Lotus birth (or umbilical nonseverance) is the practice of leaving the umbilical cord uncut after childbirth so that the baby is left attached to the placenta until the cord naturally separates at the umbilicus, usually a few days after birth. 
The birth process is a huge transition for the fetal circulation, as it changes from getting oxygen from the maternal circulation via the placenta through the umbilical cord, to getting oxygen via the baby's lungs. Clamping the umbilical cord is thought to be an important means of increasing the arterial blood pressure in the neonatal circulation, thereby increasing the flow of blood to critical structures (like the heart and brain), diverting blood away from structures that are not useful after birth (the placenta), and finally assisting the circulation to mature. Although a neonate can survive with the placenta intact and the umbilical cord will eventually fall off on its own, this will reduce the baby's cardiac reserve, and therefore decrease its ability to fight infectious and environmental stresses. As the tissue in the placenta dies, the blood flow to these regions will gradually reduce, but microorganisms that are inhabiting the rotting placenta cannot be protected from entering the neonatal circulation via the umbilical vein, which may cause the baby to become seriously unwell or even die.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has stated, "If left for a period of time after the birth, there is a risk of infection in the placenta which can consequently spread to the baby. The placenta is particularly prone to infection as it contains blood. At the post-delivery stage, it has no circulation and is essentially dead tissue," and the RCOG strongly recommends that any baby that undergoes lotus birthing be monitored closely for infection.
- Walsh, Denis Patrick (2007). Evidence-based care for normal labour and birth: a guide for midwives. New York: Routledge. p. 133. ISBN 0-415-41890-9.
- "RCOG statement on umbilical non-severance or 'lotus birth'". Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. 1 December 2008. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
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