What is a Lotus Birth?

Keep the Cord Campaign! So I've heard my patients use the term lotus birth being thrown around, and as a doctor I will tell you all about this natural birthing method. Some of my patients know lotus birth has something to do with the placenta after birth, but what are the benefits of a lotus birth? Are there any risks to a lotus birth? But what is a lotus birth?
What is a lotus birth?

What is a lotus birth?

A Lotus Birth by definition is maintaining the attachment of newly born baby to the placenta until it falls off naturally. The placenta naturally seals off about one hour after birth if not cut prior to.  In anesthesia school we were always taught to clamp the cord upon birth because the iron content increases upon cord clamping soon after the baby is born, but a new birthing trend called Lotus Birth is all the new hype. Don't forget to pack your NoMo Nausea Band in your birthing hospital bag. 

 

 What kind of doctor would I be if I didn't tell you about natural relief for nausea and vomiting called NoMo Nausea Band. A 3:1 essential oil infused pressure bracelet designed for pregnancy and delivery and stops upset stomach in 30 seconds or less. NoMo Nausea is used in hospitals in over 175 hospital systems across the US, but don’t rely on your hospital to give you one, just order one on amazon or buy in store at Walmart or BuyBuy Baby. A $12 wristband can save you from giving up your cookies, and the hospital won’t give you a big meal until after you deliver so trust me you want to keep all your food down. 

 

Lotus placenta

   The placenta has one vein which supplies blood to the baby and two arteries which removes waste from the baby to the placenta which usually when connected to the mother the mother filter is it out. This is actually opposite of what happens with our arteries and veins in our own body once the baby is born.
lotus birth benefits

Benefits of lotus birth

The placenta is considered fresh or viable for up to 3 hours post delivery, so I can see how in 3 hours it helps to maintain hemoglobin or blood levels in the baby, and excrete waste and toxins that may have acquired during stressful situations like the birthing process. Some studies have shown that for this three to four hours post partum, it has been very beneficial for preterm babies as they have difficulties with their immune system. 
Think of the placenta as an endocrine gland, where it excretes massive amounts of hormones for both the mother and the baby. Mainly the hormones produced are estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones that assist with lactation that are great for the mother, but I want to focus on the benefits of keeping the placenta attached to the fetus. The one I want to focus on is called cyclical AMP, an energy source. Babies have a very rapid metabolism and have to feed often, so keeping the placenta attached will allow them to receive extra nutrients and these energy promoting hormones until the mother is able to breastfeed.
lotus birth

 

Half lotus birth

Usually immediately after the baby is born and takes their first breath, less than 5-10 minutes later, the cord stops pulsating and the umbilical cord is cut immediately. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend waiting 30-60 seconds before clamping the cord. The only case where delayed cord clamping is not recommended is when the baby is in distress and needs immediate medical attention. There is no more exchange between the placenta and the baby. Delivering the placenta is called the after-birth or the 4th stage of labor. Sometimes it takes up to an hour to deliver the placenta, and we as doctors need to get all of the placenta out or else problems can ensue with retained placenta like bleeding, cramping, and more. 
A half lotus birth is when the baby remains attached until the placenta is delivered within a few hours versus a full lotus is when the cord detaches from the baby completely which can take a long time and potentially ensue risks. Imagine carrying a baby and a placenta attached to them until their belly button dries out and it falls off naturally. Curious how long it takes for a newborn babies black raisin looking belly button to fall off? Or how to care for your babies belly button stump? Read this belly button blog from pregnancy to newborn: How to clean a babies belly button stump?
Listen to "Belly Button Changes During Pregnancy - Pregnant Podcast Pukeology Ep. 58" on Spreaker.

Lotus birth infection risk

Those are the three reasons why I believe a modified Lotus birth is appropriate but not to be left for long durations of time attached because it can increase the risk of infection since the placental organ is exposed to the environment and feeds directly to the vessels of the baby through the belly button until it has fallen off. There is also a slight increased risk of jaundice with delayed cord clamping. 
June 25, 2022 by Dr. Jacqueline Darna
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