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Overview of Lotus Birth
Lotus birth is the practice of leaving the umbilical cord intact after bith. The child remains connected to the placenta via the umbilical cord until the cord falls off the baby naturally. This process takes 3-5 days; proponents believe that this allows time for the child to absorb all nutrients, cord blood, and hormones that usually remain in the cord and are lost when it is cut.
Spiritually, advocates of lotus birth believe that the process allows child and mother to remain connected as long as possible. The placenta is treated as an important body part, and is handled with care (instead of being treated as medical waste). This process is believed to reduce stress levels for both mother and baby.
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In modern hospital births, the placenta is often treated as a waste product. It is disposed of as hazardous material in most hospitals - generally by incineration. In a lotus birth, however, the placenta remains attached to the child, and is carefully wrapped in cloth and carried along with the baby. It is often salted or treated with herbs to avoid decay.
Once it falls off, the placenta is disposed of with honor - often buried at the roots of a new tree, which is believed to grow with a special connection to the child. Lotus birth, along with the special treatment of the placenta, is common in Bali, New Zealand, and many Asian countries. It is growing in popularity in the U.S., especially among homebirthers.
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Planning a Lotus Birth
If you plan to birth at home, you can simply plan your Lotus birth along with your other birthing plans. However, if you plan to birth in a hospital or birthing center, you may need to educate the staff about your choices. While many health care practitioners will be willing to help you achieve the birth you desire, others may be concerned about the risk of exposure to diseases, blood, etc. It may be wise to check with your specific facility well in advance of the birth, so that all parties can be prepared.