C-sections occur in more than 1/3rd of births in the US now. It is more than just a trend, and seems to only be rising.
Research shows us that babies born by cesarean have increased chances of obesity, asthma, celiac disease, autism, chronic illnesses, and type 1 diabetes later in their lives. This research suggests that it is the differences in the gut flora that plays a part in the rise in these diseases.
Allowing the body to labor on its own, without intervention, provides many benefits for posi both mom and baby, but allowing baby to pass through the birth canal takes the cake, folks. Apparently, our bodies are so amazing that we not only grow humans, but our own gut flora is passed to those humans as they grow (through the placenta).
It gets even better! Our gut flora travels from our gut into the birth canal during labor. These bacteria then are absorbed through baby’s skin, eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals as he passes through the birth canal and is welcomed to the world.
By having these bacteria absorbed into their bodies, babies have a decreased risk of the above mentioned illnesses, as well as many more.
I know that 1 (or 2) out of every 3 of pregnant women reading this will end up electing or requiring a c-section for birth, but YOU are who I am writing this for. Science has found a way for you to grace your baby with your ‘seed.’
If you are HIV negative, and having a C-Section, I highly recommend you read on. If you are GBS positive, talk to your doctor about vaginal seeding.
What is Seeding?
Dr. Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, an associate professor in the Human Microbiome Program at the NYU School of Medicine, presented the process to do what is called an inoculum or “seeding” for the infant.
- Take a piece of gauze soaked in sterile normal saline
- Fold it up like a tampon with lots of surface area and insert into the mother’s vagina
- Leave for 1 hour, remove just prior to surgery and keep in a sterile container
- Immediately after birth apply the swab to the baby’s mouth, face, then the rest of the body
Yes, it is recommended to take vaginal swabs from the mother and putting them over the body and in the mouth of the baby to help restore the delicate balance for babies who were born by cesarean. This new research was recently shared at a conference of the American Society for Microbiology by a group of other physicians. It is now being practiced across the country by doctors who are up to date on their research.
Vaginal Birth vs. C-Section Birth
“Vaginal birth triggers the expression of mitochondrial uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2) in mice, which is important for improving brain development and function in adulthood. The expression of this protein was impaired in mice born via caesarean section. The communication between our guts and brains appears to rely, in part, on the vagus nerve, and is bidirectional in nature as reported in this 12-year prospective study that looked at relationships between gut problems like irritable bowel disease, anxiety, and depression.”
There is a large difference between the microbiome of a baby born vaginally compared to a baby born by c-section. During a vaginal birth the baby is seeded by the mother’s vaginal and faecal bacteria, as well as bacteria from her gut. A baby born by c-section is seeded by the bacteria in the hospital environment and his mother’s skin. These bacteria are incredibly different, and these differences may be the reason for the long-term increased risk of some diseases for babies born by c-section.
With interventions like Pitocin, antibiotics, C-section and formula feeding, the gut flora transfer from the mother to baby is interfered with or missed completely, leaving the baby’s microbiome “incomplete”. This means that the baby’s immune system may never develop to its full potential.
Most Beneficial Bacteria
The most beneficial gut flora are found in babies who are born at full term (39 weeks or further), vaginally (unmedicated) at home, and are breastfed exclusively. This is because these babies come in contact with ONLY the bacteria of their family during the prime ‘seeding’ the period.
The following are ways you can increase the chances of positively seeding your baby:
- Have a vaginal birth at home.
- Avoid vaginal contact: cervical checks, etc.
- Avoid unnecessary antibiotics during labor. If antibiotics are required, consider probiotics for mother and baby following birth.
- If the baby is born by c-section, follow the procedure of vaginal swabs to ‘seed’ the babies. The preliminary results are that the microbiome of swabbed babies are more similar to vaginally born babies.
How to Help After Birth
After birth, the baby continues to receive gut flora through contact with the environment and breastfeeding. The differences in the gut of breastfed babies compared to formula fed babies is immense. The beneficial bacteria are transported to the baby’s gut by breastmilk. The gut health of a formula fed baby plays into the health risks and chronic illnesses linked to formula. http://www.cmaj.ca/content/185/5/385 and http://www.livescience.com/26312-gut-bacteria-infant-colic.html
Ways to help increase positive gut flora:
- Skin-to-Skin: Immediately following birth, and in the first days, baby should spend a lot of time naked on his/her mother’s chest skin-to-skin.
- Avoid bathing baby for at least 24 hours after birth, and then only use plain water for at least 4 weeks. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2315785/
- Minimize the handling of baby by non-family members during the first weeks.
- Exclusively breastfeed.
- Avoid giving baby unnecessary antibiotics. http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v35/n4/full/ijo201127a.html
- Probiotics may also be beneficial for babies suffering from colic.