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Natural childbirth: Benefits of lotus birth vs. delayed cord clamping

Benefits of lotus birth vs. delayed cord clampingThere’s a new trend amongst natural home birthers getting attention by the media…the lotus birth. When I first heard the term, images from Ina May’s book Spiritual Midwifery  came to mind of women having natural, orgasmic births imagining a lotus flower opening to help them open for birth.   The term actually refers to an extreme version of delayed cord clamping and not a natural childbirth practice as implied.

Inhabitots explains:

Otherwise known as umbilical nonseverance, Lotus Birth is the practice of leaving the umbilical cord and placenta attached to your baby after he is born. It’s well documented that waiting to cut your baby’s umbilical cord is a healthy practice, but Lotus Birth keeps it attached to a newborn, along with the placenta, until it falls off naturally (which takes much longer than the recommended 90 second cord clamping delay recommended by Dr. Alan Greene).

Delayed cord clamping differs from lotus birth in that the cord is clamped and severed after it has stopped pumping, which is typically about 15 minutes.   The lotus birth allows for the placenta and umbilical cord to fall of naturally, which can take several days, at least that is how long I recall it took for my children’s cord stump to fall off.

Benefits of lotus birth

Why would parents choose to leave the placenta and cord attached to their infant?  I can’t help but remember how awkward it was to breastfeed my son when he had drains in his chest from open heart surgery.  I think I would have similar anxiety about pulling on the umbilical cord when moving or breastfeeding my child of lotus birth.

Lotus Fertility explains the benefit of lotus birth:

In Lotus Birth, the fact that the baby’s previous months contained the constant pulsing companionship of the
cord in the womb, and the protective, pulsing placenta pillow, is highly valued, along with the significantly
reduced risk of infection at the tender navel site.  (Infected cord stumps are sadly an unnecessary but very
real danger for infants in unhygienic conditions).

When the placenta is born, it is kept at the same level as the baby to allow for full transfusion of nutrient rich
blood & hormones and full expansion and function of the baby’s new breathing apparatus, optimized on a
deep internal level when there is no additional stress on their system.  There is no rush to do anything with
the placenta – it is often just wrapped in a soft cloth near the mother during the precious first hours of bonding
(the ‘Primal-adaptive” period as named by Michel Odent M.D.) after the completed birth…

It ensures that an average of 100mL of precious red blood cells will transfer gently to the baby at its most
critical time of need, to contribute towards the amazing exponential brain development of the first year,  and
not be disposed of or harvested due to adult well-intentioned mistrust of the infant’s physiological integrity.
Emotional health of the newborn and family is facilitated by focusing on the phenomenal baby as a whole, with
no attention diverted away through adult traditions of separation.

Benefits delayed cord clamping

 With both of my children, we practiced delayed cord clamping.

Medscape reports:

Allowing placental blood to flow into the neonate for 3 minutes, rather than cutting the umbilical cord within the first 10 seconds, as is common, increases blood volume sufficiently to elevate ferritin at 4 months, finds a study published online November 16 in the British Medical Journal…

Ola Andersson, MD, a neonatologist at the Hospital of Halland in Sweden, and colleagues enrolled 400 full-term infants born after low-risk pregnancies between April 2008 and September 2009, and randomized the time of cord cutting to either 10 seconds or 3 minutes. When a birth was imminent, the midwife would open an envelope assigning either cord-cut time. Midwives held the neonates 20 cm below the level of the mothers’ vulvas for 30 seconds and then placed the infants on the mothers’ abdomens to facilitate blood transfer….

Every 20 babies having delayed clamping could prevent 1 case of iron deficiency, the researchers estimate. They conclude that delayed clamping “should be considered as standard care for full term deliveries after uncomplicated pregnancies.”

Delayed cord clamping should be longer than three minutes, as described in the above quote.   Allowing the cord to completely stop pulsing is optimal.

Whether you choose a lotus birth or delayed cord clamping, your baby will benefit.  There is no rush to cut the umbilical cord under normal conditions.   Apparently, the results are long lasting.   The New York Times reports on the same Swedish study cited above:

In blood tests at two days after birth, there were no significant differences in iron status. But when researchers analyzed blood taken at four months, they found iron concentrations were 45 percent higher in the delayed clamping group, and iron deficiency was significantly more prevalent in those who were clamped early.

A lotus birth may seem a bit too extreme for most parents, but delayed cord clamping is a simple practice everyone can embrace.

Image:   Yoga on Bigstock


  1. Lotus Birth provides the best possible beginning for a baby. The cranial rhythmic impulse has been identified present in the placenta until the cord comes away naturally at the navel. If the cord is awkward when it has dried it can simply be wet with water and reshaped. Lotus birth is easy and simple. A cut cord requires much more ‘care’ and attention for much longer than an in tact cord. The newly released 2nd edition of Lotus Birth which is a most comprehensive account of this practice is available at http://www.lotusbirth.net

  2. Deborah says:

    I’ve been reading about this and find it interesting. I had 2 homebirths and delayed clamping but only long enough until we had to cut to harvest stem cells. None of the articles I’ve read address stem cell harvesting, which is becoming more common practice with the advances in treatments for various diseases with umbilical stem cells.

    • Jennifer Lance says:

      I don’t know how delayed cord clamping and lotus birth affects the harvest of stem cells.

  3. Mary Ceallaigh says:

    Ladies, delayed cord clamping allows for full stem transfer at the time in a baby’s life when it needs those stem cells the most! 80-120mL of precious, rich placenta nourishment that help with phenomenal all-systems changes of the neonatal transition period and maximize immune system.

    In warm water births where the placenta and cord stay warm and thus pulse longer (people have reported up to 20 minutes of natural pulsing occurring – there’s the time while the placenta is being born as well as the extra minutes it pulses in the warmth.)

    In Robin Lim CPM’s birth centers in Bali, serving often at-risk women, in premature birth scenarios they utilize a traditional midwifery technique of immersing much of the cord and placenta in warm water and massaging the placenta so as extract more of the nourishing stem cell blood for the baby.

    Midwife Robin Lim was awarded CNN’s 2011 Hero of the Year award due to her fantastic work with women which has resulted in stellar statistics for a population that otherwise often has various complications and postpartum health issues.

    The W.H.O. supports one hour of undisturbed/uninterrupted bonding for mother & child (preferably skin to skin) as CRITICAL for establishment of breastfeeding. Cord clamping and cutting is medically UNNECESSARY in the vast majority of cases. In the very least, women deserve the human right of undisturbed bonding with their child – which is good for the whole planet, and has tremendous exponential public health impact.

    Lotus birth, with all its mindfulness practice, is not for everyone – despite the fact that the placenta & cord are the baby’s – and that they are formed from the same egg & sperm that made the baby. Lots of people have an aversion to the placenta, an ignorance as to its profound design and no reverence for what, in tribal cultures was called the “little mother” or “first grandmother” of the child…. Most modern adults have a lot of our own trauma related to how our own placentas were severed and tossed as trash upon our arrival to this world – and the message it gave us that parts of our cells were unworthy.

    So… no need to do lotus birth just because someone else does, or because it’s the new trend, if you are not naturally drawn to it.

    But there is every reason in the world to experience undisturbed bonding for at least one hour after birth with an unclamped and uncut cord. Plus, when the cord is cut after it has undergone it’s innate clamping via the Wharton’s Jelly process, the cord stump is nicely blocked and less prone to infection – the stump also dries faster, usually within 5 days compared to 2-3 weeks of the typical quick-clamped (3 minutes is still really quick) cord.

  4. Mary Ceallaigh says:

    Oops, typo, should read:

    In warm water births the placenta and cord stay warm and thus pulse longer (people have reported up to 20 minutes of natural pulsing occurring – there’s the time while the placenta is being born as well as the extra minutes it pulses in the warmth), which is a great way for the baby to receive a natural stem cell transfer.

    In Robin Lim CPM’s birth centers in Bali, serving often at-risk women with the routine protocol of Lotus Birth or Umbilical Nonserverance, in premature birth scenarios they utilize a traditional midwifery technique of immersing much of the cord and placenta in warm water and massaging the placenta so as to extract more of the nourishing stem cell blood for the baby through the attached cord

  5. International doctors’ organizations condemn the AAP’s stance on circumcision

    38 doctors representing various international medical associations have condemned the American Academy of Pediatrics 2012 stance on infant male circumcision. When was the last time you have heard of so many doctors and their organizations condemning another doctors’ organization?

    I am including a reference to the American Academy of Pediatrics own journal which presents the international condemnation of the AAP:

    Cultural Bias in the AAP’s 2012 Technical Report and Policy Statement on Male Circumcision

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