This photo was taken after a client of mine gave birth via c-section. Before surgery, this mom requested that her doctor insert a piece of gauze into her vagina. This same gauze was used seconds after she gave birth. They used it to swab inside of her baby’s mouth and rub around her eyes. And on her skin.
This somewhat new practice is known to help colonize the baby’s gut with beneficial microflora. The idea is to give her a better start in life.
“Seeding” is getting more and more attention from doctors that perform c-sections. As well as concerned mom’s who need to have one.
How it works for a c-section birthed baby…
During a c-section birth, the baby doesn’t come into contact with mom’s vaginal flora. Instead she receives more bacteria from airborne bacteria and from her mom’s skin. And from the doctor, nurse(s), etc. The baby’s bacterial will resemble the bacteria that live on the mom’s skin.
This is a concern, because this primary colonization of random types of bacteria can make baby more susceptible to harmful pathogens and illness. Especially down the road in years to come. Like type 1 diabetes, asthma, allergies, eczema, and other gut issues.
How it works for a vaginal birthed baby…
During a vaginal birth, the baby comes in direct contact with mom’s vaginal flora. Unless you got a baby born in the caul (amniotic sac). But typically these membranes rupture and the mom’s water breaks.
At this point the baby’s gut flora is immediately colonized by mom’s own flora. And these colonies continue to be planted as the baby’s moves down and out through the birth canal.
A vaginal baby is literally coated with a huge and diverse quantity of its mom’s microbes. And right after birth, that baby’s bacterial community will resemble the bacteria that live in the mom’s vagina.
The main concerns…
If mom’s vaginal health is imbalanced or if she has an infection then there’s a risk in spreading that infection to the baby. This is why every mom is screened for healthy microbial ecology prior to “seeding”. The doctor or midwife would check to make sure that mom doesn’t have HIV, GBS+, STD, etc.
This isn’t fecal transplant people. It may sound gross, but the female body is designed to have a baby come out through the vagina. That baby is going to be rubbed all around the birth canal. As it comes out of the vagina, the baby will also gulp in some vaginal fluids.
Maybe a little weird…
I think it seems weird because we’re talking about it. Putting words to something that just is. Labeling it now as a procedure. But, a c-section is a procedure. One that is often necessary for both mom and baby. So this is an option to mimic the vaginal birthing process. Bring the two together into something more whole for baby to experience.
Seeding is simply exposing a baby partially to the natural environment that he or she would have experienced if it’d been born through it’s mom’s vagina.
The logical part…
During a vaginal birth, a baby’s face rubs against the mucous membranes of the birth canal. This can go on for quite some time as the contractions pulse and push the baby out. Then the baby’s face, and often her open mouth, is in direct contact with the mom’s vaginal flora.
This means, that before that baby is even out of the birth canal, the bacteria have started to grow and multiply in #’s. In this way, the entire birth process is much more than a baby coming out – it’s a major colonizing process.
Levy, K. (2013). My Baby, My Microbiome. At
May all bellies be happy