Pregnancy

What is a Lotus Birth: Benefits & Risks

Team PeanutTeam Peanutabout 1 month ago12 min read

A lotus delivery involves leaving the umbilical cord attached to the placenta and allowing it to fall off on its own. Let’s look at lotus birth benefits and potential risks.

Lotus Birth

Lotus birthing is an uncommon birthing practice.

In fact, many mamas-to-be haven’t heard of it by the time they make their birth plan choices.

One of the main reasons for this is that there hasn’t been a lot of research done into lotus births, so it is not as widely understood as other birthing choices.

That being said, mamas who want to get as much of a natural and spiritual feeling from the birthing process as possible may well feel that a lotus birth is something they want to explore.

If you’ve come across the idea of having a lotus delivery, it’s best to learn as much about it as you can before deciding to opt for one.

So here’s everything you need to know about having a lotus delivery, along with lotus birth pros and cons so you can make the right decision for you.

In this article: 📝

  • What is a lotus birth?
  • What is a lotus mom?
  • Why would you have a lotus birth?
  • Are lotus births safe?
  • How do you get a lotus birth?
  • What do you do with placenta after lotus birth?
  • Common lotus birth FAQs

What is a lotus birth?

Lotus birth is the practice of keeping the placenta attached to the baby once they’re born.

In other words, you decide not to cut the umbilical cord, but rather let it fall off on its own.

The umbilical cord is the tube that connects your baby to the placenta the whole time they’re inside you.

It gives your baby blood, oxygen, and nutrients from your body and carries out waste. It’s basically your little one’s supply chain.

When babies are born, the umbilical cord is usually clamped and cut fairly quickly.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends cord clamping between one and three minutes after your baby is born.

(This is called delayed cord clamping, and many experts, the WHO included, prefer it to early cord clamping, which is when the cord is clamped in the first minute after birth.)

Your baby’s placenta will usually come out of your body between five minutes and an hour after your baby (although there are always exceptions).

In a lotus birth, however, the cord isn’t cut and the placenta remains attached to it, so that the baby stays connected to both the cord and the placenta until they fall away naturally, which can take between five days and two weeks.

What is a lotus mom?

A lotus mom (or lotus mother) is the term used to describe a pregnant person who chooses to have a lotus delivery of their baby.

What is a lotus baby?

“Lotus baby” is a phrase to describe a baby born by lotus delivery ‒ their umbilical cord remains attached to their placenta after birth, and falls off on its own.

Why is it called lotus birth?

Some people believe the term “lotus birth” has a spiritual meaning, linked to the lotus flower and how it represents birth and peace.

However, the term “lotus birth” was actually named after Clair Lotus Day, who, while pregnant in 1974, saw that chimpanzees who gave birth didn’t ‘cut the cord’ from their newborns to their placenta.

Why would you have a lotus birth?

While it’s not a common birthing practice, some mamas around the world choose to have a lotus delivery.

There can be many reasons why mamas choose to have a lotus delivery ‒ the lotus birth spiritual meaning, for example, can be a way of keeping the baby, cord, and placenta together as a less invasive and traumatic way for a baby to transition from the womb to the world.

Is a lotus birth beneficial?

There may be some benefits of lotus births, although the general consensus from the medical community is that the risks outweigh the lotus birth benefits.

Some lotus birth benefits might be:

  • It’s a more gentle way of getting baby used to the world outside of the womb.
  • It can feel like a more ‘natural’ birth ‒ lotus birth is a preferred birth preference of some ‘crunchy moms’.
  • Some people believe baby may get more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients early on, such as hemoglobin and iron, but there’s no scientific evidence to support this.
  • Baby is less likely to have an injury to their belly button before their umbilical cord falls off.

Are lotus births safe?

Some people believe that lotus births increase the nourishment the baby receives from the placenta.

Unfortunately, this isn’t true.

The placenta’s blood and nutrients come from you, the mama, which means that after it’s been birthed, the placenta has no more blood or nutrients to offer.

In fact, the blood in the placenta isn’t fresh or being pumped about by the time baby is born ‒ it’s essentially done its job and has, in a sense, died.

If baby is still attached to the placenta for a long period of time after a lotus birth, that can increase the risk of infections.

So are lotus births safe?

Well, according to various medical studies, umbilical nonseverance (aka lotus births), the necrotic (dead) tissue of the placenta after birth can mean the risk of lotus birth infections and bacteria suggest that lotus births are not safe.

What are some lotus birth risks?

As we’ve found out, there are a few risks associated with having a lotus birth ‒ infection being the main risk.

One of the most important aspects of a lotus birth is keeping the placenta clean and treating it so that it doesn’t get too smelly once it has been delivered.

Especially given that it is still connected to your baby.

Lotus birth advocates talk about using salt, herbs, and essential oils on the placenta, and wrapping it in a bag or towel.

However, there isn’t any researched medical advice on whether this is safe and healthy or not.

A lotus birth also affects the logistics of your first days of parenthood too.

If you’re carrying the placenta around with your newborn baby, you need to be careful not to rip the cord off accidentally, while learning to look after your little one for the first time as well.

Have there been any lotus birth deaths?

What are the chances of a lotus birth death?

Well, we don’t actually know ‒ as lotus births aren’t a common practice, there aren’t many medical studies on the chances of potential lotus birth deaths.

Sadly, there is at least one known case of a lotus birth death linked to a sepsis infection from the attached placenta ‒ baby Harlow Eden, in 2020.

Can a lotus birth cause infection?

Yes, it can.

Once the placenta is out of your body, it is dead tissue.

That means that it could become infected.

And an infected placenta could cause a lotus birth infection in your baby.

There hasn’t really been enough research into lotus births to understand their benefits fully.

What we do know is largely based on first-hand experience, rather than scientific study.

As a result, you’ll find that mainstream medical organizations and experts usually don’t recommend lotus births.

How do you get a lotus birth?

If you decide that a lotus birth is the right choice for you in your birth plan, that’s entirely your choice, mama.

So how do you go about having a lotus birth?

Well, firstly, let your doctor know what you want to do with your lotus placenta ‒ that you don’t want to cut the cord.

Your doctor may go over the potential lotus birth risks at this time, so it’s worth hearing them out.

Once you’ve given birth to your lotus baby and their lotus placenta, it’s up to you what you do next.

Most lotus moms choose to wash, salt, and put herbs on their lotus placenta once it’s delivered, while it’s still attached to baby.

Then you can use a lotus birth bag to keep the placenta in until baby’s umbilical cord falls off by itself ‒ usually between about 5 days to 2 weeks.

What is a lotus birth bag?

A lotus birth bag is somewhere to keep your lotus placenta until baby’s umbilical cord falls off.

Lotus birth bags are usually fabric, with drawstrings to close and not pull on baby’s umbilical cord, sitting by baby until it naturally falls off.

What lotus birth herbs can you use?

Many lotus moms choose to use salt and lotus birth herbs, to help preserve the lotus placenta, prevent it from smelling, and for more holistic and spiritual meanings.

Some lotus birth herbs many lotus moms use are:

  • Lavender
  • Rosewater
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

You may have to keep washing and applying salt and herbs to your lotus placenta, depending on how long it takes baby’s umbilical cord to fall off naturally.

What do you do with placenta after lotus birth?

If you’re interested in lotus births, speak to your doctor, doula, or midwife before you go into labor.

It’s a good idea to work with someone who has practical experience.

If they advise you against it, listen to what they have to say.

They might have important details about it that could affect your decision.

If your doctor or midwife can help you with lotus birth and is comfortable supporting your decision for one, these are a few things to remember after welcoming your little one into the world:

  • Dress your little one in open clothing that doesn’t affect the cord or cause any tension.
  • Be as gentle as possible when holding them in your arms or traveling with them in a stroller or car.
  • If the cord tears or if you decide that you’d rather cut it, don’t do this yourself. Ask your doctor for help.
  • A lotus birth doesn’t mean not needing to feed your little peanut. Now that your baby is out in the world, they either need to be breastfed or bottle-fed. Even if the placenta is still linked to them, it isn’t providing any nutrients anymore, so just as if you hadn’t had a lotus birth, you definitely still need to feed your baby.

How do I care for my placenta after lotus birth?

Washing your lotus placenta daily with water and keeping it covered are essential to minimize the decay and reduce the chances of infection (although the chances of lotus birth infection are never zero).

Covering it in salt and lotus birth herbs can also help preserve it for longer, if needed.

Common lotus birth FAQs

Still not sure about having a lotus birth?

Read on to find the answers to your burning questions!

Do lotus birth babies have belly buttons?

Yes, your baby will still have a lotus birth belly button.

It will look basically the same as a ‘normal’ belly button, as baby’s umbilical cord will fall off on its own.

Can you have a lotus birth with twins?

Yes, you can have a lotus birth with twins, although, depending on whether they’re identical or fraternal twins, it could be quite tricky.

If both twins have their own placenta ‒ as in fraternal twins ‒ then it will be easier to have a lotus birth.

However, if your twins share a placenta ‒ which can happen with identical twins (otherwise known as monozygotic or paternal twins) ‒ maneuvering a lotus placenta that they’re both connected to can be a challenge.

What is a partial lotus birth?

A partial lotus birth, also known as delayed umbilical cord separation, is when baby’s umbilical cord is cut after birth, but not as quickly as usual.

During a typical birth, baby’s umbilical cord is cut within about a minute of them being born.

With a partial lotus birth, baby may be connected to their lotus placenta for anywhere from 3 minutes to the time you leave hospital.

While some studies suggest delayed umbilical cord separation can be beneficial to ensure baby gets as many nutrients as possible from their placenta, much more research still needs to be done.

How is lotus birth different from delayed clamping?

A lotus birth involves keeping baby attached to their placenta until their umbilical cord falls off by itself.

However, delayed clamping, or delayed umbilical cord separation, involves manually separating baby’s umbilical cord from the placenta, although this can happen anywhere from 3 minutes after birth until you leave the hospital.

Can you encapsulate your placenta after a lotus birth?

It depends.

Encapsulating a placenta involves putting baby’s placenta into pill form.

But can you encapsulate a lotus placenta?

Possibly, yes ‒ depending on how (or whether) your lotus placenta has been preserved and washed, and how long it takes baby’s umbilical cord to fall off.

Does the placenta smell with lotus birth?

Yes, generally speaking, a lotus placenta can smell a little after birth ‒ usually a sort of musky smell.

It’s one of the reasons why many lotus moms choose to use lotus birth herbs to preserve their placenta.

If the lotus placenta isn’t regularly washed and preserved, it can start to smell rotten.

There unfortunately hasn’t been enough medical research into the safety of lotus births, so we cannot say that they are necessarily a safe choice.

If you’re considering a lotus birth, talk to your midwife or doctor, and follow their guidance.

You can also chat with other mamas on Peanut who have had or are considering having a lotus birth, to share your thoughts and experiences.

💮 More from The 411:
Your Guide to Having a Vaginal Birth
Choose Your Own (Birth) Adventure: 3 Must-Ask Questions
Hypnobirthing: What It Is, How It Works, and Top Techniques
18 Labor Tips For Moms
What is an Orgasmic Birth? All You Need to Know
What are the 4 Stages of Labor?
What is a Forceps Delivery? Is it Safe?
What to Know About Your Vagina After Birth
Online Birthing Classes: Are They Right For You?
Bringing Your Newborn Baby Home from Hospital

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