Most women want to deliver a baby into this world the natural way. By natural, it doesn't mean "entirely free of pain-relief medication, but vaginally--the natural way a woman's body is designed to give birth. That's also because of the many benefits that it can offer; one of which is faster recovery compared to those who give birth via C-section.
However, there are some women are too afraid of the pain of childbirth that they opt to deal with caring for after-birth stiches. Others who've had a C-section simply didn't have a choice, because doctors deemed it necessary to ensure the health of both the mom and child.
But what of the many benefits of a natural birth, are they forever lost to a mom who delivered her baby via C-section? Perhaps, not all benefits.
When a babies are delivered naturally, they get to take in their first taste of bacteria from the mother's vagina that will colonize their guts. This contains lactobacillus, which helps a newborn digest human milk. Babies who were delivered via C-section miss out on this and grow up to be more sickly. Research has proven that C-section babies were more likely to develop immune and metabolic disorders such as asthma, allergies, and even obesity.
A new albeit small study published in the journal Nature Medicine has found that giving a C-section baby a swab of his mother's sterile vaginal fluids can give him a more "vaginal-birth like microbiome,” or gut bacteria. Of the 18 mothers who were part of the study, “the C-section babies that were swabbed had a more vaginal-like microbiota than those that weren’t,” said Jose Clemente, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and co-author of the study.
Also known as “seeding”, the process is quite simple. The pregnant woman will be given a sterile tampon-like gauze to be inserted in her vagina an hour before a C-section. Before she is wheeled into the operating room, the gauze is removed and bagged tio prevent contamination. Then, within two to three minutes after birth, the baby is swabbed with the gauze on his mouth, body, and anus.
"This study shows we can restore, at least partially, the microbiome of the mother to the baby. What we don't know is if the reason the risk is greater is because of the difference in the microbiome," study lead author Rob Knight, director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at University of California San Diego, said to The Los Angeles Times. A larger study to further delve into the effects of vaginal microbial transfer is already underway, added Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, an associate professor of medicine at New York University and also study a lead author.
ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Note to all pregnant women, though: The procedure is not--repeat, NOT--recommended in public practice (yet). You would need to talk to your doctor if you’d like to arrange the procedure for your baby, as with any decision you make regarding your pregnancy. There are risks for the transfer of unhealthy bacteria and viruses, bacteria, and other types of germs from the environment.
Sources February 1, 2016. "Why doctors are swiping C-section babies with their mom's microbiome" (latimes.com) February 2, 2016. "Using a Mother’s Microbes to Protect Cesarean Babies" (nytimes.com)