National Women's Day Of India: Can Vaginal Bacteria Boost An Infant's Health?

National Women's Day Of India: Do you know that foetus in utero is bacteria-free? 

Tavishi Dogra
Written by: Tavishi DograPublished at: Feb 12, 2020Updated at: Feb 12, 2020
National Women's Day Of India: Can Vaginal Bacteria Boost An Infant's Health?

The big switch from the mother’s womb to the external world is the time when a new-born baby tends to ingest some of the first bacteria that will inhabit its guts. While a mother delivers a child through a natural vaginal delivery, the vagina is known to be colonised by bacteria which play a major role in positively nurturing the baby’s gut. It has been proven that this early bacterial colonisation of the baby’s gut, helps to lend them a diverse, and perhaps favourable, set of gut bacteria. While babies delivered normally get exposed to these good microbes directly, babies born through a C-section delivery tend to miss out on this advantageous process, and hence are probable to end up with a diverse set of bugs mainly the bacteria associated with the hospital environment.


Various researches conducted in this area have found out that the C-section the microbiome has a possibility of making the child more susceptible to health issues later in life, such as allergies to certain foods, asthma, hay fever and even obesity problems. The problem is more severe in prematurely born babies. In such cases, it is advisable to mitigate this jeopardy by reinstating the microbiome of C-section babies a process which is called as vaginal seeding or micro birthing.

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What exactly is vaginal seeding?


It has been studied that infants born by cesarean have a high proportion of skin flora colonizing their gut, while those born naturally have a microbiota that more closely share a resemblance with the mother’s gut and vaginal flora. The notion of vaginal seeding has materialized, and popularized in recent times, as a way to expose new-borns to motherly vaginal flora post a C section delivery process where the mother delivers with no labour pain and has intact membranes. The procedure encompasses dipping a cotton gauze or wipe with vaginal fluids and shifting it to the newborn’s mouth, nose or skin.

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Bacterial bath for C-section babies

Since these babies are not directly exposed to the good bacteria, before a scheduled caesarean, the medical experts will lend the female a disinfected gauze, which is concertina-folded and implanted like a tampon about an hour before getting operated. Just before the women are taken to the operating theatre, the skilled expert will remove the gauze.


Care and precautions that need to be taken in this process

Before conducting the seeding procedure, the medical expert will ensure to screen the mothers for damaging bacteria as well as some viral and fungal contagions. With faecal contamination at times, it gets challenging to be certain of not transmitting something that might lead to infection, or put a baby at augmented jeopardy of falling prey to disease in the upcoming future. Hence it is advised to consult your medical practitioner before you decide to try the procedure.

(With inputs from Dr Anagha Karkhanis - Senior Gynaecologist and Infertility Specialist and Director of Cocoon Fertility)

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