When babies are born by Cesarean, they miss out on establishing a strong, normal immune system.
- When a baby is born by Cesarean section, that baby misses out on picking up the mother’s immune system that she passes on to her child through her vagina, and even her fecal matter. The majority, 80%, of the mother’s immune system, exists in her digestive tract and her vagina. Baby doesn’t pass through her vagina and misses out on picking up the good, healthy bacteria that establishes baby’s immune system.
- The baby does get exposed to some good bacteria from the placenta, and the amniotic fluid. But not enough to make up for what is missed through a vaginal birth.
- Mother’s bacteria changes in the last trimester, increasing the amounts of lactobacilli in both her vagina and her intestines. It’s this lactobacilli that will colonize the baby through the mouth, eyes, ears, and the skin as he/she passes through the birth canal. This lactobacilli bacteria is good bacteria and helps baby digest milk among other benefits.
- Cesarean babies do not develop a normal immune system through birth because they did not pass through the birth canal and are not exposed to mother’s disease fighting bacteria.
Here’s What You Can Do About It:
10 Tips to Boost Your Cesarean-Born Baby’s Immune System?
- Ask your care provider about seeding post-birth. The care provider places a sterile gauze inside the mother’s vagina for at least an hour. After birth, the gauze that has been in the mother’s birth canal is wiped all over the baby’s body and in the mouth so that the beneficial microbes from the mother’s birth canal can be absorbed through the baby’s skin. Note: This procedure has not been studied thoroughly or proven beneficial long term.
- Keep your baby skin-to-skin with mother or father/partner, if possible, right after birth or within the first 24 hours after birth.
- Breastfeed your baby. Your breast milk provides both probiotics, immunoglobulin A which is essential for immune system function, hormones, enzymes, beneficial fats, and good bacteria.
- Mix your breastmilk with infant probiotics.
- Boost the immune strength of your breastmilk. Eat fermented foods: Kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, fermented tea/kombucha, tempeh and miso.
- Eat pre-biotics like brown rice, quinoa, oats.
- Eat raw herbs like dandelion root, burdock root, chicory root – all found in health food stores or in an Asian market or in supplement form.
- Eat lots of vegetables.
- Eat lots of fresh fruit.
- Take probiotics made especially for breastfeeding moms.
If you are still pregnant and reading this, take a good childbirth class, hire a doula, hire a care provider who is an advocate of vaginal birth. If you plan to have another child after a Cesarean, plan for a VBAC. For more information on VBAC go to www.vbacfacts.com
Your Baby’s Microbiome by Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford