"I first heard about lotus births from my husband. He was following a raw vegan family on a website called The Raw Food World, and they had chosen to have lotus births. So he brought the idea to me, we talked about it, and we both felt strongly this is what we wanted to do with our babies after birth.

"When a baby is born there are so many sudden changes to their little bodies: Bright lights, noises, smells, etc. It can be such a shock to go from womb to world. In the womb, baby spends nine months with the placenta and umbilical cord, so it just felt like one less shock to our baby after birth, keeping them connected until they separate naturally.

"We also began reading more about the benefits of delayed cord clamping and cutting. Reading online and conversing with friends who'd had lotus births really helped us figure out how to go about it all, as it was quite new territory for us too.

"Our midwife was very supportive. She helped us feel this was a natural choice and she would help us make it happen. In Miami, where both of our children (now aged three and six years) were born, it is common to have homebirths - which is what we chose to do - and quite easy to find midwives. So things might go a little differently with baby number three, which we are expecting to be born here in the UAE in March 2019...

You may also be interested in: 'Why this Dubai-based nutritionist ate her baby's placenta'

Jenny pregnant with her daughter, who she had a lotus birth with in 2012

"Although we were prepared for our homebirths and lotus birth with both children, we were definitely less than prepared for what turned out to be surprise one-hour births! Both babies were born at our home in one hour, with just my husband and me there. He had to catch the babies because our midwife, no matter how early we could've called her, just could not arrive in time. The babies were too fast.

"This changed our lotus birth preparations just a bit. I had intended to make pretty, waterproof pouches with herbs and salts for the placenta. We had no time for any of those preparations, so after the babies were born, my midwife helped me birth the placenta, she checked and cleaned it, then wrapped it and put it into a Ziplock bag, which I then later placed into a little purse.

"It was awkward at first for family members who wanted to hold our baby, as they also had to figure out how to hold her extra placental companion comfortably! But by the time we had our son they were all used to it and it wasn't as awkward. We also figured out how to swaddle the babies with the placenta so it felt more normal. In all truth though, a lotus birth helps mum and baby to spend more time in each other's arms those first days postpartum, since it's more comfortable to stay in bed with baby and let others cater to them.

The placenta was kept wrapped up and covered with a ziplock bag

"Once the cord began drying up, it became very hard. Towards the last days it dried and shortened and began tugging at the baby's belly button. So my husband took a plier and broke it off about two inches. All in all took about three to four days to completely fall off on its own.

"Lotus birth has become a sacred tradition for our growing family. To women curious about doing it, I would say read about it, speak to other women who have done it, and talk to your care provider, and if it's for you, definitely do it! For some it will just feel comfortable to delay cord cutting, or encapsulate the placenta, and that's great too."

Read more: 'Delayed cord clamping and placenta delivery in the UAE: What are your options?'

Jenny now lives in Abu Dhabi and is expecting her third child, and would like to do a lotus birth again.

About Lotus Births

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, usually within 3–10 days after birth.

There’s a growing body of research to show that delaying the cutting of the umbilical cord after birth is beneficial to the baby, as it allows oxygen-rich blood to flow into the infant, which can reduce the risk of anemia, amongst other benefits. The World Health Organisation recommends waiting at least 1-3 minutes after birth before cutting the cord.

While there has been no scientific research specifically on lotus births (where the cord clamping is significantly delayed), advocates believe that it helps mother and child bonding, and often that there is a spiritual significance in keeping the baby attached to the placenta until it naturally detaches.

However, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has warned about the risks of infection that could spread to the newborn when leaving the placenta attached, pointing out that “at the post-delivery stage [the placenta] has no circulation and is essentially dead tissue.” The RCOG strongly recommends that any baby that undergoes lotus birthing be monitored closely for infection. 

Read more from Baby & Child: 

Waterbirth, hypnobirthing and doulas: Your guide to alternative birth options in the UAE

The first hour after birth is crucial to a child’s wellbeing - here’s why

Everything you need to know about having a waterbirth in the UAE

Should you bank your baby's cord blood? We weigh up the pros and cons