When birthing a child, doctors usually clamp and cut the umbilical cord attached to the baby a minute after they come out. However, a practice called lotus birth, or umbilical non-severance, changes the process. Here, the baby is delivered with the placenta and umbilical still attached. Is this non-traditional birth method safe? What are the lotus birth risks and benefits?
What is Lotus Birth?
Lotus birth is a birthing process wherein the baby is delivered with the placenta and umbilical cord. The baby, placenta, and umbilical cord are kept together until the umbilical cord eventually dries up. The cord detaches itself naturally from the baby’s navel after three to 10 days.
Lotus birth is similar to delayed cord clamping (DCC), where the umbilical cord is not clamped or cut immediately after birth. However, in DCC, it only takes one to three minutes for the process to conclude.
In the process of lotus birth, the placenta is kept attached to the newborn. During this time, the placenta will continue to deliver blood to the baby until it runs dry.
In a lotus birth, the placenta is left to dry. It is rubbed with salt and herbs like rosemary and thyme to mask the odor and to quicken the drying process.
Before deciding whether to do a lotus birth, it is recommended to ask your trusted medical provider if you and your baby are healthy enough to engage in the process.
The procedure of lotus birth is as follows:
1. Deliver the baby and the placenta consecutively without clamping and cutting the umbilical cord. If the umbilical cord is wrapped around the newborn’s neck, gently unwrap it and continue with the process.
2. Once the umbilical cord stops pulsing, clean the placenta with warm water, and dry it using an absorbent organic fabric. Leave the placenta for about 24 hours to drain completely.
3. The placenta requires regular maintenance to prevent infection and other lotus birth risks. Keep the placenta in a basket or pot, while covered in salt and herbs (rosemary, thyme, lavender). You may also place the placenta in a cloth diaper or a clean bag. Make sure to sanitize and replace the basket or the bags daily.
4. Dress your baby in loose and comfortable clothes to avoid the tugging of the umbilical cord. This will also help the circulation of air that is essential for the cord and placenta to dry up properly and to fall off naturally.
Lotus birth is a more spiritual approach when it comes to giving birth. It aims to honor the sacred relationship between the newborn, the placenta, and the umbilical cord. However, there are some real benefits to the approach. These include:
- Extra oxygenated blood in the placenta can backflow to the newborn without disrupting the blood volume. It helps with the red blood cell count, improves blood circulation and immune system, aids with brain development, as well as maintains body temperature.
- It reduces the risk of infection as there is no open wound. With lotus birth, you may prevent getting infection since the umbilical cord was not cut.
- The transition of the baby from the womb to the outside world is gentler. With lotus birth, the umbilical cord gives comfort to your newborn as it adjusts to the world outside the womb.
- Perfectly healed navel. Letting the umbilical cord dry up and fall off naturally after a few days helps the navel to heal well.
- It provides time for the mother and newborn to enjoy the first few days of birth. Lotus birth gives the mother and child some downtime to recover and to spend a few days adjusting to the new life. With the placenta still attached to the baby, the mother can take things slow and act more carefully.
Lotus Birth Risks
Every kind of birthing process has risks. However, since the lotus birth is a “newer,” non-traditional approach, more research is needed to ensure its safety. Here are some risks to consider should you prefer a lotus birth.
- Once the placenta is out of the womb, blood flow to the placenta will cease. Thus, the placenta will begin to wither. It is considered dead tissue. Therefore, it becomes more prone to infection. If you choose to have a lotus birth, you and your partner must keep an eye on your newborn for infection, as well as provide proper maintenance to the placenta.
- Cord avulsion occurs when the umbilical cord is accidentally pulled off from the baby’s navel (usually during water birth).
- Lotus birth will not be possible if the umbilical cord gets damaged or snapped during delivery.
If the placenta is emitting a foul odor, has discoloration, and looks unsafe while still attached to your newborn, call your doctor right away for immediate medical attention.
Lotus birth can be a wonderful experience for the parents and the newborn.
Although lotus birth still needs more scientific research and study, parents have the freedom to do it with guidance from a lotus birth expert.
Always remember to consult your OBGYN and the midwife who is going to assist you when giving birth (if you prefer home births). Undergoing precautionary measures before lotus birth will help secure you and your baby’s safety.
Learn more about Pregnancy here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.