health

Is there any benefit to the Lotus Birth?

Being pregnant opens up a whole different world.

Besides finding out the many miracles that a human body can do (like grow a baby), there are all the different type of birthing options.

Now, as someone who is reaching that stage soon, I’m obviously interested in everything birthing.

Before falling pregnant, I thought there were only a few options.

Vaginal birth, no drugs.

Vaginal birth, with drugs.

C-section.

How naive I once was.

Read more: The seven things you really think while giving birth.

Not only are there many many more options to how to bring a baby into the world, there is also what you plan to do with the placenta (like placenta pills – read more here – or placenta art – check out these artworks here) and how you want that placenta separated from your baby.

Ah, doesn’t someone just cut the cord?

Yes, I thought that was the only option. Well, I thought the only choice was to decide who cut the umbilical cord – the doctor or your birth partner.

But no.

"Ah, doesn't someone just cut the cord? No." Image via iStock.
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I've read stories about women choosing to burn the cord with a candle instead of cutting it.

Read more: The “new” ancient birth trend coming to a maternity ward near you.

I've read stories about women who prefer to delay the cutting of the cord.

Read more: For years, one thing about birth has never changed. Until now.

And while, to be truthful, I've thought those practices were a little "out there" (no judgement), I stumbled across another umbilical cord choice. Just when I thought we were running out of things to do with that one small piece.

It's call Umbilical Nonseverance. Doesn't sound familiar? You may have heard of it under Lotus Birth.

Nope? Still nothing?

Firstly, it has nothing to do with a Lotus flower (my first mistake). It is where instead of cutting, or clamping, or delaying or burning the umbilical cord, you leave it. Just as it is. And let it separate...naturally. Which can take anywhere from three to 10 days.

A Lotus Birth has nothing to do with a Lotus flower (my first mistake). Image via iStock.
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Read more: The rise of the Birthzilla.

Now, this is nothing new. Women have been opting for a Lotus Birth for quite some time. In fact, in 2013 the New York Post published an article on the claimed benefits from a pro-Lotus Birth midwife.

Mary Ceallaigh says,

There’s no wound created at the umbilical site, which lessens the chance of infection.

It allows a complete transfer of placental/cord blood into the baby at a time when the baby needs that nourishment the most. Babies’ immune systems are going through huge changes at a very rapid rate when they’re first born. Not disrupting the baby’s blood volume at that time helps prevent future disease.

The mother and baby benefit from having all the focused placed on bonding, rather than the common focus of “who’s going to cut the cord, cut the bond?”

Women are more and more likely to choose this type of post-birth act. The Australian Women's Weekly report that from 2011 to 2013, there was a growth in opting for this in Australia.

Here's the thing, though. Not everyone agrees that it is the safest option for baby.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) says that Lotus Births come with a range of risks, noting that there's a lack of research on the safety or whether there are actually any benefits.

Dr Patrick O'Brien, RCOG spokesperson, said:

“If left for a period of time after the birth, there is a risk of infection in the placenta which can consequently spread to the baby. The placenta is particularly prone to infection as it contains blood. Within a short time after birth, once the umbilical cord has stopped pulsating, the placenta has no circulation and is essentially dead tissue.”

When I was looking into delayed cord clamping, Midwife Cath Curtin said that the practice was more about the parents than the health benefits to the baby. In case you aren't aware, delayed coord clamping is where, instead of cutting the cord straight away, the parents request the doctors to wait one to five minutes (or sometimes longer) before clamping and cutting the umbilical cord. Parents believe the baby gets more from the placenta this way, despite research suggesting that they don't.

Another birth trend on the rise is having a photographer at your birth. Jaydene Freund from Cradled Creations captures the amazing moment a baby is taking it's first breath. TAP on the image below to scroll through the stunning (NSFW) photos... (Post continues after the gallery)

Midwife Cath said,

“Obstetrician Dr Len Kliman and I have discussed this at length. We don’t think there is a huge benefit but, we do have a lot of women requesting late cutting of the cord and we have no problem with it. We usually wait for five minutes and that certainly helps the new parents psychologically.

We also explain to the parents within the antenatal period that if there is any breathing/medical issues at the birth we will cut the cord immediately to provide resuscitation of the baby. All parents are most understanding in this situation of course.”

I believe that birth is a deeply personal experience for any mum. In a world of many, many choices and pressures on which one to choose, I believe it's up to mum to decide which one works best for her and her situation.

But I also believe that it is important to be open minded. Read the research (both sides) to any birthing practice. And make sure that any risks to the baby aren't ignored.

Because at the end of the day, it is about what is the safest option for mum and baby.

What kind of birth did you opt for?

If you have any questions on Lotus Births, or any other type of birthing options, please talk to your midwife, obstetrician or doctor.