Lotus birth or umbilical non-severance is the practice of leaving the umbilical cord uncut after the baby is born. The cord remains connected to the placenta and the baby until it drops off by itself, which usually happens after 3-10 days. A large number of women are opting for Lotus birth and are choosing to leave their newborn baby’s umbilical cord attached.
Why is it called ‘Lotus Birth’
Like the lotus flower, the umbilical cord stalk that rises out of the placenta has many similarities with the lotus leaf pad and stem. Like the umbilical cord, the fresh lotus stem is very strong and flexible. The lotus leaf has similar lacy vein patterns like that of the placenta. Some animals like chimpanzees in nature allow their babies’ placenta to fall off on their own.
What is done during Birth?
When the baby is born, the placenta is kept at the same level as the baby. This allows for full transfusion of nutrient-rich blood and hormones to the baby. The placenta is often just wrapped in a soft cloth or glass vessel near the mother during the first hours of bonding after the completed birth.
The placenta is then cleaned to remove clots and then is placed in a special bowl or wrapped in a ceremonial cloth. As a method of preservation, during the drying period, powdered herbs such as Lavender, Rosemary or Tulsi is applied to the placenta. Sea salt is also applied on both sides to aid drying and minimize the bad smell. Most people find that covering the placenta is more convenient and cord detaches often by the 3rd postpartum day leaving a perfect navel.
“According to those who follow and advocate lotus birth, this practice facilitates an intense bond between mother and child, far more than the usual contact brought by nursing and cuddling”
Dr Sarah Buckley, the author of Gentle Birth, encourages lotus birth as she claims it “ensures close mother-baby contact in the hours after birth”, and “discourages others, including medical staff, from unnecessarily removing the baby”.
Benefits of Lotus Birth
• Lotus Birth ensures that the baby receives the full amount of oxygen-carrying highly nutritious blood from the cord.
• The infant gets an additional 40 to 60 ml of ‘extra’ blood from the placenta
• Babies born through Lotus birth don’t usually lose the weight and they are less likely to have breastfeeding jaundice
• Babies are found to be more relaxed, peaceful, healthy and happier than their counterparts whose cords are immediately cut
Another side to it: Risk of infection for the baby is high as the placenta is a Dead Tissue
The main issue with Lotus birth, according to doctors is that one side of the placenta is an open wound and the placenta is essentially a dead flesh. So if it is not dried out and treated properly it can decompose, smell and attract flies, and possibly lead to serious infection. Doctors clearly warn women who opt for lotus birth, to monitor their babies carefully for any signs of infection.