Some Say Vaginal Seeding Is Dangerous, Here's Why This OB/GYN Disagrees
Ever feel like health news is too overwhelming, fast-paced, or hard to decipher? Us too. Here, we filter through the latest in integrative health, wellness trends, and nutrition advice, reporting on the most exciting and meaningful breakthroughs. We’ll tell you exactly what you need to know—and how it might help you become a healthier and happier human.
A recent article in Fatherly stated that "the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has ruled the procedure unnecessary and, in some cases, downright dangerous." The rationale was that although there are beneficial bacteria in the vagina, there are also pathogenic bacteria like STIs and group B streptococcus (GBS) bacteria, which is responsible for more than 150,000 infant deaths worldwide. This is a frightening statistic. But does it tell the whole story?
Vaginal seeding is a practice used to protect the microbiome of babies born via cesarean section. The technique transfers bacteria from mom to baby manually, so the newborn can be exposed to the bacteria it would have encountered naturally had it traveled through the birth canal. Many leading integrative and functional medicine doctors praise the procedure, since being born via a C-section has been associated with higher rates of allergies, asthma, and even obesity in children—due to the lack of bacteria the baby is exposed to during the first few minutes of life.
Dr. Cabeca—an OB/GYN and integrative women's health expert—considers this article "inflammatory" and points out that it doesn't cite any studies directly linking vaginal seeding to any negative clinical outcomes. The reality, according to the CDC, is that one in four women carries GBS, which is transmitted easily by touching the nose, face, and eyes, or through sexual contact and breathing. According to Dr. Cabeca, "This article infuriatingly tries to sensationalize against a very safe procedure known as vaginal seeding, which is an attempt to pass healthy maternal vaginal microbiome on to her newborn infant in a desire to reduce the growing number of adverse medical conditions associated with C-section birth."
As an OB/GYN, Dr. Cabeca always screens for and treats GBS infections, and even went on to say that a positive infection is not even a reason to avoid a vaginal delivery or choose a C-section. Although some babies fall ill and it can be dangerous, most babies who get GBS from their mothers don't have any issue. And normally, the passing of this bacteria from mom to baby is prevented with a routine screening test that is given during prenatal care.
Dr. Cabeca is still a huge proponent of restoring the neonatal microbiome as quickly as possible after a C-section using vaginal seeding procedure. We definitely need more research on the topic, but what's currently out there has been promising when it comes to improving health in the long term.