Lotus Birth: Is It Beneficial or Dangerous?

In a Lotus delivery, the umbilical cord is left connected to the baby after birth until it dries and separates naturally. Its name came after Clair Lotus who saw that chimpanzees did not separate the placenta from the newborn. This technique is thought to have existed historically and is rising in popularity on TikTok. But is it beneficial? What are the drawbacks?

Key takeaways:
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    In a Lotus birth, the placenta and umbilical cord are left connected to the baby until its natural separation.
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    This technique has no benefits that would be proved by scientific research.
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    According to research, Lotus birth is associated with a higher risk of infection.
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    Delayed cord clamping is preferred by the medical community.

Lotus delivery process

There is no specific way to preserve the placenta that is medically recommended, therefore people do it differently.

Typically, the placenta is cleaned after birth. Some parents opt to leave the placenta open to the air while others prepare it with salt, herbs, or essential oils and retain it in a placenta bag or material that absorbs moisture.

Depending on how wet the placenta is, some people repeat the cleaning and salting process to decrease the moisture. The cord with the placenta is allowed to detach naturally and it usually takes around 5-15 days.

Advantages of Lotus birth

Due to a lack of scientific research on this topic, there are no clear medical benefits of keeping the placenta attached to the baby.

Some mothers express their preference for Lotus birth because they want to have a natural birth and postnatal care. In their opinion, the Lotus birth helps the newborn to bond and attach to their mother, and become part of a family. Some say that the placenta belongs to the infant and is not a medical byproduct. Some women emphasize the spirituality of the practice as its main advantage.

Some people think that Lotus births can boost the amount of blood and nutrition the placenta gives to the infant. However, since the placenta does not get blood from the mother after it is delivered, it cannot offer any advantages.

Lotus birth supporters think it may reduce the chance of injury to the cord. Nevertheless, it’s necessary to be cautious while taking care of the newborn, because of the attached cord and placenta. Parents must avoid unnecessarily pulling on the cord while changing, feeding, and moving the baby.

There is insufficient scientific evidence to promote umbilical cord non-severance as a safe technique.

The Lotus birth method is not advised by the medical community since it increases the risk of infection. After delivery, the placenta loses its blood supply, which causes the tissue to begin to deteriorate. The placenta might potentially get infected, which would then possibly spread to the baby.

According to research, Lotus birth can be linked to omphalitis (inflammation of the belly button), urinary tract infections, endocarditis (inflammation of the inner lining of the heart), neonatal hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), and even sepsis. Nevertheless, further research is required to confirm these associations.

Medical recommendations

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the World Health Organization recommend delayed cord clamping. It includes waiting at least 30 to 60 seconds before clamping the cord.

It has been proven that delaying cord clamping has the following benefits:

  • Boosts the circulation and levels of hemoglobin in the baby.
  • Reduce the chance that preterm babies may develop anemia and require blood transfusions.
  • Improves iron reserves during the first months of life.
  • Lowers the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis and intraventricular hemorrhage in premature infants.
  • Slightly increases the risk of jaundice due to elevated levels of bilirubin.

The advantages of delayed cord clamping outweigh the disadvantages. Delayed cord clamping is only contraindicated if the baby is in distress and requires emergency medical assistance after delivery.

Lotus birth has not been thoroughly researched, thus it is unknown whether the technique is advantageous. It is possible that every possible advantage of the placenta is obtained by using the delayed cord clamping technique and Lotus birth may be unnecessary. Keep in mind that a placenta can weigh up to one pound and can cause unnecessary pressure on the umbilical cord as it is manipulated to care for the baby. Furthermore, cords are long and nothing of benefit can travel from the placenta after the blood stops flowing from the maternal circulation.

To sum up, Lotus birth has no medically proven benefits for the baby and is associated with a higher chance of infection. Delayed cord clamping is recommended by the medical community. Ask your doctor or midwife for their opinions and expertise with the procedure if you are still considering having a Lotus birth.

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