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Is vaginal seeding worth it?

Have you heard of vaginal seeding? 🤔 Increasingly popular, vaginal seeding is a hot and controversial topic. But before we get to that, what is vaginal seeding?

Vaginal seeding is a method used by women who have caesarean births to transfer the vaginal bacteria to their babies that they would have been exposed to in the birth canal. It works by placing gauze swabs in your vagina and, once the baby is born, rubbing these swabs onto baby’s face and body.

Why? Well, babies who are born by C-section are slightly more at risk of developing conditions longer term such as asthma, allergies and immune disorders. And some scientists think this is because if a baby is delivered vaginally, they tend to swallow a fair amount of vaginal as well as faecal (yup) bacteria. This helps to build a healthy microbiome in their gut, which makes them less likely to develop certain diseases. In contrast, if a baby is born by caesarean, they’re generally exposed to a lot less bacteria.⁠

The evidence for the benefits of vaginal seeding is somewhat patchy. Scientists and clinicians disagree about the validity of this approach and whether it actually reduces the likelihood of asthma, for example. Healthcare professionals worry that vaginal seeding can expose babies to harmful infections, and they instead choose to promote skin to skin and breastfeeding until more data becomes available. It seems the jury is out on this one.⁠