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Lotus Birth

shivam-lotus-birth-175wThe Beginning

The practice of Lotus Birth here in the west is relatively new. In 1974, Claire Lotus Day began studying the work of the primatologist Jane Goodall, who spent years observing chimpanzees in the wild where she noted that they did not chew or cut their offspring's cords, instead leaving them intact. The chimps rested and moved in the trees until the placenta naturally detached. This got Claire to thinking, and she realized these were social, peace-loving animals and connected the two together.

What is Lotus Birth?

Lotus Birth is the practice of leaving the umbilical cord uncut, so that the baby remains attached to the placenta until the cord naturally separates at the navel. This practice is also known as non-severance. Considered by Lotus advocates as 'the fourth stage of childbirth', the time after the placenta has delivered allowing this miraculous organ to complete its job aiding a smooth transition from womb to world.


What is Happening with the Umbilical Cord the First Few Minutes after Birth?

Immediately postpartum, the umbilical cord pulsates as it transfers blood to the placenta from the baby, and vice versa. Changes in the cord's Wharton's jelly then produce a natural internal clamping within 10–20 minutes postpartum.

What are the Benefits to the Mother and Child?

Interestingly, extended-delayed cord clamping and severing (just waiting more than an hour after the baby's birth),  results in quicker cord stump healing, with an average of 3 - 10 days for detachment of the stump. This can protect the infant from an open wound infection and make a big difference for diaper changing!

"Lotus birth ensures all the benefits of delayed cord clamping (DCC) for the newborn baby. DCC allows the transfer of an extra 100 ml of blood from placenta to baby: around 1/3 of total newborn blood volume. Babies who receive this blood (including lotus babies) are less likely to be anaemic in the first year of life compared to babies whose cord is cut immediately: standard practice in most hospitals. DCC also gives extra blood for heart and brain, which may be critical for some babies.

Lotus birth ensures close mother-baby contact in the hours after birth, and discourages others (including medical staff) from unnecessarily removing the baby. Early skin-to-skin contact gives the newborn healthy glucose levels, less crying, more organized behavior, more quiet sleep and better temperature regulation. Lotus birth encourages the mother to be still and quiet for the few days after birth - you certainly can't take a lotus baby shopping! Rest at this time, as practiced in most traditional cultures, gives the new mother time to recover, to establish breastfeeding and get to know her baby."

What is the Positive Impact on the Family?

Lotus Birth slows things down. This is most desirable. The time after a birth is to be savoured.  It is like the time after making love, after the climax, a time of intimacy and integration. A mother who has just birthed her baby, after nine months of pregnancy, benefits greatly from quiet and rest. The birth experience requires integration. Time to reflect on things and to be able to talk about it all with supportive people is most beneficial. The father and other children who may have been present also appreciate and benefit from this 'between times'.

Lotus Birth provides a unique opportunity after the birth for the family to settle in, to be together in a very special way. With the placenta still attached, the sense of being in the space 'between worlds' is very apparent. The baby is here but is still there. The time of transition from the beyond into the physical plane of existence is obvious.

Why a Mother Might Choose a Lotus Birth

  • Gentle transition for baby
  • Aversion to cutting the cord
  • Respect for the baby and placenta
  • Encourages mother and family to slow down
  • Minimizes passing the baby around to visitors
  • Possible decreased risk of infection
  • Emotional or spiritual reasons

The Protocol - How to Have a Lotus Birth

There is a protocol to follow when having a Lotus Birth, we have listed only the first few steps here to give the mother an idea of how easy it is to do.

  • When the baby is born, leave the umbilical cord intact
  • Wait for the natural delivery of the placenta
  • When the placenta delivers, place it into a receiving bowl beside the mother
  • Wait for full transfusion of the umbilical blood into the baby before handling the placenta
  • Within a few hours after birth, gently wash the placenta with water

I've heard of the 'Lotus Birth Campaign', what is It?

It is a worldwide campaign to end the practice of routine immediate umbilical cord clamping. Their mission is to raise awareness of the value of the placenta to both mother and child beyond the third stage of childbirth. The campaign also does not support the use of umbilical cord blood for Stem Cell Research.

Where can I find more information on Lotus Birth?

For additional reading we suggest Lotus Birth, compiled by Shivam Rachana (2000) Greenwood Press. If you are interested in learning about gentle parenting practices you may enjoy Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor's Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices by Dr. Sarah Buckley (2 Dec 2008) Celstial Arts