My cousin is going to have a baby. I can say no one pays more attention to all the pregnancy and baby related ideas than me because she's my favorite sister. Recently, I’ve just added this trend to my reading list: vaginal seeding. Also called “microbirthing,” this process refers to applying vaginal fluids and microbes to a newborn child’s nose, mouth, or skin after a cesarean section (C-section).
When I first read about this, I gave a blank stare and then I was like “Awwww. It’s so disgusting. *screaming in silence*” I mean, vaginal seeding is better than consuming mom’s placenta, but it’s still VERY strange. But now that it has been so popular, I’d like to learn if it's truly helpful for the baby. So, I searched for some medical info about the pros and cons of vaginal seeding.
The pros of vaginal seeding
Although vaginal seeding sounds wacky, it does have some good intentions. This process is meant to make C-section babies like those born in natural vaginal birth.
During a vaginal delivery, the baby shares a microbial bond with the mother because his skin, nose and mouth are seeded with microorganisms from the mom's body. This bond may provide the baby with “good” bacteria, give him a stronger immune system and protect him from various autoimmune diseases.
But C-section babies don’t have such microbial bond, which may explain why they tend to have a weaker immune system than those born in natural birth.
In other words, vaginal seeding can potentially protect babies from disease and regulating their immune function.
The cons of vaginal seeding
Although vaginal seeding has potential (keyword!) benefits as I mentioned above, there hasn’t been any enough research on the safety or even benefits of vaginal seeding.
What is worth noticing is that vaginal seeding may bring babies life-threatening infections such as Group B streptococci, HIV and chlamydia. For example, if the mom has group B streptococcus (20% of pregnant women have it) and passes it to the baby, the baby may develop eye infections or neonatal sepsis, a serious blood infection that can be deadly.
The potential pro versus the potential con. What will you choose? For me, the con never outweighs the pro. After all, a mom can use breastfeeding to boost her baby’s microbiome without taking any risks.
Experts also recommend that pregnant women stay away from vaginal seeding until its long-term effects are found out.
I know all mom-to-bes want to have a perfect and natural delivery. But life doesn’t always go our way. What we can do is to get prepared.