Still, I have to admit that when I first heard about the practice of a “lotus birth,” it sounded a little strange to me. If you haven’t heard of it yet, lotus birth is where you leave the placenta attached to your newborn for several days, until it naturally falls off.
Proponents of the practice do it to extend the already-recommended practice of delayed cord clamping, where you wait until the cord stops pulsing before you cut it, in order to deliver the life-giving and nourishing blood from the placenta to your baby. Even major health organizations like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend this practice. But lotus birthers take things a step further, preferring for nature to take its course, and for the cord to detach in its own time.
But why do this, you might ask? And, ummm, what about the fact that your baby will have what basically amounts to a rotting organ attached to them for a few days?
Well, one mom who recently opened up about her experience with lotus birth on Facebook is here to tell you that it’s not that gross. In fact, she says it has some tangible and awesome benefits.
Vanessa Fisher is a flight attendant from Texas and a mom of two boys. One of her sons is 11 years old, but the little one, Ashton, was just born this past January 16th. Fisher tells Babble that she didn’t practice lotus birth with her first son, but she did with Ashton. And because it was such a positive experience, the mom recently took to Facebook to share why it worked so well for her and her family.
In the post, Fisher outlines her reasons for choosing lotus birth (or “umbilical nonseverance,” as she describes it) and includes a sweet picture of her little guy sleeping, still attached to his cord. The placenta is out of sight, in a gorgeous blue drawstring bag that Fisher tells Babble was made by her cousin.
As Fisher explains in her post, she choose lotus birth to “[t]rust the natural process that God created for child bearing.” The mom additionally notes that she believes lotus birth allows for “complete placental blood transfer,” and creates a more “fluid transition” for moms and babies from the pregnant state to birth. Fisher also feels that the practice helps give babies a “serene and peaceful” temperament.
Fisher tells Babble that she got the idea for lotus birthing after learning about the well-documented benefits of delayed cord clamping. Keeping the cord attached until it fell off just seemed like the most natural progression to her.
“The idea really resonated with me because I was already set on embracing a very natural approach to this pregnancy, and cutting out any unnecessary medical interference was important to me,” says Fisher. “It was very early in the pregnancy that we decided that this would be added to our birth plan.”
The experience went really well for the family. Ashton stayed attached to his placenta for nine days until it fell off on its own, Fisher shares. And Ashton is healthy and doing great. The placenta was covered in that pretty blue bag so it was out sight and less of a nuisance for the family to deal with. Fisher tells Babble that she covered the placenta with sea salt and herbs in an effort to stop it from rotting.
You might be wondering if Fisher has faced any outside criticism because of this choice. Although she says that her husband was initially “surprised” when she told him she wanted a lotus birth, he quickly became supportive of it. Her 11-year-old son told her that he didn’t want to hold the baby until the placenta detached … but it sounds like that all worked out fine.
There was also some general discomfort with the idea from family members.
“I think that the most reluctance stemmed from the fact that it was unfamiliar,” says Fisher. “People seem to be split right down the middle on their feelings on the lotus birth. Some find it very interesting and possibly something they’d consider … others find it dangerous and repulsive.”
Other arguments against it were simply that the placenta was “unattractive,” and that “the placenta being attached would require that they be even more careful with the baby.”
But Fisher tells Babble she didn’t find that any of those arguments had any salience — and none swayed her away from doing it.
“I didn’t find anyone’s objections valid enough to reconsider my decision,” she says.
You certainly have to be inspired by a mother who sticks to her beliefs and follows her instincts!
But what do doctors think of this practice? Again, while there is certainly a recommendation within the medical community to keep the cord pulsing long enough for the baby to receive all that healthy blood from the placenta, the only mention of lotus births that seems to be out there is from The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG).
RCOG issued a statement in 2008 warning that the practice could carry a risk of infection, and that babies should be carefully monitored if their parents are seeking a lotus birth.
“If women do opt for umbilical non-severance, the RCOG strongly recommends that their babies be monitored carefully for any signs of infection,” wrote RCOG.
So, like everything else, if you are itching to try a lotus birth, definitely consult with your healthcare provider. And then, if you get their blessing, I say go for it.
Lotus birth may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but like virtually every parenting decision out there, if it isn’t hurting anyone else, then you (and only you!) are the one who gets to decide.