The rise of cesarean births mirror the rise of asthma, allergies, and immune disorders diagnosed in children. There's speculation, and a modest amount of evidence, that exposure to vaginal flora during a vaginal birth stimulates the immune system, regulates the gut and prevents the growth of dangerous bacteria.
Vaginal seeding is some parents solution to this problem. Vaginal seeding means swabbing baby with vaginal fluids following a cesarean birth. These fluids are collected prior to birth. A sterile gauze is folded and inserted into the vagina and left to soak up beneficial vaginal microbiota for one hour.
In a very small pilot study conducted by Dominguez-Bello, the microbiome of infants in whom vaginal seeding was done post-C-section resembled that of vaginally delivered infants. While vaginal seeding is interesting and potentially beneficial to the protection of the microbiome, currently, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) does not recommend routine vaginal seeding as there isn't enough data regarding its safety and effectiveness. The main concern with vaginal seeding is the spreading of undiagnosed infections in the mother (Group B Strep, chlamydia, gonorrhea, human papillomavirus, group A streptococci, and herpes simplex virus, among others), which could result in neonatal infection.
If you had a c-birth it can be frustrating to hear how the mode of delivery impacts the long-term health of your baby. The fact is sometimes cesareans are necessary and life-saving. If you did birth by cesarean, out of necessity or not, learning about its effect on your baby’s health isn’t about judging the type of birth you had, it’s about exploring solutions, letting go of judgment and guilt so we can move forward to support our children’s health.
What you can do to promote the health of your baby's microbiome:
Breastfeed for at least 6 months
Practice skin to skin
Give your child a probiotic.