Every family has specific wishes for their labor and birth, and for that time immediately after a baby is born. Many want the opportunity to snuggle with their baby, some have their baby do the "breast crawl" up from the mom's abdomen to nurse for the first time, and some... choose not to cut the baby's umbilical cord at all, and to leave the placenta attached to the baby. This is called lotus birth. Why do some women choose it? Are there any benefits? Is a lotus birth medically responsible?
From what I have seen around the internet, the majority of women who choose a lotus birth for their baby are from the United States, though some are from other western countries. All subscribe to a natural approach to childbirth, and while some women do pull off a lotus birth in a hospital, most choose to have homebirths. To lotus birth advocates, not severing the umbilical cord and leaving the placenta attached until it falls off naturally is about a gentle start to the world; about non-violence.
"After I had a lotus birth, seeing videos of babies having their cords cut makes me cry," one mother said. With lotus birth, the placenta is preserved with salt and a mixture of herbs usually including rosemary. The placenta and cord duo usually take up to three days to separate from the baby completely. Until that happens, the mother carries the placenta (which is often placed in a bowl or a special bag, as seen in the picture above) around with the baby. Many take it easy and remain in bed most of the day... something that many new mothers would love to do. Lotus birth families face a practical obstacle to that pull to get up and clean, or entertain guests.
According to people who practice this, the placenta does not start rotting (as many would suppose, including me). Instead, it dries up and then separates. The lotus birth movement is most certainly a fringe one, and few would argue that there are any medical benefits to this practice. Unlike some who do it say, lotus birth was not historically practiced in any indigenous culture; it is a fairly recent, American invention. There is no risk either, though. If you are looking for an excuse to avoid people invading those precious first days with your newborn, you may even consider a lotus birth!