Posted by: Ticktock | January 19, 2009

A Skeptical Look at Lotus Birth

I support a family’s right to deliver their baby at home (as long as it’s attended by a professional midwife, and the parents are not doing it out of a fear of modern medicine), and as many of you know, I support a mother’s decision to deliver “naturally” (my wife did twice).

I’m guessing lotus birth is a new (or recently revived) fad, so I will explain the concept to those who are unfamiliar with it.  A lotus birth is when you let the placenta detach naturally, rather than clamping and cutting the umbilical cord moments after the birth.  This means that the baby’s placenta, the source of a womb’s nourishment, is slowly decaying while remaining attached to the newborn for two or three days after birth.  Many lotus birthing mothers will have a special bowl or pouch in which they keep the placenta, and to prevent the stench of decay, they cure it by rubbing salt and essential oils on it.

I don’t want to immediately dismiss the concept of lotus birth, and I certainly don’t want to judge others for choosing to try this ritual.  Based on my limited research, the baby will not be harmed (other than some jaundice) and will most likely benefit from the additional blood it will receive from the placenta being attached longer.  However, there is no rational reason to leave the placenta attached longer than a few hours, at the most.  By then, the nutrients have traveled to the baby, and the placenta has become a lump of rotting dead tissue.

So instead of making a knee-jerk reaction, I’ll look at a lotus birth web site and address their specific, and robustly fallacious, claims.  So, here are the arguments in the order that I come to them.

(lotus birth is…)The birth practice of the early American pioneers who produced some of the hardiest children known in American history… and valued everything they had

This is an appeal to antiquity, and an assumption based on historical legend.  First, I’m doubtful that lotus birthing was even practiced by early pioneers, save for a few, and I would hardly call their children “hardy” as many of them did not live past infancy.  In fact, death by childbirth was quite common, not something we would want to emulate.  What does “valued everything they had” have to do with anything?  Are we talking about the same pioneers who came to America looking for property, spread west because of “manifest destiny”, and scoured the hills of California looking for gold?

extended-delayed cord clamping & severing (just waiting more than an hour after the baby’s birth),  results in quicker cord stump healing, with an average of only one week for detachment of the stump, which makes a big difference for diaper changing!

Anybody who has had a baby knows that the cord stump falls off of the baby within a week or two (not a big deal), and this statement completely ignores the fact that lotus birth makes it so that the cord is annoyingly attached for two to three days making diaper changing even more of a hassle.

Care providers and parents who have experienced Lotus Birth babies observe that they are demonstrably more relaxed and peaceful babies who do not manifest the common (and stressful to baby and mother) 1 lb.newborn weight loss and breastfeeding jaundice that is associated with the first week of life after “normal” birth’s cord cutting

These are anecdotes that can’t be proven, and the bit about jaundice is a untrue.

These observations have yet to be studied by university hospital pediatrics, though hospital lotus births have taken place in Australia

Exactly… and the Australia bit is an irrelevant non sequitur.

These intact Lotus babies lose no energy just trying to stabilize their systems in the early postpartum hours and this shows on all levels (relaxation, bountiful healthy weight gain, core muscle strength, fine & gross motor skills, and alert observation of the world around them). This could be called ‘accelerated development’ but that would be a misnomer: Lotus babies are simply undiminished by stress in a very stressful culture. Their greater capacity for relaxation, compared to nurslings who had early cord severance and placenta loss, is apparently a metabolic foundation for life, and makes teething and other developmental stages much less distressful. It could be concluded that Lotus birth gives babies lifelong coping skills.

“Undiminished by stress in a stressful culture” means absolutely nothing. It’s apparently a metabolic foundation for life? Apparently? Where is the evidence for this? It could be concluded that lotus birth gives babies lifelong coping skills, but it could also be concluded that lotus birth does absolutely nothing for the baby at all.

Ahimsa, (non-violence in action and thought within one’s self and towards others), is a fruit of Yoga practice and a core value of the yogic lifestyle. It is from the writings and leadership by Gandhi in Ahimsa that India was freed from British colonialism, and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s civil rights inspired marches followed soon after.

So, just to clarify here, cutting the cord is an act of violence (intentional harm) that betrays the principles of Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. I’ll remember that as I celebrate MLK’s birthday today… that he would disapprove of cutting an umbilical cord. By the way, isn’t childbirth itself an act of violence if we follow this same logic?

The fully aware, intact human child carries an inner universe of potential, just like the Lotus flower whose seeds are actually plantlet embryos, containing everything needed to “Bloom and Continue to Bloom.”

WHA??? By cutting my child’s cord, I took away her universal potential?  I have no idea what that means.

In Lotus Birth, the fact that the baby’s previous months contained the constant pulsing companionship of the cord in the womb, and the protective, pulsing placenta pillow, is highly valued, along with the significantly reduced risk of infection at the tender navel site.

Perhaps we should just leave the baby in the womb for the rest of it’s life. Significantly reduced risk? Really? I’d like to see the evidence for that, and also an explanation for why I should care.

Powdered herbs such as Lavender, Goldenseal, Rosemary or Tulsi may applied for preservation during the drying process, and re-applied daily. Sea salt is also applied generously on bothh sides to aid drying and minimize scent.

I rub rosemary and salt on my leg of lamb before I cook it in the oven. I will never look at a roasted lamb leg the same way again. Ick! 🙂

In fact, the Balinese believe we are each accompanied at birth by four invisible brothers – represented by the placenta, the umbilical cord, the amniotic fluid, and the yellow, waxy substance that coats an unborn baby’s skin. They believe these guardians come into the world with us, and protect us throughout our lives.

This is an appeal to cultural tradition. It’s interesting information, but means absolutely nothing.

In fact, in Chinese Medicine culture, the placenta is eventually dried, powdered, and encapsulated – to be taken by the recovering mother, as it has potent hormones which are now known by even by western science to be beneficial and specific to that particular woman’s metabolism.

Somebody correct me here, but wouldn’t a dry powdery placenta be completely lacking in hormones? How could hormones survive being dried and pulverized? Are they magic hormones? The author of this statement fails to specify how these (magic) hormones will help and whether they are even needed.

In fact, the mammals considered to be of the highest animal intelligence, the primate chimpanzees (who are also monogamous and socially supportive of each other), do not sever the cord (and who doesn’t adore chimps?)

This one takes the cake. Chimps are highly intelligent (for animals), but they are also… chimps. They lack the ability to communicate intelligently, to create advanced tools, or to store and understand complex information, and yet we should use them as role models?

Our babies basically have Stone Age needs for undisturbed bonding the first hour or more after birth. From a Pre & Perinatal Psychology perspective, early cord severance is not something we are hardwired to cope with, and indeed, early cord severance elevates infant adrenaline levels. Early cord severance was prehistorically something probably only practiced in dire circumstances of maternal death! Virtually all undrugged babies cry out when their cords are cut in the early postpartum time.

Yikes! Talk about an appeal to antiquity; we are taking it back to the stone age now. I would think that being pushed through a vagina would raise a baby’s adrenaline, but why not blame the a quick snip of the scissors, right? Except for the fact that the baby can’t feel it being severed since there are no nerves in the cord. Most newborns cry at birth.

Quantum physics is slowly influencing a new physics of modern western medicine, wherein the ‘quantum body’ i.e, the inherent wisdom and bliss of the mind-body connectionis of foundational importance.

I think I better end on this one. When a non-scientist uses the term “quantum” in an argument, they are admitting that they don’t have evidence to explain their claim.

[note: I’ve edited this article to remove snide remarks and language that distracts from my message. I regret using that kind of tone. I’ve also removed a statement that implies quantum physicists don’t understand their field of science. My argument remains that quantum physics is often theoretical and abused by the claims of pseudoscientists]

[eta: A new study proves that delayed cord clamping is beneficial for the baby? Not true, according to The Skeptical OB, Dr. Amy Teuter.]

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Responses

  1. “Anybody who has had a baby knows that the cord stump falls off of the baby within a week…”

    Unless a week has 17 days, my 2 month old and I beg to differ.

    • I changed the sentence because you have a point that I was simplifying and generalizing.

      Regardless, the minor inconvenience of a bellybutton stump does not make lotus birth a better choice, even if they are being truthful about the fact that the stump falls off quicker.

  2. You make excellent, logical, well-reasoned arguments.

    Also, EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

    (As an aside, my baby was nearly eleven pounds at birth, and the placenta was HUGE! Even the medical staff remarked on its unusual size. I cannot IMAGINE lugging that around with the baby! Or NURSING with it next to me! It served its function in the womb, yay! Now omg let it go!!!)

  3. I really hope you submit this to a future blog carnival (hint: I’m hosting next month). I just busted a gut laughing…good job!

    I’ve cauterized dozens of umbillical cord stumps (if a granuloma develops, which can sometimes happen especially when the cord remnant detaches on the late side). There are no sensory nerves in the umbilical cord nor at the place it attaches, and the babies don’t cry when I do it. The idea that cutting the cord causes pain is ludicrous.

    BTW, I remember reading that Lotus birth is named after some hippie woman whose middle name (or last name?) was Lotus, who started the fad in the ’60s. So much for appeals to antiquity…

  4. This will be going in the blog carnival this week. Glad you endorse it! 🙂

    I hadn’t heard that it was named after anybody. From what I read, it was based on the imagery of a lotus flower floating (like the placenta in the bowl).

  5. First, the placenta resembles nothing close to a lotus blossom. Aside from that, is there any evidence that blood continues to flow to/through the placenta after it has been detached from the uterine wall? I thought that the nutrients/oxygen/et al provided by the placenta came from the mother’s blood. If there is no longer a connection to another body, how exactly is the placenta providing anything (except for the smell, which I can only imagine!)?

    Chimps also throw feces. Who’s with me on starting a new “health” fad revolving around the quantum connectedness that can occur by flinging excrement at each other?

    *headdesk*

    • Actually, the placenta may not look exactly like a lotus blossom but it does very much resemble a tree, some say a bloom as you can see here http://www.babble.com/CS/blogs/strollerderby/archive/tags/placenta+prints/default.aspx . And yes blood can actually continue to go the baby after the placenta has been detached from the uterine wall because everything that goes to the baby goes through the placenta. Therefore, it is obvious that some nutrients/blood could be left behind in the placenta. I don’t think a lotus birth is necessary or extremely beneficial, but what could it hurt? It’s not like there is a lotus birth movement condemning your parenting skills if you don’t have one so why criticize another person’s practices when it is not harmful to anybody?

      • Except the hyperbilirubinemia can cause brain damage. So what’s the harm of a little brain damage?

  6. Don’t blame me. I don’t think it looks like a lotus blossom either. It’s more like stewed tomatoes, but I guess “Tomato stew birth” was taken. 🙂

    “(Who doesn’t love a chimp?)” That was the best line. Talk about desperate! Take a break, lotus lady, you had me at American pioneers.

    There is some evidence that clamping quickly can cut off (probably non-essential) blood. I link to it in the post.

  7. The fact that you post this fairly calmly without going on a tirade of profanity to alleviate the mental congestion that you must have experienced to sift through that mound of idiocy makes you a better person than me (by the way, that’s not saying much.. but still).

  8. “I hadn’t heard that it was named after anybody. From what I read, it was based on the imagery of a lotus flower floating (like the placenta in the bowl).”

    Here’s what Sarah Whackaloon Buckley has to say about it:

    http://www.sarahjbuckley.com/articles/lotus-birth.htm

    “Lotus birth is a new ritual, having only been described in chimpanzees before 1974 when Clair Lotus Day, pregnant and living in California, began to question the routine cutting of the cord. Her searching led her to an obstetrician who was sympathetic to her wishes and her son Trimurti was born in hospital and taken home with his cord uncut. Lotus birth was named by, and seeded through, Clair to Jeannine Parvati Baker in the US and Shivam Rachana in Australia, who have both been strong advocates for this gentle practice.”

    OK, even newer than I remembered. 😉

  9. Don’t get me wrong, but I was pretty impressed by the lotus birth website… I mean, to come up with all that stuff – that’s pretty creative, no? I’d be pretty proud of writing that – not from a scientific perspective, of course.

    But seriously, not to knock the lotus birth or even a home birth for that matter (I’ll salute the mothers brave enough to stay home for the delivery) – I prefer the hospital where there’s this wonderful thing called an epidural and a doctor with a that funky suction machine because I don’t think I would have survived 36 hours of labour with a 4kg baby without either (as much as I wanted a natural birth).

    And just for the record, my son’s umbilical cord was snipped and he didn’t lose any weight in the first week of life.

    • uhmmm what?
      “I prefer the hospital where there’s this wonderful thing called an epidural…”
      as much as you wanted a natural birth?

  10. Good blog. I am very crunchy and would consider lotus birth, but I was really looking forward to eating my placenta after birth.

    I am torn as to how I can enjoy both. Haha

    Jennifer

  11. I thoroughly appreciate your blog post!

    I am a midwife who chose to be a midwife with a home birth practice so that I could practice evidence based care. However, when I started on this path the safety evidence for low tech high touch birth practices was not based in the American scientific literature and often sketchy. There has been a radical sea change in the past decade with a well done large prospective study on home birth and their outcomes as well as the dangers of common interventions that are often used, and the benefits of other “low tech” practices on the mother baby dyad.

    There is also an excellent article that has just been published in the BJOG- “Why women do not accept randomisation for place of birth: feasibility of a RCT in the Netherlands.” Basically it explains in fancy research speak that you can’t tell women where to birth or how to do it. I’m sure that your wife could have told you that one : )

    My point being, what you have quoted above as unscientific hogwash is observational, empirical data that can lead, and will lead to investigation on the practice of physiological cord closure and its benefits, physiological and developmentally to mother and baby. What you have done sort of smacks of quote mining, which I generally associate with creationists and other fundamentalist thinkers. All good science is based on observations that are then tested, and while the language around these observations above sets off your science-o-meter they are none the less valid for inquiry. And as the BJOG article gets at, birthing women get a little funny when science pokes its brain into birth.

    Essentially what we have too often had in the past 75 years of research into birth practices is a lot of wavefunction collapse because practitioners experienced in normal physiological birth have not been part of the research body due to politics and turf wars. This is fortunately changing.

    Piaget, who’s observational work on cognitive development has stood the rigors of well controlled studies, and the advances of neuroscience, began as an observer of animal behavior and extrapolated this to his work in human cognition. Looking at animal and primate models as well as testing on them, is absolutely valid in scientific inquiry into human models. The physiology of the placenta is different for a mammal that births single offspring as opposed as to those that birth litters. Animals that birth litters general consume the placenta. Chimps and other mammals do not. Why?

    We are just now gaining and understanding of how the placenta regulates the transition to an independent fetal circulatory system in babies as well as an understanding of what comprises cord blood and what role these proteins and “junk cells” play. It is possible that the closure of the cord which begins at the placental base where stem cells reside and moves towards the umbilicus, moves these vital cells which cord blood banking companies are eager to have, to the baby in a slow fashion which prevents hyper viscosity. I freely admit this is speculation, but the literature that is available encourages this possibility.

    My observations as a midwife who practices physiological cord closure, severing when the cord has closed to the umbilicus, ( yes I hate the hippie verbiage too) do bear out significant difference in healing times of umbilici when not prematurely severed. There is also a significant impact on the mother baby dyad in the ooey gooey bonding end in regards to amount of latch time, arrival of milk in the breasts, and other psychosocial dynamics that can be measured by applying social science models of measurement, as well as measurements of the hormones that surround the immediate post partum.

    As a midwife who is assembling data to address “lotus birth” in a scientific fashion I appreciate your critique on what is available to the average person doing a Google search on the subject. It is true, the literature is disjointed and often lacking as it was on home birth 20 years ago. But I offer a gentle reminder that what science has to offer us is not simply a harsh and scathing skepticism of the world, but a joyful openmindedness to the wonders in it, and the capacity for our curiosity to understand it better. When we loose that capacity we are reduced to a fundamentalism which shrinks our world to a hard knot.

    “Another thing very injurious to the child, is the tying and cutting of the navel string too soon; which should always be left till the child has not only repeatedly breathed but till all pulsation in the cord ceases. As otherwise the child is much weaker than it ought to be, a portion of the blood being left in the placenta, which ought to have been in the child.”
    Erasmus Darwin, Zoonomia, 1801, Vol III, page 302.

    Regards,

    Tracey Johnstone

    • That’s a valiant effort to sound rational and scientifically-minded whilst promoting the ludicrous notion that this practice provides any significant benefit. I forgot how utterly doomed the rest of us are because we had our umbilical cords severed and missed out on those last few drops of vital life-enhancing placental blood. If only we could be as healthy as those who managed to absorb those last few drops of blood. After all, those are the key to a truly abundant and prosperous life.

      Nope. Sorry. There is no benefit whatsoever to doing this. Blood transfers nutrients the baby needs to survive. You cut off its food supply and provide it with a new one by the time its hungry again. Its as simple as that. Its not going to be healthier or better developed or more peaceful minded or any of that horse shit just because you did it naaattuurrraaall.

      Something being “natural” doesn’t make it inherently better. Nature does a very good job of killing us with bacteria, disease, predators and the environment. 99.9% of all species that have ever lived are now extinct. You know why? Because nature isn’t some benevolent goddess looking out for us. We’re not its favourite child. We’re just what’s left when the dust cleared after millions of years of evolution.

      Nature isn’t looking out for anyone and it DOESN’T know best. We have to look out for ourselves.

  12. In reply to Ticktock-

    “Much as I’m amused at the imagery of “science poking it’s brain into birth”, the simple fact is that the claims of lotus birthing should be testable, repeatable, and provable (as are most things). If you had actual scientific evidence supporting your claim, you would be using that instead of claiming that birth is incompatible with science.”

    Ahhhh, I said birthing women have a problem with this. I am not a birthing woman, I am doing my best to stick my scientific head right in there. Matter of fact my whole post argues for the fact that research is possible!

    I believe that what happens in birth is totally testable, but not with a RCT often times. That is what the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology is stating. So we need to look at other reliable testing models. I would be happy to provide the full article as a PDF as it so new Wiley wants you to pay for it.

    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122206818/abstract

    What I argue against is wavefunction collapse in research around birth, and this article actually examines that as it applies to testing measurements in birth.

    Also, I would be more that happy to provide you an bibliography about cord closure if you would like that. I am working on annotating it currently.

    And yes, anecdotal evidence is helpful and relevant to establishing a hypothesis, how else are you going to get it?

    As well, I do practice physiological cord closure, but have clients who choose lotus birth and I am fascinated to observe and document what happens. I have not always done this in my practice, have many questions about it, and am more interested in understanding what is going on and helping develop research models that are appropriate and ethical.

    As far as my bias, well, Erasmus was a naturalist before Charles, shall we throw out his work because of a family bias to evolution?

    Piaget’s observations in developing his theory of cognitive development were done on his own children. We would loose a whole field of study of we threw out his work because he studied his children.

    Semmelweis, a personal hero, was able to save thousands of women’s lives by applying his antiseptic technique in practice while he was being laughed out teaching hospital after teaching hospital.

    And the list goes on. Observation, curiosity and engaging in the field is the first step to a well designed study.

    Tracey

  13. I agree that anecdotes help generate a hypothesis. When you said that you were “assembling data”, I thought you were equating scientific research to the occupational observations of a non-scientist. But, I seem to have misinterpreted your statement – you meant that you were developing a hypothesis. I’ll just continue my line of reasoning that even granted the fact that you are informally gathering data for a hypothesis, it’s important that such a hypothesis be tested under some type of controlled setting. But, clearly based on your statements, you would agree with that.

    I don’t think that bias is inherently a problem, but it does become a problem under the context of blinding. As you are aware, without double blinding, a researcher (or a professional as yourself) can inadvertently allow her own expectations and personal bias to interfere with the results. If you are not controlling for bias, then you may be letting your own subjective experience contaminate the objective reality.

    We have two different perspectives on a topic, and I feel that both are perfectly compatible. Your job is to give families the safe birthing experience that they choose, and my role is to assess the scientific facts and logic behind various claims that are made toward parents.

  14. Thank you Tracey for writing comments that were more interesting than the sardonically-toned original blog post.

    • Don’t be a bad sport.

      • Actually I agree that the original blog, tho well intentioned, was actually a bit of a smear on the cult of the Lotus Birth and Tracey’s response was far more balanced and scientific. Too many people appeal to ‘science’ when actually science is based on observation, empirical evidence and reason. When does a cult become a religion become a doctrine? When it is adopted by the majority. Both my kids had Lotus births on the advice of our midwife, Robin Lim and both are astonishing and beautiful people.

        It is impossible to determine whether Lotus birth was a benefit to my kids or whether it was just the serene environment into which they were delivered: but I am damn sure that their births were far kinder and gentler than mine and those of my peers born in the uber sterile, almost anti-social western hospitals of the 1960’s.

  15. today was the first day i heard about lotus births, and was a little grossed out hahaha… i’m a medical student (in australia – love the reference to australia but can tell you now that it is not a big practice down here) on my paediatric rotation and discussed this with a couple of my registrars, residents and interns.

    there are a few basic physiological principles around births and a neonate’s physiology that actually favours the removal of the placenta.

    firstly, hypoxia (low oxygen in the blood) is actually a requirement for normal physiological closure of the patent ducts/vessels in the neonate. if there is insufficient hypoxia, these shunts don’t close and become congenital heart defects i.e. patent ductus arteriosus – which needs intervention, possibly open heart surgery. and also, a little hypercapnia (high carbon dioxide in blood) is needed because that drives the respiratory centres in the brainstem for you to breath.

    secondly, birth is supposed to be a traumatic event. LOL someone above me mentioned this and it’s true. you’re (if you are a neonate) being squeezed through a vagina. and you go from being a parasite to an independent living entity. it’s supposed to be traumatic because it squeezes the fetus and stimulates it to breath and all that jazz. been to several births in my term and let me tell you that a scream and a cry is the most reassuring thing in the world – and that silence starts your panic levels and palpitations.

    (okay, i’m going to stop numbering my points now). also, once the placenta is detached from the mother, it’s supply is being provided by the baby. so instead of getting oxygen from the uterus, it’s getting oxygen from the baby’s breaths. this is medically completely useless because funny organs called the brain and heart need that oxygen to actually function (whereas the placenta serves no function once the baby is breathing).

    having to pump blood to an organ (for the better lack of a word) that serves no purpose can actually cause hypovolaemia (low blood volume) which leads to hypoperfusion (low blood to tissues) which causes hypoxic damage (cells and shit die without enough oxygen). it can also cause fluid shifts which also means that electrolytes aren’t maintained (things like potassium and sodium) to a level needed by, again, annoying organs like the heart and brain.

    furthermore, leaving tissue that is going to necrose and decay is a massive infection risk. especially because the placenta is has three direct vessels into major arteries and veins in the baby’s body, an infection can quickly lead to bacteriaemia and sepsis (infection in the blood) which can mean a quick death….

    interventionally, cutting the cord can give you quick access to a baby’s blood system (because putting a drip in a baby in an emergency situation is extremely difficult and stressful); sometimes doctors put drips in the umbilical vein and arteries to give life saving drugs and fluids.

    sure, if everything goes to plan in a lotus birth and there is physiological closure of the cord within 10 to 20 mins, then everything is dandy. baby is fine and then there is absolutely no reason to leave it there decaying. but if it doesn’t go to plan, then there are potenitally a tonne of problems that can cause death or permanent injury to the baby.

    plus, it’s totally gross. we already have to deal with vomit and poo poos. the medical staff don’t need or want a yucky placenta stinking up our ward.

    • This post has many errors in basic physiology.

      As the cord naturally closes, blood flow to and from the placenta decreases, so there is no chance of the following, not matter how delayed cord clamping is..

      “having to pump blood to an organ (for the better lack of a word) that serves no purpose can actually cause hypovolaemia (low blood volume) which leads to hypoperfusion (low blood to tissues) which causes hypoxic damage (cells and shit die without enough oxygen). it can also cause fluid shifts which also means that electrolytes aren’t maintained (things like potassium and sodium) to a level needed by, again, annoying organs like the heart and brain.”

      BTW the placenta is an organ albeit external to the baby, that fulfils the functions of kidney, liver, skin, lungs and gut for the developing baby

      Also, the extra blood that is pumped to the baby with delayed cord clamping actually optimises the transition from fetal to neonatal circulation, for example providing the circulatory volume necessary for closure of the atrial septum and to clear the lungs by increasing colloid osmotic pressure- see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11911621

      It is also illogical to suggest putting a drip in a sick newborn, if it is to correct low blood volume, when the “placental transfusion” that Mother Nature provides gives a very adequate volume. See the physiology explained here
      http://www.sarahjbuckley.com/articles/leaving-well-alone.htm

      In fact, the main reason a sick newborn has the cord clamped early is because the resuscitation equipment is not available near the mother. The following is suggested by obstetrician Andrew Weeks in the British Medical Journal (link below). “… babies born by caesarean section or for those who need support soon after birth. … may benefit most from a delay in cord clamping. For them, a policy of “wait a minute” would be pragmatic.11 Indeed, this first minute is already largely spent on neonatal assessment. This could be done in warmed towels on the birthing bed or the mother’s abdomen after vaginal delivery, or on the mother’s legs at caesarean section.

      Mainstream medical opinion is moving towards delayed clamping, which not only reduces the risk of anemia in infancy (This http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17445128 and other studies) but also ensures a good supply of red cells to oxygenate the newborn (red cell numbers are around halved by immediate cord clamping) See this BMJ editorial http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17703005 and this JAMA review http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17374818

      It has recently been suggested, radical as it may seem, that the baby’s own stem cells from “umbilical cord blood” are beneficial at the time to the baby, and harm from early clamping may include loss of stem cells http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20141549

      Lotus born babies receive all the above benefits of delayed cord clamping.

      As a lotus birth writer and advocate, I have no problem that you find it unscientific. In fact, it is a spiritual practice, and all that is necessary is that it causes no harm. (Although I have to add that there are many advantages, such as keeping mother and baby together after birth, reducing newborn handling by foreign people and keeping the baby secluded within the native bacteriological environment in the early days rather than being taken out where foreign bacteria and viruses can cause infection)

      Anecdotally, I have heard the stories of perhaps hundreds of lotus births and have been asked to comment in many different situations.
      I have never seen any harms that could be attributed to lotus birth I agree that we could do with some research to exclude the possibility of uncommon harms, but I cannot see any mechanism whereby this could cause harm.

      For example, any bacteria that coat the placenta are from the mother’s birth canal and also coat the baby, so I do not see any extra risk of infection from the attached placenta.

      Neonatal ICU nurse may be interested in the work of UK pediatrician Peter Dunn who reputedly had every baby in his NICU with their placentas attached for several hours to ensure full placental transfusion. See also the work of Landau who prevented respiratory distress among caesarean babies in his care through keeping the placenta attached and hung like a transfusion bag after birth,

      I would be very interested to hear the full story from anyone who believes that lotus birth has caused harm, so that we all can learn.

      Thanks
      Sarah

      • Sarah, Despite some of the other comments, it seems you have the science/medicine in hand. I’m intrigued by your reference to “spiritual practice.” In fact, I’m seeking book manuscripts in the area of spiritual practices on X (here birthing, newborn, and mother?). Tim

  16. Dr,

    Although it feels wrong to call you that as you have no respect as a Dr. should have. The way you spoke about Lotus Birth was not intelligent and it was not true. If you have to slate something you know absolutely nothing about, just to make yourself feel OK about the fact that you have cut your own babies cords or the cords of hundreds of other babies then I am sorry to tell you but you are maing your sorry self look like a damn fool. Dr. Sarah Buckly has the REAL FACTS in her book Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering. You really need to reasses why you are so scared of life and why you feel you have to defend yourself. Does money spring to mind by any chance? http://www.myspace.com/lotusbirthcampaing4babies

    Time are changing and you will get left behind!

  17. […] my post about ‘Lotus Birth‘ referenced in the […]

  18. I just heard of lotus birthing last night and wanted to research it more.

    After having a natural pregnancy and birth, I became such a powerful believer in evolution. And I firmly believe the brilliance of evolution still smashes the knowledge of obstetrics most of the time.

    So before I judge the idea of lotus birth, I wonder, if the placenta has no role after the birth of the baby, why wouldn’t the chord detach in some way on its own during the birthing process after one million years?

    I just don’t think the modern thinking of the placenta’s role matches its designed use yet. And I fully yield that the web site you are mocking isn’t providing solid thinking.

  19. I would have more respect for your ‘research’ and comments about lotus birth if they were not peppered with uncivilized language and judgments about that which you have not experienced. Please tell me how this fits the formula of ‘science-based parenting’. This was not a scientific review of lotus-birth at all but an instant dismissal.

  20. Thank you for posting this. I just heard of lotusbirth a few days ago and can not believe what people will come up with next. The way I see things going, the next fad will be to leave meconium poop on the baby for a few days for some supposed advantage it gives the baby.

  21. by that opinion you might as well toss Einstein, Archimedes, and Leonardo da Vinci in a historical loony bin.
    cuz Einstein didn’t fully understand his own work, which was further developed after he passed away, and has evolved since. and Archimedes ran down his town street shouting I’ve found it, when he discovered displacement(a method for finding volume) and Leonardo drew things like planes, wombs and growing infants inside them, though he didn’t have an ultrasound so he must have been crazy right? it must be a load of crap, all of it right? E=MC2 is a load of crap, theory of reletivity, Infants in the womb, human flight, Displacement as a means of measuring volume of a three dementional object, heck while we’re at it lets toss in one more thing, lets just say the world is the center of our solar system, cuz its a load of crap that we revolve the sun. god forbid that be true.
    oh. and Cells aren’t cells we are made up of one big mushy blob. afterall the mand discovering Cells(giving them their name as well) with the first microscope had no idea what the deal was with “cells” either…

    • sorry this was all in reply to
      “I think I better end on this one. If you want to know whether a claim is complete crap, check whether the claimant appeals to quantum physics. The reason that quantum physics is complete crap is because even quantum physicists don’t understand it. By using the term “quantum” in an argument, a claimant is admitting a complete lack of evidence by appealing to an undeveloped, often misunderstood, scientific theory.”

    • The heliocentric solar system and the theory of relativity are provable claims. Quantum physics can’t be proven or tested, even with the Large Hadron Collider. I’m not saying that quantum physics is impossible, I’m saying that we don’t understand it. Therefore, we should be careful not to abuse the theory to make unsubstantiated claims. It may be true that planets orbit the sun, but that inerrant truth does not mean that the alignment of those planets control our destiny (such as in astrology). Conflating a good theory with a bad idea does not make a proper argument.

  22. Thanks for your web post. I’ve been alarmed at the paucity of scientific evidence that parents use to make potentially life altering decisions. Specifically, I have taken care of a child born after a botched lotus birth who is now neurologically devastated. Unfortunately, the lotus birth proponents don’t include the many real risks, and many parents don’t ask about them.

    • Oh My!

      I’ve kept up with this discussion over the past year, as well as continued to follow the research coming out on this subject. I have yet to feel compelled to add anything further until this last post.

      NOTHING in the literature supports any notion that “lotus birthing” can cause or contribute to neonatal neurological compromise. Neonatal neurological compromise is generally due to a lack of oxygen during pregnancy, labor, or in the immediate post partum due to a lack of oxygen. This can be caused by placental insufficency, infection, congenital heart anomilies, or the use of tocolytic stimulants to induce or agument labor, particularly Cytotec, or other reasons.
      The unsupported statement made by the poster trying to make a causal relationship between neurological damage and “lotus birth” is anecdotal, unsupported, and not helpful in creating a dialogue on this matter.

      This sort of argument is the flimsy reasoning that I run into in dealing with hospital staff on this choice. It is the same as using anecdotal horror stories about homebirth transports which cannot be verified and flow and grow like urban legends.

      I am truly grateful that I have a relationship with an OB who challenges my science in a respectful and engaging fashion, and who values parental autonomy. Because of his true desire to be evidenced based and his acknowledgement of the lack of evidence on this matter, as well as the growing interes in this from neonatologist at my city’s regional children’s hospital, I look forward to posting in the near future that we have a preliminary study going to investigate possible varibles to compare in cord closure timing.

  23. Sorry… but you are clearly bias, mocking what you read. I was looking for an even sided insight into this idea, not a long article mocking another site’s infomation, however odd, paragraph by paragraph.

    I’ll look somewhere else.

    • Good luck on your search for the truth.

  24. I find the posting quite emotional and a clear attack on the whole idea/practice, through a series of subjective, personal feelings on each point, rather than objective, researched support thereof.

    This is further worsened by the author’s lack of experience with this type of birth, or understanding of bioactive molecules (i.e. hormones). Drying does not necessarily destroy these molecules, many of which are very small (i.e. a few amino acids long). Pulverising occurs at the bulk level and this physical change has no effect whatsoever on molecules.

    *(see quantum physics below)*

    Our choice and experience with ‘lotus birth’ – (semantics are inconsequential, yet provide(d) an additional point of subjective attack) – was a very positive one. The dried cord detached after 3 days and the placenta did not ‘rot’, nor stink (have you not ever had uncooked food that you forgot for a few days – and was still not ‘rotting’?).

    Our daughter is exceptionally strong, happy and continues to surprise everyone with her health. We are not sure if it is directly related – or not – to the lotus birth, or if it is related to the consumption of the placenta, in small bits, over the 3 weeks following birth.

    The placenta is full of oxytocin, which stimulates milk production and helps to shrink and heal the uterus. This allows the mother to re-build strength more quickly and to pass this on to the child (whether through molecules, good energy, clamness or otherwise).

    The final points on quantum physics attest to the author relying on emotions and subjective personal views, rather than facts.

    In fact, I am a quantum physicist/chemist and routinely do experiments based on – and in support of – predictions made by quantum mechanics.

    If quantum physics is so incorrect, then why do all the technologies based on it – work ? How possibly can your screen containing liquid crystals, be properly acitvated to show desired colours? How then, do these bits of information get transferred to 0 and 1, then re-assembled into the image, videos, music and information that you are dependent on?

    How about your mobile phopne – why is your phone the only one that rings ? Or UPC codes that are scanned at the grocery – how do they know which product it is ?

    MRI imaging is based on the spins of nucleii. Once aligned in a magnetic field (the ring-like cyclinder patients are introduced-to for scans), can have their spins flipped by a pulse of electromagentic radiation in the radio-wave frequency. The flipping of spins reduces the waves energy by an EXACT QUANTITY (a quanta thereof), healthy vs. unhealthy tissue requiring differing quanta.

    Best – how does the term ‘anti-oxidant’ enter into mainstream language and clearly be related to physiological effects, when most do not even know what a free-radical is ?

    Free radicals are unpaired electrons.
    Quantum effects manifesting themselves at the human level.

    Wake up and stop being so confrontational, negative and attacking things that you have no experience with. The quantum age is here – as is its complement:

    Getting in touch with and re-integrating humans into the cyclic nature OF nature.

    • Here, here! Now that is the kind of substance I was looking for when I stumbled upon the irrational ranting that I found in the above article!

    • Where was the substance, exactly? Did he say anything that remotely proved lotus birth works on the quantum level? The evidence he provided was anecdotal, and even worse, he suggested that I must have some experience with lotus birth if I’m to understand it. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of science and reasoning, and it calls into question his claim that he is a quantum physicist/chemist.

      You supporting this comment tells me that you didn’t come here for answers, but confirmation for your own beliefs.

      • Ticktock you are a very sore sport who just refuse to see both sides of a coin. The article you were ranting about might be very bias but by going to the other extreme makes you just as bias.

        Greg had more eye-opening info to offer than your above article. By the way, any subject about the birthing process be it a natural (home birth, water birth, lotus birth, etc) or a medically-intervened birth is NEVER silly especially to a MOTHER! Please be more respectful.

  25. I wanted to take your article seriously but just couldn’t. When you can’t even refute something without repeatedly cussing it really makes me think you’re a child, not a reputable source.

    • Yeah, don’t take it too seriously. The subject itself is kind of silly.

      • What?! I wouldn’t call the subject of birth “silly”.
        Oh Mr. Doctor, you have made some “silly” comments!

  26. i’m not going to take on the debate about cord clamping, but you might be interested in Dr. Sarah Buckley’s work with 3rd stage labor. She’s definitely not a kook, and she’s also respectful. Check it out, with an open mind.
    http://www.sarahjbuckley.com/articles/lotus-birth.htm

  27. I have a comment on the quantum physics aspect of this thread. I am a PhD candidate in the chemistry (focusing on the synthesis and physics of inorganic nanomaterials- where nanomaterials are those materials whose physical properties can be explained using quantum mechanics or other size effects) and I second the characterization that arguments containing appeals to quantum physics tend to be bogus. The reason is that most appeals to quantum physics are not based in any understanding of the theory but are just using the term to make their arguments sound all science-y and metaphysical.

    The criticized passage fits this criteria perfectly in that it appeals to quantum physics in an irrational fashion that shows a complete lack of fundamental understanding:

    “Quantum physics is slowly influencing a new physics of modern western medicine, wherein the ‘quantum body’ i.e, the inherent wisdom and bliss of the mind-body connection is of foundational importance.”

    Is quantum physics influencing medicine? Absolutely. For example the use of biotagged nanoparticles to destroy cancer cells by utilizing the fact that superparamagnetic crystals can be made to oscillate rapidly generating heat and mechanical stress on cancer cells (superparamagnetic crystals are those with sizes approaching the size of a single magnetic domain of that material- an effect whose explanation requires the use of quantum mechanics).

    It’s not that quantum mechanics is not contributing the the atoms and molecules which make up a baby and placenta and the mother… it’s just that those effects are completely dominated by macroscale physical properties. Additionally, quantum physics has absolutely nothing to say about wisdom or bliss or mind-body anything. I’m not saying I haven’t heard appeals to physics in this regard- quantum theory just doesn’t apply in those situations. It’s not that I’m being narrow minded (which is the common defensive to my criticism). Saying that “quantum theory explains the mind-body connection” is as rational as saying “abstract algebra explains why unicorns have horns”, “second wave feminism explains spark plug failure”, or “game theory explains peanut butter sandwiches”. All that anyone who makes those statements has proven is that they don’t understand abstract algebra, second wave feminism, or game theory.

    However, I would say it is a bit of an overstatement to say that “even quantum physicists don’t understand it” and that they are “appealing to an undeveloped, often misunderstood, scientific theory”. I’d say quantum theory is not quite as defined as the theory of evolution but it is pretty darn close. __Physicists__ understand quantum theory sufficiently to use it to explain the world around us, to create predictive theories which have been proven by experiment, to improve products which enhance our lives, and they continue to learn more every day. _The general population_ misunderstands quantum theory and shows their ignorance by applying it liberally and inappropriately to other random topics.

    (Sweet blog though! I really appreciate the defenders of scientific rational thought. Yay Science!)

  28. Wow! Using words like “crap” and “ass” really speaks to your overall agenda which is to just be angry about anything that is not what you would consider conventional. I’m all for being skeptical and using research proven methods, but you could save the emotional outbursts; it does not help your case AT ALL. I was looking for some actual information and facts, but all you gave was a soapbox speech that did not contain any actual information to counterpoint the article you mentioned. You cannot expect to interject some multisyllabic words and consider yourself “Parenting by science.” I suggest you look up the term the science and next time use actual science to prove your point.

    • I really wouldn’t call them “emotional outbursts”, but I respect your complaint. The fact is that many people who promote lotus birth are making a claim that it’s better. It’s not my job to disprove their claim because they are the one’s making the positive claim. Unfortunately, the science is slim to none, so I have to resort to reasoning (and mockery).

      • Well, perhaps you should have pointed that out at the beginning so that those of us who were expecting a truly scientific review of lotus birth would know that is not what this post is actually going to deliver.

  29. […] delayed clamping is good, “lotus birthers” will tell you no clamping is even better. These people don’t bother cutting. They just […]

  30. I’m with Ticktock and GrossedOut on this one.

    There is no logical medical reason to leave to leave the cord attached longer than necessary (once it has ceased to pulsate). From my observation, delayed cord clamping/cutting has a tendency to lead to greater physiological jaundice and I hate to think of the infection risk of having a piece of drying and rotting flesh attached even partially to a neonate.

    I hate to think of what would happen in a neonatal intensive care unit if the parent insisted on keeping the cord attached to a baby in an isolette with 80% humidity and 31C or 88F temperature – apart from the infection risk to the baby, why should health care staff be exposed to the mother’s vaginal flora …interesting things which we come across such as Group B Streptococcus, Trichomonas vaginalis, Candidiasis,not to mention Herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases – all of that bundled up with a baby, the thought of which makes my stomach churn.

    Most babies are detached from the umbilica stump within a week. Some remain longer in more moist environments, or if the baby is bathed before the cord is detached, or wrapped in synthetic clothing.

    I can’t think of any physiological, metaphysical Quantum physical or rational physchological justification to not clamp/cut and detach the baby from the placents for more than 30 minutes after delivery.

    • psychological – just to prove I can spell it LOL

  31. I am repeating my post above, the basic physiology of cord closure, as it looks like people have not read it.

    Also, for ICU nurse, large studies and reviews have not found an excess of pathological jaundice among late-clamped babies, but there may be an increase in physiological jaundice, which is beneficial to the baby by providing the antioxidant properties of bilirubin at a critical time in free radical formation. See.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15173506

    As the cord naturally closes, blood flow to and from the placenta decreases, so, to reassure “grossed out” there is no chance of the following, not matter how delayed cord clamping is..

    “having to pump blood to an organ (for the better lack of a word) that serves no purpose can actually cause hypovolaemia (low blood volume) which leads to hypoperfusion (low blood to tissues) which causes hypoxic damage (cells and shit die without enough oxygen). it can also cause fluid shifts which also means that electrolytes aren’t maintained (things like potassium and sodium) to a level needed by, again, annoying organs like the heart and brain.”

    BTW the placenta is an organ albeit external to the baby, that fulfils the functions of kidney, liver, skin, lungs and gut for the developing baby

    Also, the extra blood that is pumped to the baby with delayed cord clamping actually optimises the transition from fetal to neonatal circulation, for example providing the circulatory volume necessary for closure of the atrial septum and to clear the lungs by increasing colloid osmotic pressure- see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11911621

    For “grossed out” again, it is illogical to suggest putting a drip in a sick newborn, if it is to correct low blood volume, when the “placental transfusion” that Mother Nature provides gives a very adequate volume. See the physiology explained here
    http://www.sarahjbuckley.com/articles/leaving-well-alone.htm

    In fact, the main reason a sick newborn has the cord clamped early is because the resuscitation equipment is not available near the mother.

    The following is suggested by obstetrician Andrew Weeks in the British Medical Journal (link below). “… babies born by caesarean section or for those who need support soon after birth. … may benefit most from a delay in cord clamping. For them, a policy of “wait a minute” would be pragmatic.11 Indeed, this first minute is already largely spent on neonatal assessment. This could be done in warmed towels on the birthing bed or the mother’s abdomen after vaginal delivery, or on the mother’s legs at caesarean section.

    Mainstream medical opinion is moving towards delayed clamping, which not only reduces the risk of anemia in infancy (This http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17445128 and other studies) but also ensures a good supply of red cells to oxygenate the newborn (red cell numbers are around halved by immediate cord clamping) See this BMJ editorial http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17703005 and this JAMA review http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17374818

    It has recently been suggested, radical as it may seem, that the baby’s own stem cells from “umbilical cord blood” are beneficial at the time to the baby, and harm from early clamping may include loss of stem cells http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20141549

    Lotus born babies receive all the above benefits of delayed cord clamping.

    As a lotus birth writer and advocate, I have no problem that you find it unscientific. In fact, it is a spiritual practice, and all that is necessary is that it causes no harm. (Although I have to add that there are many advantages, such as keeping mother and baby together after birth, reducing newborn handling by foreign people and keeping the baby secluded within the native bacteriological environment in the early days rather than being taken out where foreign bacteria and viruses can cause infection)

    Anecdotally, I have heard the stories of perhaps hundreds of lotus births and have been asked to comment in many different situations.
    I have never seen any harms that could be attributed to lotus birth I agree that we could do with some research to exclude the possibility of uncommon harms, but I cannot see any mechanism whereby this could cause harm.

    For example, any bacteria that coat the placenta are from the mother’s birth canal and also coat the baby, so I do not see any extra risk of infection from the attached placenta.

    Neonatal ICU nurse may be interested in the work of UK pediatrician Peter Dunn who had every unwell baby in his NICU with their placentas attached for several hours to ensure full placental transfusion. See also the work of Landau who prevented respiratory distress among caesarean babies in his care through keeping the placenta attached and hung like a transfusion bag after birth,

    I would be very interested to hear the full story from anyone who believes that lotus birth has caused harm, so that we all can learn.

    Thanks
    Sarah

    • Thank you Sarah for your intelligent researched and experienced based reply. In my experience with delayed cord clamping and cutting (minimum 3 hours) and lotus birth, (my own grandson, and many dozens more) is that no harm is done. Sarah has adequately outlined the benefits of just peacefully leaving the baby, cord and placenta intact. On the other hand, clamping and cutting the umbilical cord most often is done with a plastic cord clamp, which presses against the newborn Baby’s belly each time s/he breastfeeds. Press one of these clamps against your own belly. It hurts! In fact, it is easy to observe these clamps sabotaging the baby’s first feeds. Lotus birth does not hurt the Baby. the standard medically advised and most often used cord clamp does hurt. Also, the banking of cord blood is a business. It requires that the Baby’s umbilical cord is immediately clamped and cut so that an adequate amount of the BABY’s blood (including stem cells) may be harvested. This prevents the Baby getting his or her adequate blood supply at birth. Stem cell banking robs your baby of the research proven benefits of adequate iron stores. It is a business based on misguided use technology. In choosing lotus birth for my grandson, my family did so thoughtfully, having considered the research. But, at the end of the day, it was clear that my son and daughter~in~love had bonded to their baby intact, with his cord and placenta, and it would harm the mother to see this umbilical cord cut. As a midwife, I cannot bear to do harm. Lotus birth may not be for everyone, however… long delays in the clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord really would benefit babies.
      Let us live in peace, Ibu Robin Lim
      Author of “Placenta the Forgotten Chakra” a book dedicated to making gentle birth more gentle.

  32. i was considering how i wanted my children to be born
    and i think anything that doesnt harm the baby, should be left up to the parents claims, but as an expectant parent its irresponsible for articles like the one that you were mocking to even exist. those ideas about the pioneers and all that uselessness are baseless and riddiculous. the placenta naturally comes out of the mother beacuse it will decay and a deattatched piece can turn her septic. im going to save my baby’s cord blood but im definetely not going to put my rotting placenta in a bowl next to my living, breathing, baby. just because you salt it doesnt make it alive, and if no blood is being transfered to the baby, then there is no reason to leave the placenta laying beside it.

  33. While I’m not a proponent of Lotus birth per se, I will say you should never site Dr. Amy Teuter if you want educated parents, doulas, childbirth educators, midwives, and many OB’s to take your comments as credible. SImply using AT as a source made this whole thing unpalatable in my book.

  34. All these homebirth/midwife births really make me wonder what is wrong with these people! Are they yearning for the Hippy life, have a sixties attitude?
    This is 2011 not 1811. All these negative reasons for not going to a hospital to give birth in a safe, sterile environment amaze me.
    So many things can go wrong in childbirth. The doctor saved me and my baby’s life!
    Lotus, smotus!! Go to the hospital to deliver the most precious gift in life. Your BABY!!

    • i am daily amazed at how our societal propaganda has managed to make us believe that childbirth is dangerous, and that “something can go wrong”.

      if birth was dangerous, how would we have survived the first thousands and thousands of years?!?

      unfortunately, mothers and babies are too often “saved” after complications that were created (not on purpose, obviously, but by ignorance).

      i would suggest reading some research about the topic of birth before making the assumption that hospital is the safest place to birth a baby.

      namaste.

      paule

      • In fact, many women did not survive childbirth, hospital or otherwise. Having a baby is both the most natural and the most dangerous thing a woman can do in her lifetime. There are many different things that can and do go wrong on a daily basis, such as: STDs, Breech births, hemorrhaging, and obstructed labor.
        I do believe that childbirth is not a disease and should not be treated as such, but I also believe that the best place to give birth is somewhere where emergency medical intervention is readily available.
        I have read the literature about Lotus birth, but the concept of leaving a decaying piece of flesh attached to a neonate, and possibly leading to illness from exposure to necrotic tissue, just does not seem in the best interest of the child.
        Most of the advocates for this practice use the term “spiritual” to describe it. Yes, childbirth can be a spiritual experience, but it is also a dirty and dangerous experience, as well.
        Ms. Buckley’s assertion that: “For example, any bacteria that coat the placenta are from the mother’s birth canal and also coat the baby, so I do not see any extra risk of infection from the attached placenta.” clearly ignores the possibility of HIV or other STDs that can be contracted through the blood and fluids that are present in the birth canal. In these cases it is imperative to remove those fluids from the child and reduce exposure to them.
        I have no problem with the proven experience of a trained midwife assisting in the birth process. I think that childbirth should be as natural as possible. Not everyone is the same, though. What works for one family can be extremely dangerous for another. Having medical assistance available is always a good idea.

  35. Thank you Sarah, for posting your comments! Lotus birth among my doula clients is not usually done, but delayed clamping is. Even so, one of the main reasons that cord clamping is usually not delayed for more than 3-5 minutes (which really us not delayed much at all!) is because until the baby is severed from the mom, the baby remains the responsibility of the OB as opposed to the Ped. Even in situations where they wait say, 5 minutes, instead of leaving that cord alone, they hold it to feel when it supposedly stops pulsing in order to still cut it as soon as possible. I wish everyone would just leave the cord alone! Imagine hospital lotus birth! That would be revolutionary! It is with things like Lotus birth that we come to see that really, parents do not have the right to choose what they want.

    To Michelle, hospitals are far from sanitary and as far as germs go, you and your baby are better off at home in an environment with germs you are used to than in an environment with new germs. Risk of hospital acquired infection is growing with a whopping 99,000 deaths a year according to this article http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/27/business/27germ.html?em=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1267412412-yP2bfl/3pu4+g34XVmluJA

  36. Ok- for the record: The cord and the placenta do not NECROTIZE! That is cellular death from disease. It APOPTOSIZES!!!!! Which is programed “Cell Death”.

    This happens often when stem cell release is happening from bone or other tissue. Because the umbilicus and fetal side of the placenta are rich in myogenic stem cells, the Wharton’s Jelly around the cord “collapses/apoptasizes releasing the myogenic stem cells into the umbilical artery.

    http://edrv.endojournals.org/content/14/2/133.abstract
    “The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Programmed Cell Death”

    And here is the Googol Scholar Search page with “apoptosis Wharton’s Jelly Umbilical myogenic stem cells” as the search parameters.
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=apoptosis+Wharton%27s+Jelly+umbilical+myogenic+stem+cells&btnG=Search&as_sdt=0%2C18&as_ylo=&as_vis=1

    It’s a little ironic here that the “hippy midwives” here are actually referencing science and facts, AND reading and synthesizing in vitro work and animal models. That IS Science, not Little House on the Prairie.

    The onus of making a well reasoned scientifically based argument for the practice of physiological cord closure may be on the shoulders of the HIppy Dippy, however I get a little testy when the “other side” get’s to spout emotional, judgmental, outdated information that I don’t see anyone bothering to back up with a single recent study. That is just intellectually dishonest.

    Tracey Johnstone

    • My repect goes out to you. Thank you.

  37. The second edition of ‘Lotus Birth’ will go to press in the next few weeks. Ten years after the first edition it has more material to wonder at and argue about.
    Being totally objective is a challenge as we have all had a placenta and our experience of it echoes through our thoughts and feelings. We have found that the exploration of sensitivity around the navel can lead to the recovery of body memory of placental trauma.
    Recently the CRI (cranial reflex impulse) matching the baby’s has been identified in the placenta during the days after birth. This suggests that the placenta is alive and functioning for longer that some may have thought possible in ways that we are yet to articulate fully.
    We need to be wiling to allow that the subtle energies familiar to eastern medical systems actually do exist even though our western paradigm has yet to embrace that reality.
    The ongoing reports from parents on the development and well being of these lotusborn children over the past 20years only encourages me to be more audacious.
    Keeping the placenta undisturbed has shown to be most advantageous for babies born via abdominal surgery. This has surprised pediatricians with babies not needing to go to the nursery for observation as their respiratory system stabilized themselves quickly after birth. These babies have been spared aggressive resuscitation procedures. A much better imprint for the baby.
    Love to all.

  38. Ticktock,

    Birth, as designed by nature, is not an “uncontrolled experiment”. Anything aside from the way things are naturally, was at one point an experiment. Going back to nature is not antiquated but a sincere and valid effort to make sure we didn’t over look something of importance along the way. If we were supposed to rid of the placenta by cutting it, we would be born with a pair of scissors to do so. I’m not saying that cutting the cord has not made things more convenient. But if there is no proof that leaving it intact is of danger to the babe or mother then I find it pointless to mock and stand up against something that is purely the way our bodies have been perfectly designed to function.

  39. I really appreciate posts like this that make a point to try NOT to make fun of the article, but really go point by point of why they disagree (especially from the point of view you have taken). I respect your point of view, but as a mother… I consider delayed clamping and severance seems like a totally valid ritual for someone wanting the best possible start for their brand new baby. I agree strongly with your statement here: “…there is no rational reason to leave the placenta attached longer than a few hours, at the most. By then, the nutrients have traveled to the baby, and the placenta has become a lump of rotting dead tissue.” I feel as though the person in the article you have chosen is trying really hard to push this more extreme version of this practice as a ritual in so many different ways, but without being very convincing when really looking into each statement.

  40. Well friends, I claim no relationship to lotus birth other than working as a doula I run into all kinds and I feel a professional responsibility to be educated on all options. All I can say to the writer of this blog is… as unsubstantiated as the article you read may or may not be, your writing is equally unfounded. Furthermore, to make your arguments more digestable I would have picked the most rational, intelligent article supporting lotus birth and tried to debunk that. The article you chose was just silly and not worth the commentary. I can find equally ridiculous articles on Judaism, Christianity, healthy eating, and so much more. There are odd people in every bunch, it is the smart ones you want to par off with because then if you win…. it was a victory worth the fight and if you lose… you still gained valuable, worth while insight. Can you tell me what you have accomplished other than sparking a debate amongst people as opinionated as pro-lifers and pro-choicers? Granted, some of the information listed in the comments has been fascinating and worth deeper review, but then that says something about what you wrote if the comments of a blog are more meaningful than the originial work to the casual reader.

    • It’s been several years since I wrote this. At the time, the article I referenced was one of the only explanations I could find on the topic. Yes, it’s amazing how the conversation grows in the years after an article is written. Unfortunately, some contribute to the conversation more than others (hint hint). I’m not on an agenda to debunk anything. If there’s a well written article with evidence supporting the claims made by lotus birthers, I’d love for you to share with the rest of the class. Otherwise, I stand by attacking the claims of lotus birthers (outrageous as my example may be) and not the choice of lotus birth. Do you understand the difference?

  41. Placenta has many functions in the womb during intra-uterine life of unborn baby. Placenta like an identical twin of unborn baby. Placenta still has function after baby born. The function of placenta after born is to help umbilical cord dry and relief quicker then if an umbilical cord was cut. Placenta like a toy for baby to accompany baby in her/his early days life. Please give baby and placenta to decide for relief time or separated time by naturally. Be wise, be patience. This is not based on basic logic only but also based on heart of nature. Thank you so much.


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