C-Sections, Babies and Bacteria

The other day, I listened to a fascinating podcast with Dr. Robynne Chutkan about our microbiome.

Dr. Chutkan describes the microbiome as, “all the bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live in or on your body”.

She says “our unique microbial footprint develops over [our] lifetime, and it reflects everything about [us]”, including our health history and lifestyle. A healthy microbiome means a decreased risk for disease, obesity, mental illness and other illnesses.

What tweaked my interest during the interview, however, was the discussion about c-sections. Studies have found that babies born by c-section have a different make-up of gut bacteria. This is because during the baby’s trip through the birth canal, they are exposed to all sorts of bacteria. C-section babies, of course, miss those bacteria, so their microbiomes are different than that of a baby born vaginally.

Reid baby 2

I had two c-sections. My first c-section was medically necessary. When I became pregnant with my second child, I was given a choice for the birth. I opted for a second c-section because I knew what a c-section felt like but I didn’t know what giving birth would feel like. And, frankly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.

Knowing what I know now, however, I might have made a different choice.


It’s not all bad for women who need c-sections, though. There are some “low-tech” solutions to help the baby get that important bacteria. And I take solace in the fact that much of ones microbiome is changed by diet, which I think our family does fairly well at.

If you have some time, I recommend you give the podcast a listen. I hope you find it as interesting as I did!





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