When Ben and I made the decision to create a small person, we spent a lot of time researching and discussing how to create an eczema free baby. Ben developed eczema as a child and the last thing we wanted was for our child to experience it too. Ellie is almost one now and has the most beautiful peachy skin a baby could wish for! I’m sure you’re interested to know why we put so much importance on ensuring that she was born as naturally as possible.
Over the years, Ben had read lots about how children born via C-section were more likely to develop eczema. This was due to babies missing out on the many benefits of travelling down the birth canal. Vaginal delivery would be the best option to ensure she encountered my microbiome on her way out. Obviously, we cannot completely control birth. (If only we could!) However, I did the best I could to avoid a C-section. I kept fit and healthy during pregnancy, held off as long as possible to accept induction and turned down medication in the delivery suite. Why?
If mothers are fit and healthy during pregnancy they are less likely to need a planned or emergency C-section due to complications at the end of pregnancy.
I was offered induction on my due date as Ellie is an IVF baby. I declined and met with a consultant midwife to discuss leaving Ellie in there for as long as safely possible (14 days but hospital protocol was 12 days).The idea was that if I did require induction she would be closer to arriving by herself than if we opted for induction on my due date. This resulted in a relatively quick induction process. It is thought that many induced babies are born before they are truly ready so it can take a long time and higher doses of medication to get them moving along. Data suggests that babies born using induction methods can result in complications that require emergency C-section.
The decision to only use gas and air in the delivery suite was taken because I had read about how epidurals and other pain relief can make it difficult to push, thus increasing the incidence of emergency C-sections.
Of course, the best-laid plans can go wrong! I was determined that Ellie would arrive before 14 days overdue but she had other plans! I ended up going 14 days over! Induction was on the cards but we had a back up plan for if a C-section was required. I had read about ‘seeding’ and had discussed this in my birth plan. If you haven’t heard of this, it is when a gauze is wiped around the mother’s vagina and then is wiped over the baby’s mouth, face and body. This is a great option to ensure that the baby is exposed to the vaginal microbiome if C-section is the only option available to you. I should tell you that currently there has been no research to prove the method is beneficial and there are some concerns over the risk of infection from other unhelpful bacteria that may be present in the birth canal. We felt that the potential benefits outweighed the risks and although we may have had difficulty getting hospital staff to perform this procedure, we were ready to do it ourselves. Only you can decide what is best for your baby.
Research has found that the skin micro flora of babies born via C-section reflects the kind of bacteria that is present in hospitals, and uniforms or staff rather than the bacteria normally found on the skin.
You can see in the image that the Lactobacillus is much lower for C-section than for vaginal delivery. Lactobacillus is the bacteria required to help us digest lactose in milk. This imbalance can be redressed in a number of ways but many people are unaware of the impact of C-section on the skin microbiome. Our reason for setting up this group is to help educate others. Research needs to be done sooner rather than later but until parents start talking about it with healthcare professionals there will be no research carried out. It is interesting to note that since C-sections have been possible and the numbers performed have increased, allergies, asthma and eczema have also increased.
Look out for my next post that will talk about some of the ways that you can work to redress the possible imbalance due to c-section delivery.
Out of interest how many of you or your babies were born via C-section?