Birth ritual: umbilical cord burning

Cord burning newborn

A gentle, post-birth cord detaching ritual is gaining popularity, and it involves nothing more than a candle.

The first few seconds after most births are filled with sweet, newborn cries and dad tearfully cutting the umbilical cord. But there is an alternative to the traditional cutting of the cord that many parents have never heard of.

Cord burning a slow way to ceremonially detach the cord between mum and bub – and the whole family can take part

What is cord burning?

Doula care service Yema Mamas has shared a stirring video of a family taking part in a cord burning ritual with their newborn. While cord burning has its origins in traditional Chinese medicine, it’s still not widely practised.

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It involves placing the still attached umbilical cord over a special box or bowl. A candle then slowly burns through the cord, with the wax getting caught in the box beneath. While the burning of the cord causes no harm to mum or bub, it’s thought to have some benefits.

It’s believed the cauterising of the cord reduced the risk of bleeding and infections and apparently helps the stump fall off quicker. Advocates also say it’s the most gentle way to separate the baby from the placenta. It’s also said to push the last of the blood through the cord, which is thought to benefit bub.

If cord burning or cutting aren’t for you, you can let the cord detach naturally or cord clamping can be delayed.