The act of childbirth is a highly unique experience; there are a lot of variables that go into bringing a human being into the world. That being said… lotus births are becoming a thing, & I don’t get why they’re a thing.
A lotus birth is an offshoot of what is commonly referred to as delayed cord clamping. Delayed cord clamping is exactly that; as the baby is born, the umbilical cord is not immediately cut.
Research suggests that delaying the cutting of the cord for up to 15 minutes after birth can possibly provide the newborn with additional nutrients.
Sounds good, right?
Apparently the lotus birth theory is “go big or go home”… because we’re not talking preserving the cord and placenta for a few additional minutes. Or a few additional hours, even.
Nope. How about hanging on to that cord and placenta for a few extra DAYS?
You’ve probably heard about the benefits of preserving your placenta- you may have even done the same yourself. The placenta does an amazing job of nourishing your baby while in utero, and some champion the benefits of it even after birth.
A lotus birth, however, involves keeping the umbilical cord AND placenta intact, and still attached to the newborn, until the cord site begins to shrivel up and fall off (anywhere from 3-10 days after birth).
The idea is that preserving the placenta connection until it naturally disconnects is more natural. According to the natural childbirth website Mama Natural, a considerable benefit to a lotus birth is that:
a lotus birth softens the newborn’s transition from the womb to the outside world. They believe it reduces birth trauma and reinforces the gentleness of natural birth.
So basically, the mom ends up not only carrying around a newborn, but carrying around a newborn with their own nutrient suitcase and “charger” cord (if it’s anything like my house, someone else is still going to swear that it’s THEIR cord).
We all know that birth is a miracle, but it’s also a messy business. I’m not one to ever have gotten squeamish about seeing my baby’s placenta. It was an organ that my own body made, to nourish my baby, which is pretty amazing.
Here’s what seems less amazing: lugging that same miraculous placenta around with my newborn, for days on end.
As a mom who has birthed six kids, I can’t even fathom trying to adapt to caring for a tiny newborn while keeping him/her tethered to a bag.
I still remember the crushing exhaustion of those first few nights. And I still remember the struggle of changing tiny diapers with a mess of baby poop inside of them while sleep deprived. I can’t imagine trying to change a diaper in the middle of the night with an ENTIRE UMBILICAL CORD, shriveling like a drying sausage in the sun, flopping in the way.
And for those of you with pets, you just know you’d have to spend an ungodly amount of time trying to bat your pet away from chewing that cord right on through. I can’t even keep my cat from creeping under our table during dinner, much less away from baby’s dangling umbilical cord.
Cats love chasing string. And they love tasty meaty treats. You do the math- this spells CATastrophe.
But back to the other half of the lotus birth experience- the placenta.
In additional to all of the other baby gear that newborns require, this method would also require you to carry –everywhere with your baby– a bag containing the bloody, pulpy hunk of liver-looking mess than was once that miraculous nourisher of life… the big ‘ole placenta.
Have you seen a placenta? While they are miraculous, they are also gnarly. If grinding one up and whipping it into a shake does Mom’s body good, I’m all for it (well, I’m all for YOU drinking it. Not me personally. I don’t even like veggie smoothies, so a placenta smoothie is out).
But if carrying the placenta around for days on end does… NOT necessarily do baby any good, at least not in a medically proven way as of yet, then I say nah.
Granted, you could get all decorative with your placenta container of choice; in fact, I bet Etsy makes them already! But even the prettiest, most adorable bag or bowl would scare the living CRAP out of 99% of the people you know that stopped to admire it, only to get a peek at the horror show that’s slowly decomposing inside it. Just…. no.
Putting the general ickiness of the idea aside for a moment, lotus birth also has the more practical potential to have a negative impact on the newborn.
According to Dr. Michael Cackovic, a maternal fetal medicine specialist that shared his reservations about lotus birth with Parents magazine:
Essentially, the baby is kind of carrying around this dead piece of tissue that has bacteria on it.
Think about how careful we are in trying to protect our newborns from germs at this vulnerable stage of life. It seems counterproductive to saddle a newborn with a bacteria-collecting specimen in such close proximity to their delicate immune system.
I’d definitely feel more comfortable hearing solid medical research that supports the benefits of lotus birth. I also know that even with definitive medical evidence supporting it, I’d probably still feel uncomfortable about it.
But the bottom line: Moms can choose what they want.
And if there are moms out there that have opted for a lotus birth or are planning to do so, you do you, girl. While I may have strong opinions on certain aspects of birth, I know it’s a mother’s right to choose what works best for her. I’ve done it when I gave birth to my children, & I’m happy to see other mothers doing the same.
While I definitely won’t want to look in your placenta-bag, you need to make the decision that YOU feel is best for you and your child. And we’ll try hard to support that.
Even if we don’t get it.