Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lotus Birth in the Movies

The new movie Wanderlust with Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd (among others) features a lotus birth!

Actress Lauren Ambrose, upper right, has a lotus birth in the film. 

Of course it was in the context of an outrageously stereotypical hippie commune where a woman delivers her own child, Paul Rudd passes out, and the next day she is seen carrying her baby attached by the umbilical cord to a placenta that her partner holds in a bowl.

What was interesting for me, though, was that this was shown in a mainstream movie. Does that mean that lotus birth has become popular enough to be on movie writers radar? Or perhaps just one writer needs to know about it for it to get put into the movie.

Of course American society is not quite ready for some aspects of the natural birth/crunchy mom community, such as carrying around an organ in a bowl, and the whole theatre went "EWWWW!!" And reviews of the movie include quotes like this one from NPR's review of the movie: "the community's decision to leave a newborn's umbilical cord and placenta attached until they fall off naturally is a gag-inducing gag that goes too far." 

Baby steps, lotus birth enthusiasts! :)

What is your reaction to Lotus Birth? Or, if you have seen Wanderlust, what was your reaction to it in the film? 

If you're not sure what I'm talking about, below is more information on Lotus Birth --
(from my own blog post of almost 2 years ago)

As mentioned before, there are benefits to delayed clamping and severance of the umbilical cord for the baby. There have been few recent arguments that delayed clamping is dangerous. Here is another, more "extreme" practice related to the umbilical cord.

A Lotus Birth is one during which the umbilical is not cut.


The placenta and baby are left attached until the umbilical cord naturally detaches. 

Herbs, essential oils and salts are applied to assist in the drying process and keeps odor at bay. The umbilical cord usually comes off on its own 3 - 10 days postpartum. The placenta is kept in a little pouch and goes around with the newborn. 

It is considered a gentler, non-violent form of birth. 

I have found several articles online that claim that,

"Lotus birthed babes appear more calm and healthy than their counterparts whose cords are immediately cut. They receive quite a bit of extra blood, rich in nutrients and oxygen, that boosts their immune system. The placenta helps their liver by filtering toxins from the baby's blood as long as the pumping continues. Their navals heal faster, and they can have their first bath sooner. The experience is gentler on the child and very special for all involved."

Lotus Birth, aka Umbilical Nonseverance, is generally practiced only at home or birth center births. This seems pretty clear, I'd say, since hospital attendants generally clamp the cord immediately. 

Wikipedia has this to say about the historical development of Lotus Birth:

In Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, the term "lotus birth" is used to describe spiritual teachers such as Gautama Buddha andPadmasambhava (Lien-hua Sen), emphasizing their entrance into the world as intact, holy children. References to lotus births are also found in Hinduism, for example in the story of the birth of Vishnu. 
Although recently arisen as an alternative birth phenomenon in the West, delayed umbilical severance and umbilical nonseverance have been recorded in a number of cultures including that of the Balinese and of some aboriginal peoples such as the African !Kung.
Early American pioneers, in written diaries and letters, reported practicing nonseverance of the umbilicus as a preventative measure to protect the infant from an open wound infection.
Sarah J Buckley, a popular proponent for Lotus Birth, writes about her experiences with Lotus Birth. She says that Lotus Birth was named in 1974 when
Clair Lotus Day, pregnant and living in California, began to question the routine cutting of the cord. Her searching led her to an obstetrician who was sympathetic to her wishes and her son Trimurti was born in hospital and taken home with his cord uncut. Lotus birth was named by, and seeded through, Clair to Jeannine Parvati Baker in the US and Shivam Rachana in Australia, who have both been strong advocates for this gentle practice.
The practice then gained notoriety in the yoga community when Jeannine Parvati Baker wrote a book called Prenatal Yoga and Natural Childbirth. She saw it as the practical application of the yogic value of ahimsa.

Lotus Birth has also been observed in non-humans. 

Primatologist Jane Goodall, who was the first person to conduct any long-term studies of chimpanzees in the wild, reported that they did not chew or cut their offspring’s cords, instead leaving the umbilicus intact. Because humans share 99% genetic material with chimpanzees, some lotus birth practitioners refer to chimpanzee practice as a natural practice for humans as well. (Since many cases of chimpanzee cord separation have also been documented, further studies are required.)



  1. I consider myself "crunchy" but this is definitely not a practice I would try. It's not that I think it's gross, it's just that I have too much to think about in the days following birth that I don't want to have to carry around my stupid placenta in a bowl. Birth and postpartum are already messy and exhausting (sure, there are joyful moments, but I found more of those as my child grew bigger). Plus, I don't believe there are any benefits to leaving the cord intact, especially after it has stopped pulsing.

  2. I have had 4 lotus births including twins. It was simple and easy. The babies rested in bed with me postpartum and friends and family came to us rather than me carrying my newborn or passing him around. The days were still and simple. See my DVD "Lotus Birth, the waterbirth of the Malcolm Twins". Available in English and soon in Italian.
    Great to see a lotus birth in a mainstream movie.


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