Mum ceremoniously burns her baby's umbilical cord shortly after giving birth

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In a powerful moment, a mum burns her umbilical cord after giving birth with the help of her 5-year-old son.

It’s an ancient practice that has been around for centuries, but umbilical cord burning is enjoying a resurgence. More and more mums are embracing this age-old technique even in this age of advanced technology. 29-year-old Lacey Barratt is one of these mums. In photos shared on Instagram, the mum burns her umbilical cord after a water birth.

For her home birth, she chose a ceremony that consisted of practices that signify the four elements: water, earth, air, and fire.

The space she birthed her baby in represented Earth, while her birth pool and shower served as the Water elements. Air was the first breath her son took. 

Finally, Fire was the candle she used to cut her baby’s umbilical cord, shortly after she gave birth.

Mum burns her umbilical cord with the help of her 5-year-old son

Using a regular candle, Barratt made the ceremony more special by letting her five-year-old son help in burning the umbilical cord that linked his little sibling to their mum’s placenta.

“Seeing this image makes my heart do flips in my chest,” marveled Barratt on Instagram. “The beautiful chaos that my oldest and youngest son sits in… as we disconnect from pregnancy and enter postpartum. Well, it just makes me swoon.”

mum burns her umbilical cord

Image source: Lacey Barratt Instagram page

When a mum burns her umbilical cord, what are the benefits?

Cord burning is an ancient practice that’s more than a meaningful ceremony to mark a baby’s separation from her mum’s body. It is done to lower the risk of infection or heavy bleeding postpartum. The heat cauterises the cord, sterilising it, and stops the bleeding.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that the placenta holds Chi, or energy. As a baby leaves the womb, this heat or energy is lost. So after birth, cord burning draws this “vital essence” back to the baby.

“There is no reason to prevent [parents] from getting it done provided it can be done safely,” Dr. Iffath Hoskins from the NYU Langone Medical Center tells Today.

The World Health Organisation advises that cord cutting should be done within one to three minutes after birth. This delay helps stimulate more blood flow and nutrients to the baby from the placenta. But common practice involves cutting the cord within the minute after birth.

The umbilical cord can be burned up to an hour after birth

Cord burning can be done from 10 minutes up to one hour after birth, which may seem strange and frightening. As long as the cord is pulsating, it means that there is still blood flow between the baby and placenta. So some believe that once this stops, it is the best time to use candles to sever the cord.

Using a candle to burn through an umbilical cord takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

As the cord burns, wax can be allowed to drip in a bowl or burn box. The cord twists gently throughout the process.

mum burns her umbilical cord

Image source: Lacey Barratt Instagram page

When done in the hospital, cutting the umbilical cord is done by clamping the cord and milking it towards the newborn. Then another clamp is placed about 1 and 1/2 inches from the baby’s belly. A scalpel or surgical scissors severs the part between the two clamps before delivering the placenta.

Throughout the nine months a baby grows in her mum’s womb, the umbilical cord serves vital functions. It transports oxygen and nutrients and eliminates waste from the fetus.

So it’s natural that many mums want a more meaningful way of parting with it. After all, it has served as a wondrous lifeline that helped prepare their little one for life outside the warmth of their mum’s womb.

Make sure to seek the approval of your doctor or gynaecologist before choosing to do this practice after birth.

Do you think it is safe when a mum burns her umbilical cord? Let us know in the comments below.

Sources: TODAY, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Hospital Services UK, World Health Organisation (WHO)

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