she did go to her hands and knees to give birth. So that's how she felt most comfortable.  I've seen cord around the neck as a baby's being born in the water. So just gently loosening it so that it doesn't pull tight. And then when the baby was born, you could see it was around the baby's body.  So in this case, I was gently rolling the baby as it come to the mother through the water. And it unraveled the cord.  And again, there's no there's no one way for any woman at all.  It depends on the circumstances.  Actually, cord presentation is a more difficult situation, or cord compression is another difficult situation where each contraction a mother has compresses the cord. If the cord is tight around the neck, that's a problem too, because you'll see changes in the baby's heart rate. And the trigger for that is that if you see a drop in the heart rate at the peak of every contraction, and it's slow to recover, then your first knowledge is cord involvement. Now how that's involved, we don't know. But as a young midwife, I called for help from one of the senior midwives.  They came in, knew exactly what to do, I was asked to, with the woman's consent, hold the baby's head back off the cord because the cord was presenting in front of the head, which meant that once I was involved, I really couldn't let that little baby's head go with the next contraction. So it became an emergency. So I went on the trolley with her and held the baby's head all the way to the lift and down to the operating room and stayed there until the surgeon was ready. And then they did Caesarean section on that little baby. So that was a very young, early experience for me. Of course, I've had many, many experiences, but that was one.  Nuchal cord, wrapping.   But then there's the knot in the cord, there can be a false knot, which is not a real knot, or there can be a true knot. And I've seen lots of true knots over the years that haven't caused a problem. So again, you don't know until the moment.  It's a moment-by-moment thing, it's not something that you can always predict. This is how you learn.  You become a skilled midwife and you learn all of those things as you go along and how to deal with those things and of course any compression on the cord means try changing positions, in the meantime, if you require help, while help is coming. I don't know what the statistics are on all of these things on Nuchal Cord. I don't know what the statistics are worldwide on knots in the cord. I just know what I've seen and how I've worked with it. And honestly, I've never had a major problem. I've had a colleague who had a home birth with me, she picked up the cord, she held it and said, "Look at this Rob, it's a true knot."  So, we've got a little picture of her true knot in her hand with her baby. 

Chelsea 

I'm sure everyone else would love to see that if we could dig it out.  It is truly amazing that you shared that experience because it's quite common for women to be rushed into surgery with the nuchal cord because obviously it does, as you say, lower the heart rate of the baby because they get everything including the oxygen from that. So that's something I've always wondered.

Dr Robyn 

It doesn't always do that.  Sometimes you won't know till the baby's born and I'm not sure that ultrasound is always accurate either. That's a new invention compared to what I used to work with. I didn't work with ultrasound back then. But you do get used to hearing, observing, and being sure that you're in tune with that woman all the time.

Chelsea 

I'm sure that's answered lots of questions for women certainly made it clearer for me. So the topic that is quite a big topic at the moment, Robyn, and maybe it's just a phrase, maybe you're familiar with the phrase, I'm not sure how modern it is, but Lotus birthing, you touched upon it, when we discussed delayed cord clamping. What is Lotus birthing? What does it mean to you? And is it beneficial to women and their newborn baby?

Dr Robyn 

Lotus birth is when the placenta and the cord is born, and we don't do anything.  We're not giving oxytocin because she's not bleeding heavily. And then the cord stays attached to the baby. So we don't actually move the cord, remove the cord, cut the cord at all. Again, I have to talk about my experience.  In my experience, the cord came off fairly quickly. It would separate within about three days, but it not a set three days. Nothing's that mathematical. But on an average, you'd see it starting to separate. And the mother has the placenta with her all the time with the baby. And she might have it in a little bag. Sometimes they cover it with salt.  And Lotus birth is one of the calmest less interventionist ways of giving birth.  I have seen a couple who forgot about their placenta, it was in a bowl, and it was sitting at the window. And had been there for about five days. And suddenly the partner said, oh, gosh, look, forgot about this. And so we had a look at it. And it was perfect. If it had deteriorated in any way, it wasn't obvious unless you were to look through a microscope. But it was absolutely perfect. So he then took it and buried it in his spice garden. And I have been to other beautiful ceremonies where people take the placenta and bury it.  As a midwife, I used to love looking at the placenta, and I still do.  There's a placental site that I go to, Patricia Edmonds in the USA runs that site. And it's just magic, watching the different placentas and things that we were taught that were abnormal, were turning out not to be a problem for a lot of women too. So looking at the shape, where the vessels come, how the membranes are attached, any infarcted areas, meaning white areas, a whole range of things like that you can see on the placenta by checking it.  And we used to have to check it thoroughly and document what we found as well, in the in the maternal record.

Chelsea 

I find this fascinating because I tried to do a little bit of research before beginning the show, because I wanted to have a sort of foundation of knowledge so that I understood because not only is it scientific, but there's almost so much knowledge around it that for different cultures, there's a different approach to the Lotus Birth. It's fascinating. So my understanding is that you birth the placenta was it's so attached to baby through the umbilical cord and the process that follows is quite natural.  Robyn, does the umbilical cord get cut?

Dr Robyn 

No, it separates from the baby's umbilicus.  It separates from there.  We don't cut it.  It separates from there when it's ready and it's carried with the baby. So it's probably in a little bag and carried however the mother feels comfortable carrying it. And it separates when it's ready. And so then the umbilicus starts to form a scab inside, where the attachment was, and however it separates, whether it separates when it's been clamped or cut as well. And that little scab takes around 10 days to come off. And on the 10th day, this is my experience again with the women that I home birthed with was there would be a little bleed from the umbilicus.  You'd see it on the nappy where the scab had come off and then the mother would have a little bleed as well at the same time. So that was the shedding of the fimbriated ends which have now created, you could say, like a scab inside the uterus, in the fundus of the uterus or wherever the placenta was. And then it's obviously the shedding of that, end of that separation is around the 10th day she would bleed as well. So it was quite fascinating watching that, and then reassuring people, and of course, keeping an eye on the blood loss making sure it's not a lot of blood loss, because you can have what what's referred to as retained products of conception, membrane pieces, or parts of the placenta that haven't come and then you can experience heavy bleeding.  You may or may not, they might just shed that.  There may be some clots, but you've got to be really careful that you watch, and you listen to the woman and whatever she tells you, especially if she's gone home and you're in hospital, and she rings you.  It's very, very important to know what's happening. So then knowing a little bit further back, what happened with her birth is also very important at that stage too.

Chelsea 

And I suppose that factor could also be reflected for those that haven't had a Lotus Birth. And you have to be very aware and observe those those things as well. So those that's not solely reliant on a Lotus Birth.

Dr Robyn 

Not just the Lotus birth, no the cord will separate with that little scab from inside the umbilicus, it's from inside that that happens. But the Lotus Birth is very gentle.  It's very much what a mother wants to do. It's not what we want to do. It's about what she needs to do. And it's very gentle, very calm most of the time. In fact, I haven't seen a problem with a Lotus Birth in my experience.

Chelsea 

So, Robyn, I've picked your brains with those three quite common and quite controversial topics at the moment. We like those controversial topics don't we. Do you have anything you'd like to add on the amazingness of the placenta or the umbilical cord. 

Dr Robyn 

Oh look at when I think about how in most circumstances, not all but the placenta's fimbriated ends embed into the uterus, we say the fundus, but sometimes it embeds a bit lower. And again, it depends where it is, as well. But when the placenta is coming down, you can just imagine that these are now letting go. And there's bleeding going on. Of course, there's bleeding going on, because they're coming away from the fundus of the uterus inside. And so what happens then, is it forms a clot over the the maternal side of the placenta. And that clot with the contraction of the uterus is compressing and compressing. And that's what helps stop the bleeding. So we don't need to push and rub too much.  Well certainly you don't rub a mother's uterus until the placenta is born. And then I like to teach her to do that, not for me to do it. Because I have seen some very painful episodes of women who've been having their fundus rubbed to try and contract the uterus to stop the bleeding and it's been so painful that they've cried. And I don't do that to anybody.

Chelsea 

That seems to be more common than the likes of a Lotus Birth, a more common process, I experienced painful pressure. And I had to say, no, that hurts. Yeah, it's a shame that that is the process.

Dr Robyn 

Not everybody does that, of course, it's about the uterus contracting to reduce the bleeding.  We have to have a certain amount of blood loss because the blood coming through the placenta can't go back into the maternal cardiovascular system, because it'll just overload it. So it has to go and it's meant to have some bleeding. And you know, they put mathematics on it. But one of my best obstetrician colleagues used to say to me, look at the woman, Robyn, look at her size, look at her as a person and then evaluate what you think is reasonable. So, he taught me that a long time ago.  He also observed me practising a couple of homebirths and he's sitting in the corner with his hands under his thighs and later on, I said, Why were you sitting like that?  He said, "The UK midwives told me to sit on my hands".  That was his response!

Dr Robyn 

Don't get involved unless you really have to, but he was one of the most reliable complementary communicative Obstetricians that I ever knew.  There were a few but he was one of them that was very, very precious to women, and very, very learned for me. So it is a magic organ, you think about the volume of blood that it puts through and the nutrients, everything that it carries, the immunity that the babies get through the maternal placenta, going through the system and back through the system and doing that for the whole of a wonderful pregnancy. It's just brilliant.

Chelsea 

I hope you've all enjoyed us having a moment to pick Dr Robyn's incredible brain and sharing her knowledge with the world. I know that I'm feeling a lot more informed. Dr Robyn Thompson is the founder of The Thompson Method which is becoming a worldwide movement because of her extremely gentle and informative approach, which is empowering women like myself worldwide.  I'm here in the UK.  Welcome to our incredible community. And thank you again, Dr. Robyn, for sharing this with us.

Dr Robyn 

I wish you all the best, happy birthing stay strong, and my suggestion is that it's in your good time, not in institutional time.  It's your body and your baby.

♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡

If you would like to get breastfeeding off the best possible start, download Dr Robyn’s ‘Gentle Guide Towards Pain-Free Breastfeeding’ => Download it here

If you've found this blog post and Dr Robyn's live interview to be helpful, you may like to join our free Facebook Group to learn more about what's possible with the Thompson Method for your birth and breastfeeding journey.

And of course, click the video about if you'd like to watch the full interview.

To learn more about the Dr Robyn’s online program and support group, visit => https://www.thethompsonmethod.com/breastfeeding-course

From all of us at The Thompson Method team, happy birthing & happy breastfeeding.

♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡


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Get to Know Us
Our Mission
The Thompson Method
The 3 Golden Hours
Dr Robyn
Reviews

Programs
Pregnant
Breastfeeding
Professional
Hospital
Success Stories

Other Resources
Help Centre
Download App
Blog
Contact
Login



Need to speak to someone: call 
Joanne Thompson on +61 419 315 948. Or Private Message on facebook


Privacy Policy    |    Terms Of Use    |    Medical Disclaimer

Copyright © Dr Robyn Thompson. All Rights Reserved.

Made with  🖤  by 4Good Pty Ltd.