Lotus Birth Overview: Advantages and Disadvantages

Crystal Michel
Coach & Doula

What Is A Lotus Birth?

As certified birth coaches online, we would like to educate you on different topics regarding pregnancy and birth like the lotus birth. Over the past decade, many studies have been conducted into the benefits of not clamping and cutting the umbilical cord directly afterbirth. The findings suggest that there are no negative effects for mom while babies show an increase in hemoglobin and iron levels after leaving the umbilical cord attached for only 1 minute longer than usual. Babies are healthier overall with delayed cord clamping.

Research also suggests that leaving the cord attached for even longer may have additional benefits, therefore the rise in popularity of the lotus birth. A lotus birth leaves the umbilical cord attached to the placenta after the mother has delivered it and until it dries out and falls off naturally.

There are benefits associated with this practice:

- The continued flow of oxygenated blood to the new-born increases blood flow and therefore circulation as well as improves red blood cell count, immunity, body temperature and brain development.

- There is less risk of infection occurring in the umbilical wound.

- The wound heals faster if the cord is left attached.

- It encourages bonding between mother and child and is less traumatic for the infant which promotes postpartum healing.

Problems with the Lotus Birth Approach

Of course there is some controversy regarding this practice.The same research that revealed the health benefits to the baby also revealed some risks involved with the process. Delayed clamping for 1 minute may result in jaundice which could result in loss of hearing and brain defects later on in life. It is believed that the longer the cord is left in place, the more likely these negative side effects are to occur. The World Health Organization has thus recommended that clamping of the umbilical cord take place between 1 and 3 minutes after birth.

The main issue however arises with regards to the placenta. Once the placenta has been separated from the mother, there is no blood flow to the organ which means that it is essentially dead tissue. There are two main concerns regarding a new-born remaining attached to this dead tissue.

The first and primary concern is of infection. The placenta is exceptionally prone to infection because it is filled with blood. As the organ begins to decay outside the body and without circulation, the risk of infection to the baby is increased.

Secondly, there is the issue as to whether there are any health benefits to the baby by leaving the umbilical cord attached to the placenta. The placenta can no longer provide a nourishing benefit to the baby or boost the immune system due to the fact that there is no circulation. But more research is needed in this field.

The lotus birth practice does take these concerns into consideration and the placenta is allowed to drain for a period of 24 hours. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the organ also lowers the risk of infection. If the placenta changes color or releases a foul or bad-odor, it is recommended to seek medical attention for the infant as soon as possible.

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