Lotus birth, also known as umbilical non-severance, is the practice of leaving the baby attached to the placenta until the cord naturally dries and disconnects from the belly button.
In a lotus birth, instead of cutting the umbilical cord within a few minutes of birth, the parents carry the placenta still connected to the newborn baby in a bowl or special pouch. While the placenta is still attached, it continues to supply the newborn with blood and nutrients.
One study found that delaying cutting the umbilical cord by just by a few minutes could help boost brain development. Children whose cords were cut more than three minutes after birth had slightly higher social skills and fine motor skills than those whose cords were cut within 10 seconds.
The World Health Organization recommends delayed cord clamping of not less than one minute. This is believed to help improve maternal bond and connections.
Researchers from the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health at Uppsala University in Sweden randomly assigned half of 263 healthy newborns have their cords clamped more than three minutes after birth.
The other half were clamped less than 10 seconds after birth.
Four years later, the children underwent a series of assessments for IQ, social, motor, and communication skills, problem-solving and behaviour. Those with delayed cord clamping showed modestly higher scores in social skills and fine motor skills. When separated by sex, only the boys showed statistically significant improvement.
With a lotus birth, the cord is never intentionally detached. After the cord eventually falls off, both the cord and placenta are placed in a special pot or pouch. They’re treated with herbs and salt until the cord breaks.
This procedure is different from the standard medical practice, which cuts the umbilical cord within 10 seconds after birth or slightly longer; at least one minute.
Is it safe?
People who support the procedure believe that cutting the umbilical cord creates a physical shock and deprives the baby of the extra blood and nutrients remaining in the placenta after birth.
Supporters of lotus birth believe in treating the baby, placenta and umbilical as one; and that the cord and placenta will instinctively “know” when it’s time to separate.
While there may be advocates for this procedure, experts are sceptical about lotus birth, and some warn that it may even be harmful to the baby. One way of looking at it is that you’re keeping a newborn connected to a dead and decaying organ, which could be a source of infection for your baby. The placenta is considered “dead” tissue, and because of this, the blood in it is prone to bacterial overgrowth.
Is a lotus birth for you?
Delayed cord cutting; can help transfer an additional blood supply and is becoming more common. However, there isn’t really enough evidence about the health benefits and risks of lotus birth. Ultimately the decision to go this route is a personal one.