Mum tells why she left baby's placenta attached for six days

Lotus birth advocates stay 'connected' to their newborn via their placenta until it detaches naturally.
Lotus birth advocates stay 'connected' to their newborn via their placenta until it detaches naturally. Photo: Getty Images

A British mother left her newborn baby attached to the placenta and umbilical cord for six days, keeping the afterbirth "smelling pleasant" with rock salt, rose petals, and carrying it around in a cooler bag.

The process - known as a lotus birth - has attracted advocates around the world who believe infants are put under unnecessary stress when they are cut off from the remainder of the blood supply from the placenta.

It also gives mother and baby a chance to bond in the first hour without the baby being separated for standard post-partum checks. 

Adele Allen's son Ulysses, 5, was born using this technique. The process felt so instinctual to Allen that she decided on a lotus birth for her second baby as well. 

In a blog post on mum.me, Allen said she sprinkled the placenta with a coating of rock salt and rose petals before wrapping it in muslin cloths which were changed every few days.

"For easy transport, the placenta was then placed into a hand-held cooler bag which kept everything clean and aerated," she wrote.

Allen says the benefits of lotus birth are the same as delayed cord clamping, "ensuring your baby receives the full 30–50 per cent remainder of their blood supply, which continues pulsating through the cord from the placenta for around three to 10 minutes after birth, and finally receiving their vital stem cells".

"This extended period of literally remaining connected ensured I could bond successfully with both my babies without any interference or unnecessary weighing, bathing or medical tests," she said.

The World Health Organisation says that while there is evidence of benefits to delayed cord clamping, keeping the cord attached to the placenta long-term can carry an infection risk. 

In 2009, women were warned against lotus births because there is no evidence of benefit to the baby and, while mothers have the right to make informed choices about birth and afterbirth options, they should be aware of the risks associated with the lotus birth process. 

 - Stuff