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Vaginal seeding

If you have a caesarean, your baby will miss out on a healthy dose of bacteria as they travel through the vagina. Newborns get three doses of bacteria as they’re born. First as they travel down the vagina, second from skin to skin, and third when they breast feed. This bacteria is important in colonising babies microbiome and immature gut flora, and their developing immune system. Because of this reason, some mothers request vaginal seeding. This involves swabbing the vagina and wiping the fluid on the baby to “seed” baby with the bacteria they would have picked up as they were born vaginally.

As with any decision in birth, it’s important to read up on the risks and benefits of any procedure, and vaginal seeding is no different. It is argued that c-section babies have a higher instance of asthma, atopic disease, eczema, allergies and immune disorders, so vaginal seeding is to allow for proper colonization of the fetal gut, reducing the risk of these diseases.

However, there is also arguments against this practice, which state that the procedure could introduce bad bacteria to baby, increasing the risk of sepsis and serious infection. If they had been born vaginally, they would have been exposed to these strains of bacteria regardless, but it’s important to consider this risk. Vaginal seeding is NOT recommended if you have tested positive for Group B Streptococcus.

There is very little research in this area, so it is important to read up on what literature exists before deciding whether to vaginally seed or not. You can find some in-depth information on vaginal seeding on the American College of Gynecologists website

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