14/08/2014 16:54 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Growing Trend For New Mums To Leave Placenta Attached To Baby For 10 Days

Crying newborn baby

Cutting the cord is one of the most memorable milestone moments about becoming a new parent. I cut the umbilical cords for my two sons and it was both a huge privilege and felt like a massive responsibility.

But there is a growing trend for mums and dads to let nature take its course and leave their baby's placenta attached after birth.

It's a practice known as Lotus birth - and it causes raised emotions amongst both those who say it is the most natural thing in the world and those who say it can be dangerous and even put the newborn baby's life at risk.

Rather than cutting the umbilical cord, parents wait for 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 in Brighton, 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.

Independent midwife Deborah Rhodes, 36, said that since 2004, out of the 50 births at which she has been the midwife present, 20 have been lotus-style.

Deborah herself opted to leave the cord attached when her son, Max, was born at home in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, three years ago.

She said: "The health benefits to babies of delayed clamping - waiting up to 25 minutes until the cord stops pulsing before cutting it - are now widely recognised in hospitals.

"The advantages of leaving the cord and placenta attached beyond that point are more spiritual.

"The placenta belongs to the baby and they often spend a lot of time touching the cord in the womb, so it's a very familiar, comforting thing for them when everything else is so new. With lotus birthing you are letting the baby decide when it's ready to break that bond."

Max is now a happy, active toddler, a fact Deborah believes is partly due to his relaxed entry into the world.

"I do think birth experience plays a part in how contented a baby is," she said.

"With a relaxed birth and a gentle beginning a mother's hormones settle down and the milk flows in quicker.

"So my policy as an independent midwife is very much to help women make informed choices about their birth experience and while lotus birthing is still a minority thing, word seems to be getting around."

However, obstetricians