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.]