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c-section- 'seeding' and allergies/asthma

(30 Posts)
strangerjo Mon 22-Feb-16 00:05:30

I'm scheduled for a c section and have been reading about 'seeding'- i.e. taking a vaginal swab and rubbing it on the baby in the hope it populates the baby's gut with good bacteria and reduces their likelihood of allergies/asthma.
Has anyone done this or is anyone planning to do this? And if so, how? Any thoughts on this (for or against) would be welcomed.


InaCBabyno2inthemaking Mon 22-Feb-16 12:56:48

I haven't heard about this but sounds interesting. My son was born with c section and suffers from eczema. I've got no 2 on the way now and hope for a natural birth this time and will do anything to prevent eczema. If I couldn't have a natural birth I would read more and consider this. Can't do any harm so why not? Worth a shot I think

strangerjo Mon 22-Feb-16 13:10:16

Oh I have my fingers crossed that your second doesn't have eczema/allergies. My brother had it as a kid and he was born by c-section.... but I had it too and was vaginal (forceps) delivery. Neither of us were breastfed and both our parents have allergies so they might be factors.

sizethree Mon 22-Feb-16 13:50:12

I'm a vagibal birth baby and was exclusively breast fed for 4 months (weaning was recommended earlier back then than nowadays), I suffer eczema, asthma and hayfever abs there was no other allergy sufferers in the family.
My baby was born by emergency c section and is exclusively breast fed, as I'm hoping to protect her from the misery of the atopic triad.
I've never heard of seeding but my main caution would be the possible transference of Strep B.

PenguinVox Mon 22-Feb-16 18:29:03

I hadn't heard of seeding before but it sounds interesting. It's something I would consider if I were having an elective c section but I would be nervous about asking the hospital staff in case they hadn't heard of it and thought I was nuts. Do you know if it needs to be done immediately after birth for the full effect?
Also, everything I've read about vaginal deliveries being important for optimal gut flora etc also mentions the importance of exclusive breastfeeding. IMO breastfeeding must be more important and influential than exposure to vaginal microflora versus hospital bacteria at birth because breastfeeding is something that you can do long-term.

strangerjo Mon 22-Feb-16 20:36:52

Sizethree - I feel your pain. I had eczema and asthma as a child and allergies throughout adulthood. Luckily in 2009 I started immunotherapy for dust allergies and it made a huge difference to all my allergies. I was treated at the Royal Brompton and they were great. I went from overdosing on antihistamines and sprays every day to the occasional tablet.

I asked my midwife about seeding. She'd heard of it and didn't think it was a mad question (I thought she would). But the hospital won't do it for me and I don't know how it should be done.

Oly5 Tue 23-Feb-16 09:18:05

Seeding carries a risk of transferring group B strep to your baby. Why would you want to risk them developing such a serious infection? There are NO clinical trials showing the benefits of seeding - it is just a theory. In my view, the risks of seeding - such as transferring infections including group B strep - would outweigh any potential (and unproven) benefit
Breastfeeding has been shown to help prevent allergies, eczema, type 2 diabetes etc. Make this your focus if you can. Good luck x

strangerjo Tue 23-Feb-16 09:37:29

Oly5 - thank you for your view. Infection is a concern...but then it would be if I had a vaginal birth where the baby would be exposed to any infections in the birth canal for much longer. I've been tested for group b strep but it's possible I harbour other bad bacteria... I agree that breastfeeding is important.

PenguinVox Tue 23-Feb-16 19:46:28

I agree with you strangerjo, babies are exposed to their mother's vagina during a biologically normal delivery so I don't think there's any reason to worry about infection unless it is something you would be worried about if you were having a vaginal delivery. I don't like the idea that there is something inherently dangerous to babies in a woman's body. One of the ways formula milk was marketed was by making women think that breastfeeding was dirty and unhygienic and formula feeding was clean and better for babies because it was developed by scientists. Infact, my MIL even tried telling me that I needed to clean my nipples before each breastfeed!

PenguinVox Tue 23-Feb-16 19:53:36

However, I also agree with Oly5 that I think breastfeeding should be your main focus. You will be "seeding" your baby's gut with the bacteria and probiotics in your colostrum and milk and you can do it for as long as you and your baby want to.

anotherdayanothersquabble Tue 23-Feb-16 20:02:38

I think there is something in it this theory. This TED talk is worth watching. And there is another article I will head off to find.

One issue would be if your gut bacteria is compromised but if your allergies are under control that may not be an issue.

There was a programme a while ago that considered c-section, antibiotics and gut bacteria to be factors in allergies / asthma so it is worth looking into (IMO).

anotherdayanothersquabble Tue 23-Feb-16 20:10:38

This was the article but it says 'don't try this at home!'

anotherdayanothersquabble Tue 23-Feb-16 20:12:58


anotherdayanothersquabble Tue 23-Feb-16 20:15:10


BTW, if I knew then what I know now, I would have looked into my own microbiome before giving birth!!

strangerjo Tue 23-Feb-16 21:07:05

Anotherdayanothersquabble - thanks for all those links. I find this stuff fascinating. I'm now wondering whether probiotics for the baby are worth considering too...

PenguinVox Tue 23-Feb-16 21:23:53

It only says "don't try this at home" to cover their backs. If you weren't going to be tested for fungal and bacterial infections days before having a vaginal birth then you don't need to be tested before "seeding" at home.
Re: probiotics for babies, there are probiotics in breastmilk. Any probiotics marketed for babies will have been developed after research into the probiotics in breastmilk.

Blackpoollassy Wed 24-Feb-16 08:41:48

this might be helpful?

SaveMeTheWaltz Wed 24-Feb-16 10:03:06

There was also a balanced article on vaginal seeding in the BMJ this week: a link to the summary is here:

strangerjo Wed 24-Feb-16 11:25:30

SaveMeTheWaltz - that's very interesting, thank you. The main objection seems to be the risk of infection but that risk exists if the baby is delivered vaginally. If a woman is tested for infection and gets the all-clear, I wonder if they would still object in theory.

anotherdayanothersquabble Wed 24-Feb-16 11:54:38

The whole area of research into how the microbiome and genetics especially MTHFR mutations are linked to allergies is fascinating. As well as whether interventions can really counteract these risks.

Primaryteach87 Wed 24-Feb-16 16:56:13

Given that women who give birth vaginally would have the potential to pass on infection I don't see this as a worry. All in all, very limited (normal) risks and possibly benefits. It's certainly not proven, but I would give it a go. I don't know why you'd need anyone's permission. It's a very low-tech thing!!

lynholmerpark Wed 24-Feb-16 17:06:36

Midwife who looks after you pre/during/post c section should support you in this. Usually facilitated by birth partners though so get them onboard. I've seen seeding a few times in the unit where I work. Good luck with your birth xx

OneMagnumisneverenough Wed 24-Feb-16 17:17:15

I've had two by CS. DS1 breastfed for 6 weeks as i had issues with it that I couldn't seem to get any help for. DS2 breast fed for 6 months.

They are almost 16 and 15 now and extraordinarily healthy, no allergies whatsoever. Neither have had time of school with any sickness or illness since they were 6. DS1 hasn't even had a cold for 3 years! If anything he is the healthier than DS2 as he has occasional colds and had strep throat once.

However they did both have a (more or less) daily probiotic from toddlerhood until about age 11. If DS1 had a cold he would be a bit sicky, he was also a bit refluxy as a baby and this seemed to sort his tummy issues out.

CatchingBabies Thu 25-Feb-16 19:20:40

There is a documentary about seeding called microbirth and it's fascinating! For what it's worth there Is evidence backing up the benefits they are quoted throughout the documentary. The daily mail story is just usual scaremongering with no research behind their statements whatsoever!

JizzyStradlin Thu 25-Feb-16 22:12:17

The 'Microbirth' film is hardly scientific. Bit of a laugh to be slagging the DM for being slanted whilst quoting a film made by non-experts! The BMJ article linked upthread more accurately represents the current state of knowledge when it says we don't at this point have evidence that seeding benefits the baby.

And penguin, there is something that can be dangerous to babies in some women's bodies. That's what Group B strep is. Doesn't really matter whether anyone likes the idea or not. I'm sure we'd all rather it wasn't so! As other posters point out, the risk from seeding isn't likely to be any less the risk during an ordinary VB, but the difference is you have a choice about the former. You don't really have a choice about the latter unless you'd choose and be able to access ELCS because of it, which most women don't. For that reason I'd probably want testing before choosing to seed. Otherwise you're avoidably taking a small but known risk, in pursuit of a benefit whose existence we can't confirm. It's a really interesting theory though. I hope we do see some more conclusive research soon. There are clearly women who want to do it so it makes sense to study them.

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