In this blog we will dive into why poop in the birth place is actually a good thing!
Not all bugs are bad.
You may or may not know that your baby’s body has bacteria in it before it is even born. For that matter everyone’s body does. It is one of the elements that aids in digestion and our overall good health.
It makes it easier if you view your body as an “ecosystem”. Teaming with life. And each piece has an important job to do. if you added up all the number of cells in your body only 43% are human! You are mostly microbiome. So how much and the variety of the bacteria in your body can be directly connected to how healthy you are overall.
Most of the Bacteria in our body is in our gut. These hosts of bacteria are known as the “Microbiome”. Scientists believe that bacteria act as a thermostat for your immune system.
(600 diapers) X (6-12 months) = (A crap ton of poop)
We are still learning what roll our Microbiome plays in our overall health. There was a study done by by the Wellcome Sanger Institute,, and the University of Birmingham to examine how our body’s microbiome forms after birth.
They collected samples from 600 babies for the first 6 months of life, and a few samples were even taken up to a year after birth.
What they found was that babies born vaginally got most of their bacteria from their mother. Very likely from the birth canal and vaginal area.
But when they examined baby’s born by C-section they noticed a much higher amount of bacteria contracted from the hospital environment, as much as possibly 30% of their microbiome was hospital germs!
Thankfully these differences in bacteria in the microbiome mostly even out by the first year. Scientists believe that the first few months the microbiome trains our immune system. It’s a brilliant system considering that babies all over the world face completely different immune system needs depending on their environment. So the baby, mom’s genitalia, and breastmilk all work together to train baby’s immune system.
So what does this mean for baby’s born via C-section?
Baby’s born via C-section have higher rates of Type 1 Diabetes, Asthma, and Allergies. A compromised immune system could play a big roll in the causes and management of those health issues.
There was a trend known as “vaginal seeding” or “swabbing” where mother’s would rub vaginal fluid on their C-section baby’s face and mouth. Sadly this method did not increase the baby’s chances of a healthier microbiome and potentially could expose them to group B strep.
Is mom poop the new mom spit?
Research shows that it is not the mother’s vaginal fluid that aids baby’s microbiome health, but actually the mother’s… fecal matter. That’s right mom poop is what feeds a newborns microbiome!
We are so obsessed with shame and things that are “dirty” in our society. I dive in to the topic of changing our viewpoints of “dirty” in the blog post “The Dirty Truth”.
Knowing that your poop helps create a thriving immune system in your infant has to bring at least a smidge of pride to pooping in your birth space!
So what can we do to nurture that good bacteria?
There will hopefully be a method in the future to give C-section babies a kind of cocktail of good bacteria! But for now here are some helpful ideas to help your C-section baby thrive!
1.Do not worry too much about your C-section baby!
C-sections should not be entered into lightly and they are most often a life saving measure. So don’t begrudge the C-section, it quite possibly, or definitely saved you or your baby’s life. But there are ways you can lower your risk of C-section.
- Choose a provider and birth setting with low C-Section rates.
- Stay active and healthy to prepare for labor.
- Arrange to have continuous labor support. (Look into a doula!)
- Get extra rest, especially towards the end of pregnancy to prepare for labor.
- Avoid induction unless medically necessary.
- Wait to be admitted to the hospital until in active labor (usually after 6 cm dilation or Purple line is around half way up the chart, we will talk about the purple line in a later section).
- While in labor stay upright as much as possible.
- Be an informed patient, know your rights and know your options.
2. Eat lots of Fiber Rich Foods While You are Pregnant and/or Breastfeeding.
This will also be great for your gut health. Fiber rich foods increase your Microbiome variety as well as your baby’s!
3. Delay the First Bath
Delaying baby’s bath for at least 24 hours can help them soak up all the good stuff leftover from birth.
Probiotics are already used on premie baby’s to help improve their young gut. This has greatly improved outcomes in premie infants. Giving probiotics to your infants can reduce their risk of childhood eczema and newborn colic as well.
5. Get an Indoor Dog
This one might seem very strange but it is backed by the research. Babies raised in households with dogs have fewer ear infections, colds, needed fewer courses of antibiotics during the first year, allergic sensitization, eczema, Type 1 Diabetes, and asthma. As you may have noticed all of the health issues your C-section baby are more likely to face are on that list!
6. Avoid Unnecessary Antibiotics
Antibiotics are amazing! And very often life saving! Definitely do not avoid antibiotics if you or your baby really need them!
Sadly antibiotics are over prescribed. Many parents are quick to rush their baby to the doctor and parents often leave frustrated that it’s a virus or with an antibiotic. And sadly many of the infections the antibiotics are sometimes prescribed for they are completely ineffective at fighting against, like viral infections, common colds, and ear infections.
And doctors often times are not necessarily to blame for this. Antibiotics are more often than not prescribed at urgent care centers by different doctors. The doctor offering your child their 3rd course of antibiotics in a single year may believe he is the first.
But truthfully as hard as it is to see your child sick it is important for their microbiome and their immune system to fight off infections. The more their body fights them off the better it will become at fighting infections in general.
If an illness is mild and can be resolved on it’s own it should. Before you accept a prescription discuss with your doctor if it is truly necessary. Go over the risks and benefits. I cover how to make informed decisions in a blog post: “What is Informed Consent”. In that blog post I have a helpful graphic that can help you navigate any of your health decisions!
7. The biggest thing you can do to help your baby’s overall health is to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding is the best food for gut bacteria and breastmilk grows smarter over time as it comes in contact with the bacteria in your infants body. What a perfect give and take system! Breastmilk also communicates with the mom’s body so that it gets information on how to benefit baby from her microbiome too!
And this benefit is helpful for however long you choose to breastfeed! Wether it be 1 hour, 4 years, or more! I delve into breastfeeding and weaning in my blogpost: “Everybody Weans”
What does this all mean!?
It’s a lot of information to absorb but I want to sum it up easily for you!
- Not all bugs are bad. Help grow that bacteria!
- Your poop is an amazing gift that helps nourish your baby’s fledgeling immune system.
- Just because your baby was born via C-section does not mean that you can’t nurture your baby’s microbiome.
I have only begun to scratch the surface in this amazing topic and I can’t wait to write more about it in the future!
Until then there are so many ways to connect with my ministry and learn all kinds of amazing facts!
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Abbey is a Birth, Postpartum, Bereavement, and Sibling Doula, Breastfeeding Educator, Post Abortion Counselor, Photographer, and Artisan in Fort Worth Texas. Abbey strives to make services available to everyone through financial assistance, income based services, and more!