What Is A “Lotus Birth"? Here’s Why Some Moms On TikTok Are Refusing To Cut The Umbilical Cord After Giving Birth

The "lotus birth" videos on TikTok have gone viral, and it's received mixed reactions as a result. But why are moms deciding to leave their babies attached to the placenta?

By Nicole Dominique2 min read
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Alice (@alicellani) has grown in popularity on TikTok for sharing her lotus birth journey with her son. In just one day, her recent video reached over 3 million views. She writes: "What does it look like when a baby gets to keep an extra $50k worth of their cord & stem cells?" Alice proceeds to share the joyful expressions on her baby's face in the next clip. But even though Alice's content seems wholesome, her videos have caused mixed reactions from the public. Some users who believe in the benefits of lotus births find Alice's videos informative. Others – like doctors or healthcare professionals on TikTok – have responded to her video in disapproval. But what exactly is a lotus birth, and why is it causing so much chaos on the platform? 

Simply put, a "lotus birth" is leaving the umbilical cord uncut after a baby is born. Instead of immediately detaching the cord from the baby (like how it's traditionally done in a hospital setting), it's left alone to fall off on its own for the next three to ten days after birth. The mothers preserve the placenta that the baby is attached to with salt or herbs. Supporters of the practice believe that the baby will receive a stronger immune system, an improvement in blood circulation, and a reduction in "psychological trauma."

What Are the Benefits of a Lotus Birth?

Proponents of lotus births believe that by not cutting the cord, a baby can avoid the feelings of shock, fear, and pain, and will instead feel safe with the attached placenta the newborn spent months with in the womb. Unfortunately, lotus births are currently understudied in the academic world. What most supporters cite is a study from years ago that concluded delayed cord clamping was associated with less need for transfusion, better circulation, improvement in iron levels, less hemorrhage, and a decreased risk of necrotizing enterocolitis. However, the delayed cord-cutting was only by 30 to 120 seconds and not days.

One Doctor Shares Her Thoughts

The almost nonexistent studies on this topic have been greatly overshadowed by doctors who are highly skeptical of lotus births. Shannon M. Clark, MD, garnered millions of views on her TikTok about lotus birth. She believes that the practice has zero medical benefits and is more of a "spiritual" practice. Dr. Clark adds that leaving a baby attached to a placenta could also be dangerous. "The decomposing tissue of the placenta is at high risk of getting infected with bacteria," she explains. "And this infection, if it occurs, can be spread to the neonate that's attached to the placenta."

According to Dr. Clark, there are numerous case reports of hepatitis, infection of the heart, sepsis, and an infection of the umbilical cord stem from lotus births. "As a result, expert opinion does not recommend the practice of lotus birth," she adds. 

Closing Thoughts

TikTok still boasts many moms who are in support of lotus births despite this information – and most of their babies come out looking happy and healthy! This shows that lotus births are most likely not going away soon (it seems more women are doing it). Thus, the non-severance of the umbilical cord should be further studied as the practice continues to increase so that moms can safely perform it for cultural or health purposes without worries for their babies.

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