Leaving the baby with their umbilical cord and placenta still attached, until the cord dries and naturally separates at the umbilicus is called a Lotus Birth.  This can take anywhere from 3-10 days.  This prolonged contact is seen as a time of transition, allowing the baby to slowly and gently let go of their attachment to their mother body.

There are many traditional cultures who hold the placenta in high esteem.  Maori people from New Zealand bury the placenta ritually on ancestral marae, and the Hmong, a hill tribe from South East Asia, some tribal aborigines and some species of monkey.

Lotus birth has been described as a logical extension of natural childbirth, which means we can re-claim the 3rd stage of labour, to honour the placenta, the baby’s first source of nourishment.

Advantages of a Lotus Birth:

  • Gentle transition for the baby
  • A natural ‘letting go’ of the connection to the mother
  • Baby gets the optimal blood volume
  • Possible decreased risk of infection – there is no open wound
  • Spiritual, emotional or cultural reasons
  • Keeps Mum and baby close for the all important first week of life

Closure of all vessels DO NOT occur when the cord visibly stops pulsing.  Umbilical cords can continue to pulse at the umbilicus, for much longer than the centre of the cord – can be as long as 2-3 hrs.  Given that there is still blood flowing to the baby, many believe it is wise to wait until the baby is finished with it.  Once the blood volume has reached an optimal level, for that particular baby, the rest of the cord vessels will close off.

How to do a Lotus Birth:

  • Keep placenta level with the baby or higher (in a bowl or sieve) until the Wharton’s Jelly has completely solidified, and all vessels have closed.
  • The cord can then be cut without the need for clamping
  • If continuing with a Lotus Birth, gently wash the placenta in warm water and leave to air for at least 24 hrs.
  • After 24 hrs. the placenta can be salted with sea salt to speed up the drying out process and wrapped in a nappy or cloth, which should be changed daily
  • Do not put anything on cord or umbilicus
  • To carry placenta and baby, place placenta on baby’s abdomen
  • When baby is lying down, place placenta beside the baby

After Separation:

  • Placenta can be stored in the freezer
  • Many have a ritualistic burying ceremony.  It can be buried in the garden or a large pot.  Because it is highly nutritious, the plant will not need any other fertilizer for many months.
  • Once the placenta is completely dried it can be ground in a mortar and pestle and the powder consumed with food.
  • Can also be cooked or eaten raw

Dear Susan,  I am writing to say thank you for your book.  It changed my outlook on my pregnancy.  Everything that happened at the birth that was good happened because I followed your book.  I did it drug free, with a doula and had a perfect labour, attachment and early breastfeeding experience.  So, thank you – for your wisdom and courage.  I hope every pregnant couple gets to read your book. Katarina