Real Medicine

Lotus Birth: The Answer or Just Another Fad?

Have you heard of the latest birthing fad?

It’s called the “Lotus Birth”. I thought it had something to do with the lotus flower, but apparently it’s just the name of the first woman to encourage the practice.

What is Lotus Birth?

A Lotus Birth is one where the umbilical cord isn’t clamped once the baby is born. Unlike delayed cord-clamping, the cord and the placenta remain attached to the baby until it falls off. This can take anything between three and ten days.

What are the claimed benefits?

The biggest reasoning given for this concept is based on the fact that the placenta is formed from the same egg-and-sperm that gives rise to the baby, and therefore it is part of the baby, and therefore it must not be violently severed from the baby.

There’s a largely metaphysical argument, relating to the baby being calmer, being more gently introduced to the world, and feeling closer to its mother.

(Hey, here’s an idea: practise Kangaroo Mother Care. That should help Baby to feel REALLY close to Mom.)

I could say that my cord was clamped and I don’t experience lingering trauma; but that would be as unscientific as the evidence for LB.

What are the health implications?

What really gets my goat is the so-called health benefit of lotus birth. Proponents claim that it reduces risk of infection, because there’s no open stump.

No. You’re right. There’s no open stump.

THERE IS A FREAKING OPEN PLACENTA!

Have you seen a placenta lately? The whole thing is a portal for infection.

It is said that the placenta must be liberally covered with coarse salt to prevent infection. Why, pray, is that then any better than protecting the stump from infection?

Isn’t it better for the baby in the long run?

Studies show* that babies with delayed cord clamping have higher intermediate-term HB, which is great. These babies are also, however, at risk for complications from polycythaemia, including jaundice.

Nevertheless, delayed cord clamping has some health benefits. But only when the delay is up to a 10-20 minutes, after which the cord clamps internally and stops pulsating. So then it literally is just a dead weight. Like a necrotic toe that’s really no use. And a risk to the remaining living tissue.

For bonus marks: What’s wrong with this picture?

That’s right. The baby is above the cord. Which means if the cord hasn’t been internally clamped yet, there will be a retrograde flow into the placenta and Baby actually loses blood.

If it’s after ten minutes, the blood in the placenta itself has started to clot and is of no benefit to the baby.

Also, have you smelled a placenta recently? It stinks really badly. It’s impractical to carry around. It’s a piece of raw meat.

Conclusion

Delayed cord-clamping has some proven health benefits, whereas Lotus Birth has none. You want to do something on a whim, believing that it will make your child happier in the long run, fine by me. But do not go around claiming that keeping your child connected to it placenta til it rots off is a health benefit. You will just irk anyone with some understanding of basic life sciences. Albeit an as-yet unqualified opinion, I would not encourage this practice – and I have received similar feedback from my consultants.

*References:

  1. Effect of timing of umbilical cord clamping of term infants on maternal and neonatal outcomes,Susan J. McDonald & Philippa Middleton, Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group
  2. http://www.lotusbirth.net/

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10 thoughts on “Lotus Birth: The Answer or Just Another Fad?”

    1. Oh good, I’m not the only one who thinks it smells terrible… I could eat after cadaver dissection, and after visiting the forensics lab, but never after delivering a baby and its placenta…

  1. Wow! I had never heard of such a thing. Just seems like a horrid thing to do. I’m with Solitary Diner on this: “The smell!” Yuck.

    Thanks for visiting Grandma’s Briefs from the SITS link! Enjoy your week!

  2. WOW. I had not heard about this yet. Came over from SITS because I always love your blog and Lord, this is something. Maybe it is because I am a nurse or just way too practical or something, but seriously, where would I even put a placenta once I left the hospital? Quite frankly, where I would put it while I was in the hospital? Plus, would this mean my baby never went to the nursery giving me a few hours of sleep? Yeah, clearly, this would be a no go for me! 😉

    1. Thanks for the compliment and for stopping by 🙂
      Apparently mom’s who do lotus birth make a special “carry-bag” for the placenta, but to me that just screams DARK, WARM PLACE = INFECTIONS.
      I suppose whether the baby goes to the nursery would all depend on whether the hospital is supportive of lotus births or not. But in South African hospitals, with increasing evidence for KMC and “rooming in”, babies rarely spend much time in nurseries any more.

  3. Not only does this seem kind of gross and unsanitary, but this just seems so… inconvenient! I mean, does it take the same amount of time to fall off as the cord stump? Because that can take a couple weeks… how do you go anywhere or get anything done?

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