WARNING: You might not want to read this if you just ate! I was fascinated in an I- can't-look-away-from-the-horrific-traffic-accident sort of way by a piece on xoJane written by a woman who had a lotus birth.
What the heck is a lotus birth, you ask (as did I)? It's when the umbilical cord isn't cut after childbirth so that the baby is left attached to his or her placenta until the cord naturally falls off—which could take up to a week.
To put this in perspective, most umbilical cords are usually clamped and cut within the first few minutes of a baby's life as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of maternal hemorrhaging. Recent studies have shown that delaying clamping for at least a minute significantly improves iron and hemoglobin levels in newborns and does not increase the risks to mothers. The World Health Organization believes you can wait even longer, and recommends clamping and cutting the umbilical cord between one and three minutes after birth because of the iron benefits passed onto the baby (but beware that delaying clamping can sometimes cause the baby to develop jaundice, caused by either liver trouble or an excessive loss of blood cells).
There are no findings that the lotus birth improves the health of a baby since the placenta stops pumping oxygen, iron and stem cells to the infant after approximately five minutes. In fact, many physicians believe a lotus birth could cause infections if the umbilical cord isn't properly cared for and watched closely since it's basically dead tissue full of blood—a breeding ground for bacteria. Despite that, lotus births are becoming more and more popular.
According to moms who are doing this, there are two main perks. 1) The placenta is said to be a comfort to the newborn, since it has been in the womb with the baby throughout the pregnancy. 2) It helps the immediate bond formed between mother and child since the child needs to be kept close because the umbilical cord and placenta are still attached.
Depending on your point of view, this may be the most insane thing you'll ever read, or you might think it's the most natural, beautiful way to look at childbirth. I tend to lean towards this being a teensy bit nuts! Not to mention really unsterile (even though the mom says she went through painstaking measures to "wash and wrap the placenta everyday to keep it clean," even placing it in a waterproof pouch.
Often lotus births go hand-in-hand with unassisted births, where the moms choose not to have a midwife or doctor present during the child's birth—just her partner. Though I find that to be a romantic idea, just you and the one you love bringing this baby you two created into this world all by yourselves, I would be too paranoid something would go terribly wrong that I'd never even consider that as an option.
One might say I'm being too squeamish about childbirth (maybe!), and that a woman's body knows what it's doing—it's like turning on cruise control in a car! But I don't see any lotus births in my future. Ever!
TELL US: Would you give unassisted lotus birth a try?
Image of mom and baby courtesy of Shutterstock.