What Is A Lotus Birth? Is It Safe?

Lotus births are an uncommon practice where the baby stays attached to the placenta by the umbilical cord until it falls off naturally.
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When a baby is born, one of the first things that happens is the clamping and cutting of the newborn umbilical cord.

Recently, some parents have been questioning the traditional process of separating the baby from the placenta. This has taken rise to what is known as a 'lotus birth'.  

If you find this article all about lotus birth pros and cons useful, check out our articles on [licorice root pregnancy risks] and [safe ways to work out after a C-section].

What Is A Lotus Birth?

Also known as umbilical non severance, the lotus birth is a practice where the newborn stays connected to the placenta. After the mother gives birth, the umbilical cord is not cut, leaving the child attached to the placenta until the cord falls off naturally. This is thought to take about three to ten days, but there is very little research in the area to prove this.

The practice was brought to the public eye in the '70s after it was documented in apes. Instead of cutting the umbilical cord, these animals allow it to fall off naturally. While you can leave the placenta attached until the umbilical cord falls off, there is no research to prove that this is beneficial for long periods of time and it can also pose risks to the child.

Mothers can have a lotus birth in both a vaginal delivery and a Cesarean section. Placenta delivery can occur anywhere between five to 60 minutes after childbirth. After the baby is born, the placenta will need to be put in a sterilized place. It is worth nothing that some women can't birth their own placentas due to various complications. This includes the cervix closing after the child is born, meaning the placenta can no longer pass through, or if the placenta is attached too tightly to the uterus. It is also possible for parts of the placenta to either break off or stay attached to the uterus. In these cases, a lotus birth may not be an option.

Taking Care Of The Placenta At Home

If a mother decides to have a lotus birth, the placenta will need to be taken care of at home. Some parents suggest putting salt and herbs on the placenta and dead tissue as it starts to dry out. Salt can help speed up the drying process and herbs help to cover the smell. Supporters of the practice say that salt and herb mixes should be changed daily.

Keeping the cord and placenta well maintained after birth is very important to avoid any risk of infection. You can purchase a lotus birth placenta bag for keeping the placenta in. Parents should wrap the placenta in a nappy or cloth before placing it in the lotus birth bag, and this should be changed at least daily.

It's important that you talk to your doctor about the possible risks if you are thinking of having a lotus birth. If you do decide to have a lotus birth, it is also important that you consult a health professional with experience in this practice.

What Are The Benefits Of A Lotus Birth?

Most health organizations encourage delayed cord clamping after a baby is born. Leaving a newborn baby attached to the placenta by the umbilical cord for a short period of time after birth can help to improve immune function, circulation, and iron levels. The American College of Nurse-Midwives has said that the length of time a newborn should remain attached to its placenta has been debated for years but most health professionals encourage somewhere between 30 seconds to three minutes. At this point, the cord is clamped to stop the blood flow and then severed, separating the baby from the placenta. Some moms have taken it a step further and decided to leave the cord attached until it falls off on its own, believing there to be benefits to this lotus birth practice.

Delayed cord clamping of a few seconds or minutes is proven to be beneficial to the health of the baby.

Increase Blood Circulation

Not cutting the cord immediately after birth can help to improve blood circulation and prevent anemia. Research has also shown that delayed cord clamping can increase hemoglobin levels, red blood cell volume, and iron stores in both full-term and premature babies. Fans of lotus births believe that a lotus birth allows a complete placental blood transfer, however, there is no research to prove this.

Strengthen Immune System

Mothers that have had lotus births believe it strengthens the immune system of the newborn and can even prevent bowel infections.

Maintain Connection Between Baby And Placenta

Supporters of lotus births say that because the fetus and the placenta form from the same cells, artificially severing the ties between the two can impact the health of the child. For some, it is a spiritual practice that honors the connection between the child and the placenta as this is its life source in the womb.

Help Ease The Baby Out Of The Womb

A lotus birth is thought to be a way for the child to transition more easily from the womb and placenta into the arms of mom and dad. Some mothers who have had lotus births report that their newborn shows fewer signs of stress and is more serene after birthing.

Strengthen Bond With Baby

Some mothers have reported that the experience of a lotus birth has left them feeling closer to their baby.

What Are The Risks Of A Lotus Birth?

There is no scientific proof that there are any improved benefits to leaving the baby, cord, and placenta attached for a longer period of time than 30 seconds to three minutes. In fact, there are actually quite a few risks that can come from leaving the umbilical cord attached. Even extended attachment of a few hours poses these risks to your baby, let alone days or weeks. So, many health experts don't recommend lotus births.

Lotus births can put your baby's health at risk, leaving them susceptible to infections and other complications.

Risk Of Infection

According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, one of the biggest lotus birth risks is infection. Not cutting the cord can leave the placenta, umbilicus, and newborn at risk of infection. During delivery, the placenta is often exposed to bacteria, leaving it prone to infection and, if the dead tissue gets infected, this infection can spread to the baby through the umbilicus.

Anemia

If you decide to have a home lotus birth, you must be very careful maneuvering the baby in relation to the placenta. If you lift the baby swiftly up while the placenta is at a lower level, this can cause blood to flow towards to placenta, leaving the baby with a loss of blood.

Nuchal Cords

When the umbilical cord wraps around the baby's neck, it is called a nuchal cord. Nuchal cords are fairly common, but they often don't present a major risk for your baby during pregnancy or birth. However, having a lotus birth or delayed cord clamping is difficult if the umbilical cord is wrapped tightly around your baby's neck. If the cord is too tight around the baby's neck and cannot be slipped over the head, the doctor or midwife will have to clamp and cut it before the baby is fully delivered.

Jaundice

There may be a link between lotus births and neonatal idiopathic hepatitis in newborn babies which is a form of prolonged jaundice.

There is not a lot of lotus birth evidence-based info to determine if it is a safe birthing practice or to prove the potential lotus birth benefits. So, it's important to speak to your doctor or midwife for more information before choosing to have a full lotus birth or partial lotus birth in hospital or at home.

If you found this article helpful, then why not take a look at [tongue and lip ties] or [mommy and me yoga] too?

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