There’s a new trend in birthing suites all over Australia.
It’s got parents intrigued, and non-parents well, kind of grossed out. But, is there more to vaginal seeding than just an ick-factor?
Well – according to a recent report published in the British Medical Journal – the birthing trend is not only controversial, it can be dangerous.
For those who need a quick refresher, vaginal seeding involves mothers who have their babies via c-section taking swabs of their vaginal fluid to rub on the face, body and in the mouth of their newborn.
Watch what Mamamia staff members first thought when they saw their baby (post continues after video).
This is inspired by the simple idea that a natural birth via the vagina exposes a baby to a range of bacteria to bolster the immune system, but the implications of doing so can actually be wide-ranging and complex to an infant. Meanwhile, the supposed benefits of vaginal seeding are at best negligible and mostly unproven.
“Babies born by cesarean sections miss out on some of this natural goodness. Instead, they are mainly colonised by skin microbes, a very different set of species,” Imperial College London’s senior lecturer Aubrey Cunnington said in the paper.
“This difference in microbiota is said to be still measurable months and possibly even years after birth. This is where the idea of ‘vaginal seeding’ comes into play, to try and correct that balance and restore some of the good bacteria to the baby.”
Some misleading reports on vaginal seeding’s potential benefits have led to increased demand for the practice, drowning out the voices of professionals, Cunnington says.
The consequences of the practice can be devastating, including severe infections and disease, because “vaginal seeding (can) result in many unintended neonatal exposures.”
“We have already needed to intervene to prevent vaginal seeding from a woman with genital herpes, and we expect trouble if the procedure gains wide popularity.”
Given this, The British Medical Journal advises against vaginal seeding, telling professionals the risks are simply too great for a practice which is yet to have proven positive outcomes. The publication also put out a warning to parents to seek medical assistance immediately if their infant is to become unwell.
“Of course, this may change in the future if evidence emerges to show clear health benefits of vaginal seeding. But at the moment the jury remains out on whether vaginal seeding actually does more harm than good.”
Would you try vaginal seeding? Or do you agree the potential cons outweigh the pros?