I did not know this:
Cord burning, a practice that’s been around in various cultures for many years, is getting new appreciation from some families who say it’s a way to cherish the moment and get loved ones involved in the milestone for baby and mom.
With her family at her side, Geston watched as her daughter, her husband, his parents and her parents took turns holding the candle underneath the umbilical cord until it burned through – a process that took about 20 minutes.
Of course, there has to be an internet site devoted to this ritual of umbilical cord burning. One site — www.cordburning.com (Sacred Severance) — says that the act of separating the umbilical cord by fire gets its origin from ancient China:
The umbilicus is the entry way to all abdominal organs. It is the core. In traditional Chinese medicine it is a belief that the placenta holds the Ch’i (life force) of the baby and by heating the cord it sends that Ch’i to the baby and he is therefore “warmed” by this energy. It is preferable they have this warmth or heat at birth. Cord burning provides this warm energy. It will reduce the risk of bleeding and entry of infections. You are warming digestion which will reduce the tendency for jaundice, besides just creating a strong baby which means a good nurser.
Obstetrician-gynecologist Amy Tuteur is apoplectic:
How moronic is this? Let us count the ways.
1. The umbilical cord contains blood vessels and does not provide entry to the abdominal cavity. Any blood still in it drains to the inferior vena cava and thence to the heart.
2. Heating the blood in the cord by candle flame does not “drive” it anywhere. It simply burns it.
3. Warming the digestion? Last I heard, the abdominal organs work best at 98.6°, standard body temperature.
4. Reduces the risk of jaundice? How could that be when jaundice is caused by an excess of bilirubin, not “cold” abdominal organs?
After doing a bit of my own internet research on the issue of umbilical cord burning, and noting that there have been no ancient or modern scientific investigations regarding it, (and no mention of the practice in any medical literature that I have searched), I have to take Dr. Tuteur’s side on this one. For reasons that should be obvious, this ritual will not be coming to a hospital near you anytime soon.