Portarit of a mum looking tenderly down on her baby while breastfeeding
02/11/2018 By AskAwayHealth

Is The Lotus Birth For You? – Part 2

In the second and final part of this series on the Lotus birth, we look at how safe the method is in other parts of the world such as African countries like Nigeria.

Portarit of a mum looking tenderly down on her baby while breastfeeding

Introduction

In part 1, we defined the Lotus birth and described the process also learning its origins and parts of the world where it seems to be developing some renewed popularity.

We also learned about the special organ called the placenta and how it works.

To remind us:

A Lotus Birth is the process of leaving the cord and placenta to detach naturally in the days after birth.

This is different from the traditional method of cutting and clamping the cord after the baby’s delivery.

Now let’s consider how the practicalities may encourage the use (or not) of the Lotus birth method in some places.


Would Lotus birth work in Nigeria?

How do the environment and culture in Nigeria and other West African countries affect Lotus Births?

Lotus births are different from some belief systems that give special significance to the placenta.

In these, some mums / families may wish to go home with their placenta and dispose of it according to their tradition.

In this scenario, the usual practice of cutting the umbilical cord occurs with bagging and delivery of the placenta and cord to the mum/her family.

The practice of Lotus birth, however, is not popular in Nigeria and many other West African countries.

It is also not a component of the training curriculum by the National and West African Colleges of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.


The risks with Lotus Birth

Given general environmental challenges impacting health care delivery in most West African countries, one can understand the position of training and regulatory bodies on Lotus birth:

Firstly, the placenta is a fleshy spongy tissue with bed rich with blood vessels and blood.

It is therefore excellent medium for infection as soon as it is delivered and exposed to environment.

There are high rates of healthcare-associated infection in Nigeria and growing resistance to antimicrobial agents.

With a relatively weak healthcare system, the potential risks that Lotus birth exposes the baby and mum would outweigh its potential benefits.

Methods of preservation by Lotus birth practitioners include rock salt and flowers.

The latter helps to ward off nasty smells, and the former a preservative but …is that sufficient?

Some people store the placenta in a cool bag kept beside the baby.

How would this work in the average Nigerian setting?

What about availability in Nigeria of the cold bag used in storing the placenta and the additional costs?

What about the care needed in keeping the placenta clean?

Irrespective of socioeconomic class relative to affordability, what about the effects of relative humidity in local weather conditions ?

What about the many visitors and well-wishers, naming ceremony events and other activities that happen just after birth?

These practices are embedded in local Nigerian and other West African cultures; how would the whole arrangement work?


Conclusion

So apart from the potential infections and related complications, Lotus Birth seems to be impractical as a birth choice in the Nigerian setting.

While DCC has benefits and should be encouraged, full Lotus birth protocol would bring additional challenges especially in the Nigerian setting.

Even for Nigerians that can afford to have their birth attended in cleaner, more advanced settings locally, the risks of infection and the practicality must be weighed carefully against the benefits to make consequential decisions of birth.

What do you think?

As usual, your thoughts make a great part of the story!

Stay Well

(Original version published in LagosMums 25th April 2017)

More Reading:

Editing by AskAwayHealth Team

Disclaimer

All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly through info@askawayhealth.org

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