Usually, the dad or someone present at the birth would cut the umbilical cord from the baby within a couple minutes. A "lotus birth" involves leaving the placenta attached to your baby and letting it fall off naturally. Letting it naturally fall off can take anywhere from three to ten days! So basically you have to cart the placenta everywhere you take the baby.
2. What are the purported benefits of a lotus birth?
Proponents of the lotus birth concept claim that by leaving the placenta and umbilical cord attached to the baby as long as possible, there is a decreased chance of infection where the umbilical cord is clamped. However, the placenta is particularly prone to infection since it contains blood (a great medium for bacteria to grow in). By leaving the placenta connected to the baby for long periods of time, there is actually a higher risk of transfer of infection from the placenta to the baby.
Another proposed benefit is that by leaving the cord attached to the baby for a long period of time, this allows for complete transfer of cord blood and all those nutrients to the baby. So, the umbilical cord usually stops pulsating between 3-5 minutes. Are there benefits to delayed cord clamping? The answer is yes, but for preterm infants. Delayed cord clamping usually involves waiting between 25 seconds to 3 minutes in preterm infants. Studies have shown that delayed cord clamping in preterm infants has resulted in fewer blood transfusions, a 50% reduction in intraventricular hemorrhage (brain bleeds, which are common in preterm infants) and necrotizing enterocolitis (a disease which can destroy the wall of the intestine). Delayed cord clamping in term infants, however, was actually associated with increased need for phototherapy for jaundice and an increased risk of polycythemia, especially in locations at a higher altitude. So if delayed cord clamping is not of any benefit for term infants and can potentially be harmful, can you imagine what benefit leaving your baby attached to dead placental tissue with no circulation for ten days could be? Not to mention the odor as the placenta begins to rot and decay!
3. So what do other mammals do?
Do they allow their young to be attached to the placenta until it falls off naturally? No, they eat it! The major reason mammals eat their placenta is because they are trying to avoid having a bloody temptation for predators next to the mother and baby.
If you decide you want to proceed with a lotus birth, you can purchase a lotus bag- a cotton lined bag with drawstrings with an earthy print. It's available on Etsy for $67.69, and it comes with an herb mix for the odor. Also, don't forget to give the placenta a salt bath, which helps reduce the odor and helps with the drying process.