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What is a lotus birth? – Risks and Benefits

All about Lotus Birth

What is a lotus birth? – Risks and Benefits of Lotus Birth

The lotus birth method changes the dynamics of normal postpartum umbilical cord treatment altogether. Normally, it is a common practice for the doctor to sever the umbilical cord immediately (or sometimes a few seconds after) a mother gives birth to a newborn baby. At this point, the placenta is detached from the baby and the remaining part of the cord tied into a knot, which then falls on its own soon after birth.

Lotus birth (umbilical non-severance) involves leaving the baby attached to the placenta and letting the umbilical cord dry and detach on its own. This process can take 3-10 days but can vary depending on humidity levels and climate. 

Typically, the placenta is wrapped in fabric or kept in a bowl, where it is treated with herbs such as lavender and rosemary to help dry it and reduce odor. And while still an uncommon practice, lotus birth is slowly gaining traction as an alternative birthing method among mothers. 

Worth noting here is that lotus birth is different from delayed cord clamping: In lotus birth, the placenta and the baby are attached for several days. In delayed cord clamping, on the other hand, the doctor waits for 30-60 seconds before cutting the cord, instead of the normal 15-20 seconds. 

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What is a lotus birth? - Risks and Benefits

Benefits Of Lotus Birth

Lotus births are yet to be validated by medical experts since there is insufficient medical evidence to support them. However, advocates of this birthing method argue that it has several benefits to the baby. Some of them include: 

Blood circulation

By not severing the umbilical cord, blood flow from the mother to the baby is not disrupted. This helps maintain blood circulation and ensures the baby continues to receive nutrients. It also improves body temperatures, the immune system, red blood cell count, and brain development. It has also been shown to facilitate the absorption of stem cells found inside the umbilical cord. 

No open wounds mean less infection risk 

In ancient medical practices, people left the placenta attached to the baby to prevent infections from having an open wound, since babies are more susceptible to infections due to their undeveloped immune system. Leaving the umbilical cord attached to the placenta reduces the risk of infections, ensuring the baby is safe from diseases. 

Postpartum healing 

With a baby still attached to the placenta, mothers are forced to move slowly and carefully, which is necessary during the healing process. This works for the benefit of the mother and the baby as well, and makes sure that they both recover properly with minimal disruptions. 

Emotional wellbeing  

Proponents of lotus birth argue that leaving the baby attached to the placenta after birth offsets the trauma that babies experience from this transition. As babies come into the world, they interact with an environment full of noises and light, which contrasts with what they are used to. This can cause trauma and affect their emotional wellbeing. Lotus birth helps ease the transition by reinforcing the gentleness of natural childbirth. 

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What is a lotus birth? - Risks and Benefits

Risks Of Lotus Birth 

Most medical organizations do not support lotus birth as an alternative birthing method. For instance, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Pregnancy Association does not mention it on their websites, which only proves that it is yet to gain support from medical fraternities. Here are the risks associated with lotus birth

  • Infection – The placenta and umbilical cord become dead tissue after birth, which means they are prone to bacterial overgrowth and infections. Having a decaying organ attached to the baby poses a significant risk to their health, which exceeds any potential benefits. 
  • Injury – Mothers are instructed to be careful with their movements since the baby is still attached to the placenta. In case of an accident, say the mother slips, the umbilical cord can tear, leading to injuries on the baby. 
  • Sepsis – Sepsis is a serious condition that results from the presence of harmful organisms in the blood and tissues. Babies are extremely vulnerable to this condition due to their weak immune system, which is often a high risk with lotus birth. 
  • Inconvenience – It is difficult to move around or do anything with your baby attached to the placenta. Considering that it can last up to two weeks, this practice may not be very practical and convenient. 
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What is a lotus birth? - Risks and Benefits
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Taking Care Of The Placenta     

As mentioned, lotus births can cause serious health risks to the baby, and mothers are advised to take extra care when handling their babies during this period. If you choose to follow the lotus childbirth route, here are steps to take to keep your baby safe from infections: 

  • Rinse the placenta with water and wrap it in a clean, absorbent fabric
  • Be sure to wash it daily with clean water to remove blood clots and bacteria
  • Keep it stored in a clean bowl or pot
  • Dress it in herbs and salt to eliminate the odor and speed up the drying process
  • Keep an eye on the placenta for bacteria and accidental code tearing
  • Dress the baby in open and loose clothes that won’t affect the umbilical cord 
  • Ensure the placenta is near the baby to avoid it causing tension when the baby moves
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When To Seek Medical Attention

It is recommendable to make an appointment with your doctor within three days after birth even if you don’t have any notable health concerns. Be sure to seek medical attention if you notice any of the following signs: 

  • Red, warm, or swelling near the umbilical area
  • Fluid-filled lump around the umbilical area
  • A fever greater than 100.4 F
  • Irritability, trouble feeding, or decreased activity 
  • Damages to the placenta 
  • Irregular feeding (typically less than 8-12 feeding with three stools) within the first three days
  • Foul-smelling discharge coming from the umbilical cord area

The Takeaway & Conclusion on Lotus Birth

Since the lotus birth method is not well studied and, therefore, its safety is not guaranteed, it is important that you proceed with great caution. Keep in mind that it can expose your baby to health risks such as infections if ultimate care is not taken. But if it is the process you have chosen for your childbirth, talk to your doctor to advise you on the best way to minimize risks and ensure you do it as safely as possible.

Lotus Birth Videos & Information

Medical Disclaimer

The information contained in this post is for general information purposes only.
What is a lotus birth? - Risks and Benefits is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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