What Is a Lotus Birth? 5 Things to Know

pregnant moms meditating

Ever heard of a “lotus birth” and wondered what the heck it is? Yeah, we have too. One thing it isn’t: Having a baby while sitting in the lotus yoga position. Although that sounds nice and zen, doesn’t it?

The lotus birth trend has been catching on in recent years, and some moms who have done it swear by it. Here are five things to know about a lotus birth:

1. It means keeping the baby attached to the umbilical cord and placenta until they fall off naturally, typically within two to five days after birth, rather than cutting the cord seconds or minutes after delivery.

2. Advocates say letting the umbilical cord detach from the baby in its own time gives the child beneficial nutrients from the placenta that are left over from pregnancy. They also claim it promotes more bonding between mother and child since the baby has to stay close to mom while still attached to the cord and placenta.

3. Doctors, on the other hand, say there’s no scientific data backing up the supposed benefits of the ritual. Though one recent study has shown it was better for baby to delay cord clamping after birth, it only meant by extra seconds or minutes — not by days. The research found that by not clamping and cutting the cord immediately, a child’s early hemoglobin levels tended to be higher, which can mean healthier blood, and had less of a chance of an iron deficiency within the first six months of life. They also had a higher risk of jaundice, however. But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says there’s not enough evidence to prove whether there really are benefits to delayed cord clamping.

4. Those who choose to do a lotus birth have to rinse the placenta’s surface blood clots off in cold water, then place it on an absorbent cotton cloth to let it dry out. After that, to mask the smell of the placenta and keep it out of sight, lotus birth moms often wrap it in a towel or blanket and sprinkle fragrant powder or herbs like lavender and rosemary over it.

5. Lotus birth critics say it can increase the risk of infection since the placenta, an organ, is lying out in the open for a few days and becomes dead tissue once the umbilical cord stops pulsating shortly after delivery. Because the blood in the placenta clots, there is also the danger of thromboembolism to occur, when a piece of the blood clot breaks away and travels to the baby through the umbilical cord. That can get into the lungs, brain, stomach, legs and other parts of the body with serious and potentially fatal consequences. And babies’ respiratory systems change and adapt once they’re born, so they don’t need the placenta after they’re out of the womb anyway.

So if you’re pregnant and thinking of having a lotus birth, do your research and, more importantly, talk to your doctor or midwife about the pros and cons first. No matter how you choose to have your baby, you’re in for the experience of a lifetime when your bundle of joy finally arrives!

Did you or would you try a lotus birth or do you know anyone who has?