According to a Danish study, babies born via C-section are more likely to be hospitalised more frequently and develop immune disorders such as asthma, allergies and diabetes.
The exact cause of this isn’t clear, and the operation itself is not likely to be the direct cause of these effects, so what could it be?
Recent research has shown the essential role that our gut flora play when it comes to our physiology and even behaviour. Our gut has been dubbed our ‘Second brain’ and this term could be a lot truer than we currently know. During vaginal birth, the baby picks up the bacteria present in the vaginal canal which is the first bacteria the baby comes into contact with.
The second lot of bacteria babies are exposed to are in breast milk. It’s vitally important to breast feed (if you can), and not to rely on formula (if you have the choice – I understand that breast feeding isn’t an option for a lot of women); non-breast fed babies are more likely to have frequent infections and childhood obesity. There are also increased risks for mothers who don’t breast feed like post natal depression and a higher risk of some diseases.
The combination of vaginal and breast milk bacteria sets up the foundation of the ecosystem living within our bodies and determines the bacterial species likely to take up residence within us.
This could be a possible explanation for why babies born by caesarean have decreased immune function in later life.
Our gut flora plays a role in breaking down food, modulating the immune system, protecting against pathogens and maintaining the gut mucosal lining. We have evolved with these species and rely on them for a lot of functions that our own bodies can’t perform. Research has shown that they also play a role in modulating behaviour and mood. It seems that sayings we’ve used for years: ‘gut feeling’, ‘following your gut’ etc. could be more accurate than we previously thought. The complex arrangement of signalling neurons that make up our enteric nervous system links the gut very closely to the brain, hence why we ‘feel’ emotions in our stomachs.
I understand that motherhood and birth are very personal, very sensitive issues; and the aim of my post is only to make people aware and to educate. To any expecting mothers, congratulations and I wish you all the best. And to all current mothers, you’re all amazing, you don’t get told it enough but you are.