The leading group of obstetricians and gynecologists has spoken out to warn expectant mothers against vaginal seeding. The practice, which is also known as microbirthing, involves taking a swab from the mother’s vagina and wiping this over the baby shortly after birth by caesarean section.
Babies born through C-section do not receive certain helpful vaginal microbes from the birth canal when they’re born, which could help protect them from allergies, asthma and other illnesses. The doctors say that the trend is on the rise, but they do not recommend the procedure.
The idea is that vaginal seeding allows a baby born via caesarean section to come into contact with bacteria from the birth canal. The most concerning thing about vaginal seeding is the potential for transmitting pathogens, such as herpes simplex virus, human papilloma virus (HPV), group B streptococci and Neisseria gonorrhea.
Experts have warned that vaginal seeding, where an infant born by caesarean section is swabbed with fluids from a mother’s vagina, could pass potentially-dangerous bacteria and illnesses such as sexually transmitted infections to the newborn.
“Due to the lack of sufficient data, the very real risks [of vaginal seeding] outweigh the potential benefits,” said Dr. Christopher Zahn, vice president of practice activities for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), in a statement.
“By swabbing an infant’s mouth, nose or skin with vaginal fluid after birth, the mother could potentially and unknowingly, pass on disease-causing bacteria or viruses,” he explained. There’s also a chances that if a mother has an STI she doesn’t know about, such as chlamydia, there’s a possibility that it could be passed onto the baby.
“Breastfeeding for the first six months is the best way to overcome the lack of exposure to maternal vaginal flora at birth,” Zahn said. “The bacteria present in breast milk and on the nipple are sufficient for natural colonisation or seeding of the gut,” he added.