After a c-section, wiping a mother’s vaginal fluid on her newborn could be beneficial to her baby’s health later on in life. And, hopefully, aid in the child’s development through the years.
- C-sections are becoming a more popular choice for expecting mothers
- WHO recommends c-sections only when the mother or child’s life might be in danger (10-15% of cases)
- C-sections deprive the newborn of beneficial bacteria taken from the vaginal canal
- These bacteria are important for the development of the immune system
Caesarean sections, or c-sections, are becoming far more commonly performed through the years. In fact, there has been an upsurge in the number of mothers who opt for surgery instead of natural birth. This is in spite of the fact that the World Health Organization is only recommending the procedure for situations where either the mother or the baby is at risk. That amounts for just between 10 to 15% of the total births. And yet, the numbers keep rising.
It might be the advancement in medicine that now make the surgery safer and the scar much less apparent on the mother’s skin. Regardless of the reason, c-sections have increased in numbers, and there are certain studies that suggest they might not necessarily be beneficial in the long run. According to previous researchers, children born through c-section have a higher likelihood of developing certain conditions. This includes asthma, atopic disease, type 1 diabetes, obesity, or other immuno-deficiencies.
This has been widely attributed to the lack of good bacteria that the baby receives through vaginal birth. During the process, the child’s orifices get colonized by these microbes, including its mouth, skin, and gut. They form the microbiome, which is essential in the development of a strong immune system. By forcing the delivery without the child going through the vaginal canal, it will be deprived of such vital components.
The team of researchers, thus, conducted a study to see if these types of bacteria can be inserted and be beneficial post birth. They examined 7 children born through vaginal birth and 11 born through c-section. Among the latter group, 4 of them were swabbed with their mother’s vaginal fluids between 1 to 2 minutes after birth. It was gathered by placing a gauze within the mother’s vagina one hour before the planned surgery.
One month after the delivery, they tested each of the children, collecting over 1,500 samples from several parts of their bodies. According to the researchers, they found that newborns who have been swabbed with their mother’s vaginal fluids presented with a microbiome similar to those who had been born through the vagina. This presented as an exceptional reason to further explore the matter.
According to lead author of the study, Jose Clemente from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, if they prove this technique is beneficial long term, it could become a common practice. This is especially important given the increasing number of mothers opting for c-sections.
Admittedly, there might be situations where the technique will not be recommended or even possible in scenarios such as emergency c-sections. There would be no time for the gauze to gather the mother’s vaginal fluids. However, there is potential. The microbes are highly significant to a child’s immune system and might even aid the metabolism, digestion, and brain development.
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