Vaginal Birth and Gut Flora; A Reason to Not Choose a C-Section:
by Lauren Feder, M.D.

(Excerpt from Natural Pregnancy)

On only rare occasions, C-sections are a medical necessity.  In the United States the C-section rate can be over 30%.  Although most C-sections were not planned ahead of time, on occasion some women choose to have a C-section.   If you have a choice with regards to the matter, consider the following information about the consequences on long-term health.

 The word descendant comes from the fact that our babies descend through the birth canal, which is important for baby’s immune system. Baby’s first inoculation is not breast milk or a vaccination, but descending through the birth canal. In a healthy normal person, billions of bacteria and microorganisms, called microbiota (or flora) reside in the gut, skin, and even in the vagina. When born vaginally, baby’s mouth and nose are exposed to mother’s vaginal microbiota. This beneficial flora from mother helps to seed and colonize baby’s own intestinal tract with immune boosting microorganisms. Babies born by C-section are deprived of vaginal flora and lack a specific group of bacteria.   According to a study from the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the birth—either vaginal or C-section—can influence a newborn’s gut bacteria, and may have an impact on lifelong health. As research continues regarding the link between health and gut flora, children born by C-section have been shown to have higher rates of such illnesses as asthma, allergies, obesity, diabetes type 1, food allergies, and eczema. Vaginal birth is optimal because during pregnancy mother’s birth canal changes to a higher concentration of lactobacillus which is the bacteria needed for milk digestion.  In addition, research shows that babies born vaginally produce less gas and suffer less colic as a result.  

References: Natural Pregnancy by Lauren Feder, MD