4 Things Doctors Want You To Know About Lotus Births

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Even though mammals have been giving birth since basically the beginning of time, humans are still trying to figure out new and "cooler" ways to do it. Enter the lotus birth, a controversial procedure enjoying some popularity right now, in which a person keeps their placenta and umbilical cord intact after delivering a baby. The newborn baby then stays tethered to the placenta — kind of like a lotus flower, a ball and chain, or an oversized keychain that also happens to be a beautiful pile of biomedical waste.
Yes, really. But it's not always as extreme as it sounds. Technically, if a person waits three minutes or longer to clamp the umbilical cord, it can be considered a lotus birth, explains Lindsey Bliss, a birth doula and director at Carriage House Birth in Brooklyn. But some people keep the cord and placenta attached for days and just wait until they fall off naturally: That scenario is considered a full lotus birth, Bliss says. Lotus births are already pretty popular in Australia and the UK, and the technique is starting to catch on in some communities in the US as well.
A lotus birth sounds inconvenient at best. Plus, delivered placentas and the alleged benefits from consuming them post-birth are already polarising. So you can probably imagine that the act of dragging yours around after you've given birth would be, too.
Yet, there are many complex and personal reasons why people decide to go for it. If you're intrigued by lotus births, ahead are expert answers to four big questions about the process — plus very candid opinions about the trend.