Click here to read: Microbiome and Health | Midwifery Today

The above article appeared in Midwifery Today, Issue 120, Winter 2016. I love the topic: gut flora! This article addresses the microbiome, that fascinating slurry of bacteria, viruses and fungi that live in our bodies. We are just at the tip of the iceberg for discovering how this microbiome dramatically affects the health of all of us, but this article begins by delving into the microbiome of our babies.

Here are some of the major takeaways from this article:

  1. The placenta has its own microbiome that comes from a mother’s oral bacteria. Wow!
  2.  The baby’s gut is first colonized with bacteria when it passes through the birth path, skin-to-skin contact after birth, and bacteria from the home, hospital or birthing center.
  3. Towards the end of pregnancy, the microbiome in a mother’s birth path starts to change, with increasing colonies of Lactobacillus (a great probiotic).
  4. Breast milk is rich and dense in probiotics (it’s dense in prebiotics too, by the way).
  5. Research shows that “a disruption of our microbiome will strongly influence whether we will experience different diseases such as asthma, allergies, ADHD, personality disorders and chronic autoimmune diseases.”
  6. High cesarean rates and the use of antibiotics in mothers and newborns are changing babies’ microbiomes.
  7. Breastfeeding is essential for populating a baby’s gut with beneficial bacteria.

How to Best Support Your Baby’s Microbiome:

  1. Try to avoid antibiotics in pregnancy and while breastfeeding
  2. Eat foods that support your own gut flora
  3. Do your very best to avoid a cesarean birth if at all possible
  4. Breastfeed your baby

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