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Newest Birthing Trend: Don't Cut the Umbilical Cord

Some mothers forgo modern obstetric facilities in hospitals and have births at home and assisted by midwives. The latest trend in this natural childbirth movement is called Lotus Birth. Participants don't cut the umbilical cord connecting the child to the placenta. Instead, they keep the placenta in a bowl and wait for the umbilical cord to wither away naturally. Madeline Scinto of the New York Post interviewed Mary Ceallaigh, a widwife and advocate for Lotus Birth:

Q: What are the best reasons to practice Lotus Birth?

There’s no wound created at the umbilical site, which lessens the chance of infection.

It allows a complete transfer of placental/cord blood into the baby at a time when the baby needs that nourishment the most. Babies’ immune systems are going through huge changes at a very rapid rate when they’re first born. Not disrupting the baby’s blood volume at that time helps prevent future disease.

The mother and baby benefit from having all the focused placed on bonding, rather than the common focus of "who's going to cut the cord, cut the bond?" Invading the natural process when there's a healthy mother and baby is likely to cause harm in some way seen or unseen.

The respect of all of what a woman conceives, not just part of it. [...]

Q: How do you eat meals, go to the restroom or run errands with a placenta attached to your newborn?

The cord usually dries and breaks off by the third day, so no mother would be running errands during that time anyway...hopefully not until at least the fourth week after giving birth!

In humid conditions, however, it may take up to 10 days for the cord to break, particularly in areas like Bali or the Australian rainforest. In these cases, the early weeks after giving birth is even more low key for the mother - and that can be a good thing....

While the placenta remains attached, it’s kept in a nice cloth, and the cord is wrapped in silk or cotton ribbon. Babies are left on a safe surface or with a caregiver while the mother goes to the restroom. For cuddling and nursing, the placenta pillow is kept near the mother and baby.

Link -via Inhabitots | Photo: Taxiarchos228


Great contextual intro John, thank you. Typo alert: the word is "midwife"

Umbilical nonseverance is a normal practice in current Balinese birth centers served by professional staff, and super-delayed cord cutting (taking place an hour or more after the birth) has been a part of human culture for thousands of years. In drug-free births, immediate bonding is a huge neurochemical event, and it's very easy to hold a baby skin-to-skin with the flexible cord there. Holding the amazing newborn, as it finds its way to latch on for the first breastfeeding (usually within the first hour postpartum) should be the focus - not the distraction of the medically-convenient cord cutting ritual.

If parents wish to cut the cord at some point, there are many hours ahead in which to choose WHEN, and it's the child's human right to have all of its self respected (the cord and placenta are created by the same sperm & egg that made the baby... they are not maternal waste or anything like that...). Tribal people revered the cord & the placenta as the Tree of Life, and it is: without its many months of proper functioning and tremendous filtering protection, that child would not have lived. Show some respect.
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I've seen a lot said about delayed clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord in medical research, but by which they mean by only a couple minutes. There is a minor thing or two that it seems to increase the risk for, but are incredibly minor in the big scheme of things. But typically the fluid transfer through the umbilical cord is done within a couple minutes, so I'm not sure what the benefit would be of going any longer than that. And the process of clamping and cutting the cord is quite quick if you aren't trying to make a circus out of it, so it isn't some massive barrier in mother-baby interaction. Additionally, a lot of place still seem to leave a fair bit of cord on and allow it to dry off, so cutting after a couple minutes will not offer any more infection chance than not cutting or damage, as in either case where the cord attaches is still allowed to dry out on its own.
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Since she's talking about women who won't have to go out and run errands for at least four weeks after the birth, she's not talking about me when I had babies, or anyone else I've ever met. I guess if women have so much free time and assistance that they can wrap a placenta and tote it around, more power to them. But I agree with the other posters who point out that animals chew off the placenta pretty promptly, so you could argue that keeping it is actually the subversion of the natural process.
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Actually, Primatologist Jane Goodall reported that chimpanzees DO NOT sever their cords. The mother rests with the baby for a day or two, moving just for the basics. Chimpanzees being the most "evolved" mammals with whom humans share the most genetic material (and chimps are monagamous and co-parenting), this could be something to consider.

As far as the appeal of natural childbirth goes... as birth is not a disease, it is not necessarily advantageous to interfere with it. In fact, the extent that the natural neurochemistry of birth is allowed to happen determines how well lactation kicks in, and how pleasurable it is for the mother.

Unlike dental surgery, where dead or decayed matter is removed or operated on, a baby is a very complex, living being with highly functional sensory systems, particularly if it is not drugged. In fact, the Word Health Organization has recommends that interventions upon natural physiological birth should be avoided if at all possible, and that unnecessary procedures upon the mother & child should be greatly reduced unless proven to increase health.

In a world of where "making use" of medical interventions is common and we have a 40% postpartum depression rate and where the U.S. is 29th on the global list of countries with the best Infant Mortality prevention, humanizing birth might in fact be an urgent matter.

It seems to me that the point is not about whether people choose Lotus Birth or not, it's about questioning the extreme disregard given to the powerful medicine of undisturbed birth & bonding. It's about waiting 20 minutes or an hour before cutting the cord, so that full attention is given bonding and and amazing newborn, rather than distracted into separation rituals.
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Birth may not be a disease but i've heard it can be slightly painful, I myself found it painful and also needed medical intervention to speed things up. My baby had his umbilical cord cut as soon as he was born and does not appear to have developed cloven hooves or anything since he was born, Nor do the many other billions of children who have their umbilical cords cut. I think this is for the likes of celebs who never actually have to lift a finger with their children, Not normal everyday mums who have to actually get up and do things after their baby is born.
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Every mother needs a healthy extended family, and every child needs a mother who is conscious. The Balinese are a very economically poor people, but their extended family system and lotus birth practices are rich in meaning and encouragement. Mothers are totally free to get up and do things doing a lotus birth if they require themselves to - are you thinking that somehow the mother is attached to the cord or placenta??? The postpartum woman is advised to focus on nursing, eating, resting, and cuddling the first few weeks - to have a 'babymoon' - and you don't have to be wealthy to do that necessarily. In Britain and Sweden, there are government home visit nurses, in the U.S. there are postpartum doulas, some of whom volunteer or do trade/barter for services.
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