Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Lotus Birth

Posted on: December 4, 2008

I have just returned from an Association of Radical Midwives (ARM) meeting.  It was great to meet up with other midwives who feel passionate about normal birth.  Tonight we viewed a film about the “Lotus Birth” of twins, in a birthpool, at home in Australia; the film is available from


A Lotus Birth is when the umbilical cord is not cut after the birth of the baby, instead the baby remains attached to the cord and placenta until the cord naturally detaches at the baby’s umbilicus.


The placenta is usually salted and treated with herbs to preserve the placenta until it separates.  The cord dries quickly and shrinks in diameter and detaches within a few days after the birth.


There may be many reasons why families choose this unusual method of managing the ultimate separation of the baby from the placenta; they may have personal or spiritual beliefs about the significance of the placenta, but also it is true that the baby extra blood, via placental transfusion, which contains iron, red cells, stem cells and other nutrients if the cord is either left intact or left until the pulsating ceases.  Additionally advocates of Lotus birth are aware that the mother and baby are more likely to be left to “bond” and establish breastfeeding with the placenta remaining attached to the baby.


This raises other questions: that of when to cut the umbilical cord, and also the question of stem cell harvesting.  In the vast majority of births within the UK the mother is given an injection of an Oxytocic to speed up the delivery of the placenta as it is believed that this lessens the risk of post-partum haemorrhage (NICE, Intrapartum Care September 2007). This national guidance is questioned by some midwives and also Association for Improvements in Maternity Services (AIMS) (Delivering Your Placenta, The Third Stage 1999)


Routine stem cell collection is not recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists or the Royal College of Midwives however it is a question midwives are often asked about.  In a routine hospital environment the cord is quickly clamped and cut after birth, however in a physiologically managed third stage the baby receives the extra blood supply and also the stem cells.


On a separate and sad note, I acknowledge the death of Hope Williams one of the conjoined twins.


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