Mothers are choosing to let nature take its course and leave their baby’s placenta attached after birth.
Rather than cutting the umbilical cord, scores of parents in Brighton and Hove are opting for the practice known as lotus birth.
According to midwives, the approach is becoming “relatively widespread” in the city, where the home birth rate is among the highest in the country.
It can take up to 10 days for the placenta to fall away – and mothers must carry around the matter with their infant while they wait for it to drop off.
Former yoga teacher Adele Allen, who had her son Ulysses by unassisted lotus birth at home, said it “just made sense” not to cut the cord.
She said: “The popular belief is that it’s bad for mum and baby – but it really isn’t.
“After the placenta came out, we kept it in a bag next to the bed, still attached to Ulysses. We wrapped it in a cloth and we washed it every day.
“We didn’t rub it with spices or anything though, so by the end it didn’t smell too good. But after five days of lying in bed together it just came away naturally. It was lovely.”
Supporters of Lotus birth claim babies develop an emotional bond to the placenta which should not be severed too early.
They also say leaving the cord intact lessens the chance of infection and improves the newborn’s circulation.
Mrs Allen, 29, said the decision to go for a lotus birth two years ago had been “both spiritual and physical”.
She said: “It created a lot of negativity from family – but to me it just made sense.
“Our whole parental philosophy is about letting Ulysses let go only when he wants to. He still sleeps in our bed, for example. It’s a child-centred approach.
“It also keeps relatives from snatching the baby from you too soon, which I find intrusive.”
Husband Matt, 30, also a yoga teacher, said the couple had treated the placenta “almost like Ulysses’ twin”.
He said: “If you have a boy you are supposed to bury the placenta to the right side of the house to represent masculinity. If it’s a girl it should go to the left side of the house.
“Sadly we were living in a block of flats at the time so we just threw it off the end of the pier.”
Brighton and Hove has one of the highest home birth rates in the country, with up to 10% of babies being born at home.
Sally Cropper, a Brighton-based doula who helps mothers during child- birth, said Lotus births were becoming “relatively widespread” in the city.
She said: “I come across it a lot. There are lots of spiritually minded people in Brighton and there’s a lot of diversity in the way people approach things.
"The NHS here is generally more relaxed towards it than in other parts of the country.
“More people are choosing to do things in a natural way, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.”
A spokesperson for Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust said: “We would always support the mother's choice around her birth and we would have no objection to the woman choosing a lotus birth, provided there is no risk to her or the baby.”