There certainly have been a lot of birthing fads over the years. Water births. Free birthing. Orgasmic births. Then you have all of those things that you can do now right after the birth. Like save the placenta and chop it up and add it to your salad, or make a nice necklace out of it. But now there's a whole new placenta thingy going on that encourages you to do nothing with it. Yep, nothing. Leave it right there. Right where it is, attached to the baby's belly by the umbilical cord. And leave that alone too. Don't touch! Let it dry up and fall off naturally, which can take anywhere from three days to an entire week. It's called "lotus birthing." Sure, it's kind of gross and no one really wants to touch your kid, but, according to these lotus-y moms, you shouldn't have anyone touching your kid in the first weeks after birth anyway!
A growing group of women (and men!) are leaving their babies' umbilical cord and placenta right where they were when they came out of the womb, for as long as they naturally want to be there. Moms who do this say that this source of nutrients and oxygen can only be beneficial to baby the longer it stays on.
One mom even notes a profound difference in the way her two children behaved moments after birth -- one who had the umbilical cord cut in the traditional way and one who didn't. Leta Elliot, who was encouraged to lotus birth by her husband, Steve Meyer, says that their first baby, Lara, had her cord clamped right away and that she made an "anguished noise" and that "before that, she had been really happy." Lotus lovers believe the umbilical cord, which the baby holds onto during gestation, gives great comfort to the child, who continues to grasp it after birth.
With their second child, Sophia, Leta and Elliot tried lotus birthing and she "was born at home and was very floppy and chilled out with a faraway look in her eyes for the first seven days, until her cord fell off."
Hm, a "floppy and chilled out" baby would kind of scare me, but maybe that's just because moms are so accustomed to having babies scream all of the time? Maybe this is a better way?
However, obstetricians actually think lotus birthing can put your baby in danger. The British obstetricians group put out a statement that said:
If you wanted to pick an environment that encourages bacteria to grow you probably could not do better than to leave the placenta attached after birth. Soon after the baby is born there is no longer any circulation in the placenta, so it’s dead tissue and full of blood, making it the perfect culture medium for bacteria ... If the placenta remains attached, that risk of infection is greater.
Lotus birthing doesn't sound like something everyone should just start doing -- granted, doctors do often change their minds about things, but usually with a lot of research behind it. Sometimes I feel like moms are outdoing each other to try and nab the "crunchy mom of the year" award without any real benefit to baby, and possible risk too. It just seems like something to brag about on the playground. "Oh, I made cookies out of my placenta ..." "Yeah, well, I made earrings out of mine and here they are!" and then some mom comes along and trumps them all with, "Well, my baby is still wearing her placenta, so there!"
Would you keep your baby's placenta on?
Image via Luis De Bethencourt/Flickr