Don't Retract Pack

Lotus Birth

Article posted with permission from A Childbirth

Above: Lotus Birth from Komal's home waterbirth. Read her birth story here.

Lotus birth is a practice of non-violence. It is gaining more and more momentum nowadays, as parents realize the importance of birth for the psychological development and health of children.

During my first birth, I have read about Lotus Birth and wished it for my newborn daughter. We have bought a special sieve, where we put the placenta. We kept the placenta in the sieve a little higher than Gabbie, while she had her first breastfeeding. The blood from the placenta quickly went down into the baby, providing her with the most precious nutrition. Having had an unassisted home birth, we did not rush to cut the umbilical cord. We waited for it to drain itself. Little by little the red throbbing stalk connecting Gabbie and the placenta became white. Gabbie was very calm and relaxed. She is still very self-confident and attentive. (Still my first birth was not such, which I hope the second one to be. When a doctor came, she cut the umbilical cord. I am thankful that at least we had the wisdom to postpone her coming at least an hour after the complete birth. Yet it was probably not wise to transfer to hospital after such a wonderful birth at home.)

Not only the umbilical cord is not cut, it just withers away usually in the third day. The infant has the time to accustom to the world, without the sudden breaking from this caring warm friend, it had in the womb for nine months.

The placenta is part of the baby. The placenta begins developing at implantation from the same source as the baby - the blastocyst. The fetus relies on the placenta, not only for nutrition, but also for gas exchange, waste removal, endocrine and immune support. The correct development of the placenta is important for the development of the embryo and fetus.

When born, the baby still relies on the placenta. Leaving it attached to the baby after birth, you make a natural transition to take place. There is no rush, no sudden severance, and no confusion. The baby has the feel for the placenta, and at the same time discovers in its own time the new source of love, warmth, nutrition in the mother. The gradual attachment to the mother helps the detachment from the placenta as it dries and naturally separates. The most precious nutrition, hormones, immune support substances enter the baby body. Leaving the placenta intact, you also keep the baby body from infection which might appear in early cord cut.

Parents report their lotus born babies are more mature, calm and happy than their non-lotus born babies. They seem more content and faster maturing. [Note: This could have to do with all the other aspects of baby-friendly care that typically go along with lotus birth - not cutting a newborn's genitals post birth, feeding on cue, keeping baby close to his mother's chest, sleep sharing, etc.]

I myself embraced the notion of lotus birth for my current birth. It seemed the most natural way to bring my baby into this world. Some suggest it was first used in the Western world in 1974 by Clair Lotus Day. She witnessed the way a mother Chimpanzee left the placenta attached to the baby until it dropped off. Seeing this, she thought it should not be harmful for a human baby and did the same after the birth of her son. Leaving the cord attached was a practice also cherished by the Native Americans, the Thais. It was mentioned in Buddhist traditions as well. It is likely that humans have actually used lotus birth for much of human history, although it is just now becoming popular again in North America.

Lotus birth is revived today as a practice of gentle parents, and many others who sense the benefit for their newborn baby. It has been practiced even in hospital settings, after Cesarean, or for premature babies.

Sleeping baby during lotus birth
(cord attached, placenta wrapped above head)

Lotus birth after cesarean section

For more on Lotus Birth see:

A Childbirth

Birth Well (AU)

Lotus Fertility

View: Birth As We Know It

Women of Spirit (Lotus Birth book, DVD)

Lotus Birth: A Ritual for Our Times by Dr. Sarah J. Buckley


  1. Sounds amazing but I would think it would be VERY hard to get a doctor to agree with this practice, especially in today's society.

  2. ^^^Then dont use a doctor lol

    When I have my next, this is what I planned on doing :] And then keeping the placenta. When the baby turns 5-6yrs old, we will take it out of the freezer and bury it with a new tree

  3. Well, a doctor has actually written a book on the subject (Lotus Birth by Sarah Buckley MD). And, a nursing medical textbook published in 2008 for postnatal and neonatal protocols (Leap & Macdonald, El Sevier Press) has expansive information about benefits of neonatal integrity, very delayed cord severance, and the possibilities of nonseverance.

    It's not about getting care providers to agree with us, it's about finding (and paying) those who can provide proper support for informed choices and offer open-minded, leading-edge healthcare, isn't it? If a care provider (physician, lm, cnm, tba) is an evolving professional, they should be able to have a decent conversation about non-intervention upon the healthy newborn.

  4. While recently researching umbilical hernias and navel issues (search 'navel infection in adults'), it occured to me that it could be related to early detachment of the placenta. Curious...

  5. We delayed the cord cutting, though not to this extent because I'd never heard of this until now. But my daughter ended up with bad jaundice and had to have light therapy her first week home, and the pediatrician at the hospital blamed it on the delayed cord cutting. Anyone know if that holds any truth or not?

    I like that this seems like a more natural way to do it, though I'm not sure I would. It's interesting though.

    1. My youngest got jaundice even after the umbilical cord was cut at birth. I wasn't aware of lotus birth.

    2. My sister, brother, and I all had jaundice and had to spend at least a week under lights. We were all umbilical cut immediately at birth. The pediatrician is trying to blame something that he/she doesn't understand on something - jaundice - that happens with a lot of babies anyway.

      Thank you for writing about this. I'm incredibly interested in doing a Lotus birth if I decide to have biological children.

  6. I believe babies can get jaundice from the mother not taking in enough fluids, my 1st born had jaundice, (24 yrs ago) and back then, I was far from being on a healthy diet, my boys are 24, 21 and 13.... ( I've never heard of all this, sounds interesting), too bad I'm done having children.

  7. Delay cutting is not what caused jaundice. Bilirubin is the substance produced when old red blood cells are being replaced.Excessive Bilirubin causes the yellow discoloration. Your newborn may have needed more time attached to the placenta, maybe your delay, was not delayed enough. The hospital always blame the patient and never the hospitals'/doctors' impatience.

  8. Agreed, Ashley, you don't need a doctor to birth...just a vagina.

    As for keeping the baby's placenta...with a Lotus Birth the placenta dehydrates and as such is preserved and there is no need to freeze the placenta/cord one they detach. We kept our daughter's "centa" as she called it in a lovely box on the bookshelf - by the time she was Lotus Born it was very dry and had shrunk to the size of my palm and it continued to dry and shrink further in the box. When she weaned at age 5 years she decided to have a celebration and during the party she buried her placenta in a pot and planted a mango tree over it with her special friends looking one.

  9. This is interesting! I have never heard of Lotus Birthing, and I think that my next one I might just have to give this a go! Hopefully my ob will be good enough for us to experience! Thanks for this post and everyones comments!

  10. I'm 26 weeks pregnant at the moment. It is highly unlikely that I will be able to carry my daughter to 30 weeks or even 28 weeks. I've tried to discuss delayed cord clamping and lotus birth for premature babies with my doctors but they seem very unwilling to even discuss this option. Does anyone know if lotus birth (or even delayed cord clamping) is possible if my baby is born before 30 weeks??

    1. yes! literally, all it requires is for the doctor to put his hands down after she hands you your baby. and do nothing.

    2. Sources to support this my last was born at 29 weeks not breathing and I want my next to have this even it it's early I'm 5 weeks now

    3. Medical personal may not wish to 'hassle' with an attached cord/placenta - but it surely does no harm to a baby born prematurely, and may have the benefits of ensuring that last blood reaches baby vs. being clamped away too early.

  11. i always wondered how Adam and Eve handled clamping the umbilical cord. it never even occurred to me to just leave it all alone. i feel so sad for the general lack of vital education these days...

  12. I have started looking at options involving the babies cord and placenta since my last baby was born and her placenta was ripped from my body causing mass hemorrhaging. The thought struck me If it is best for my body to naturally expel the placenta, and it is even more so attatched to my child, why are we cutting it? and then i wanted to know, What did Adam and Eve do? How did God intend for us to handle these things? I am very interested in doing this with my next child and see if it accounts for a more relaxed baby...