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Is Lotus Birth Safe?

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 27, 2021

Lotus birth is when the umbilical cord is left attached to the placenta – instead of being clamped and cut – until it falls away on its own. This means the baby stays connected to the placenta for longer than with a typical birth.

It usually takes around 5-15 days for this to happen. It means that you’ll need to take good care of the placenta before it breaks away. 

Benefits of Lotus Birth

Lotus births haven’t been studied enough for us to know whether or not they have real benefits. Supporters of lotus births claim that the fetus and the placenta are made from the same matter. They believe that not cutting the umbilical cord will lead to the baby having a stronger immune system, a greater supply of oxygen, and a calmer attitude. 

Delayed cord clamping – waiting to cut the umbilical cord for 30 seconds to 2 minutes after birth – has been shown to increase an infant’s blood volume. It’s possible that lotus births have a similar effect on infants, but this hasn’t been scientifically proven. 

Risks of Lotus Birth

Once the placenta and umbilical cord leave the womb, the placenta will no longer have blood running through it. It will be made of dead tissue. This makes the placenta susceptible to an infection. If this happens, the baby will also get an infection

There’s no standard way to store or keep the placenta safe. There’s also no medical advice on how to do so. Some people store the placenta in a bag, while others decide to keep it out in the open air. Some even put herbs and essential oils on it. None of these methods have been studied in a scientific way. 

Taking Care of the Placenta

If you decide that a lotus birth is the correct choice for you and your family, you must keep a close eye on the umbilical cord before it breaks away from your baby. If you decide later that you want to cut the umbilical cord, go to the ba by’s doctor and have them cut it. Don’t cut it at home or let it tear by mistake.  

While the placenta is still attached to your baby: 

  • Dress them in open clothes that don’t affect the umbilical cord or fit too snugly.
  • Make sure the placenta is near your baby at all times so that it doesn't pull or cause tension. 
  • When you feed, hold, or otherwise touch your baby, remember to look out for the umbilical cord. 
  • Keep an eye on the placenta and your baby for infection or accidental cord tearing.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Even if you don’t have any concerns with your lotus birth, you should make a doctor’s appointment for your baby within 1 to 3 days after delivery. Seek medical attention immediately if you notice any of the following:

  • Redness, elevated temperature, or swelling around the umbilical cord
  • Temperature higher than 100.4 F
  • Irregular feeding (less than 8-12 feedings with three stools) within the first three days after birth
  • Irregular sleeping patterns or difficulty waking your baby 
  • Any damage to the placenta

Since the lotus birth method hasn’t been studied well, take as much care as possible if you choose to practice it. Your baby’s immune system will not have fully developed at this point in their life. Any medical disturbance they have will affect them more than it would affect an adult. 

Show Sources

SOURCES: 

Clinical Pediatrics: “Lotus Birth: A Case Series Report on Umbilical Nonseverance.”

Italian Journal of Pediatrics: “Medico-legal considerations on “Lotus Birth” in the Italian legislative framework.”

Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada: “Early Versus Delayed Cord Clamping in Term and Preterm Births: A Review.”

University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital: “Lotus Birth/Umbilical Non-Severance: What to Expect."

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