Microbiome and Health | Midwifery Today Article

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

Common Newborn Procedures

Procedures commonly done to your newbornI know that HypnoBirthing® primarily focuses on the birth of your baby. However, it’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the common procedures that a hospital will perform on your baby right after birth. Here are some common ones to expect:

  1. APGAR testing at 1 and 5 minutes after birth
    • This one is pretty non-interventionist, and you won’t even notice it’s going on. Your caregiver is measuring the responsiveness of your baby. APGAR stands for Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration.
  2. Measuring & weighing
  3. Vitamin K injection
  4. Eye treatment – erythromycin drops to prevent conjunctivitis caused by chlamydia & gonorrhea
  5. Hepatitis B vaccine injection – if you are Hepatitis B positive, you will pass this virus on to your baby through your breastmilk. Populations that are more susceptible to being Hepatitis B positive include prostitutes and IV drug users. If you don’t fall into this category, and have been tested and know for certain that you are Hepatitis B negative, you can delay this vaccination. The state of California requires that your child receive three doses of the Hepatitis B vaccine before attending a public school kindergarten.
  6. Heel prick blood test (testing for PKU and several congenital issues)
  7. Jaundice evaluation and treatment
    • Jaundice is common in babies born before 38 weeks of gestation, as well as with babies that are having difficulty with nursing. In the full-term baby, jaundice will commonly show up in the first 3-7 after birth as the bilirubin levels are peaking. Also, jaundice can show up in babies with underlying health issues that need to be treated.
    • How can you tell if your baby is suffering from jaundice?
      • The skin and whites of the eyes will be a yellowish tint
      • The baby will be lethargic and drowsy
      • The stool will be a pale yellow color
      • Their urine will be dark
    •  Nursing on demand every 2-3 hours or so after birth and making sure you have a good latch and excellent breastfeeding support will help immeasurably. For yourself, remember to hydrate well. Drink at least 12 glasses of water a day to support your milk supply. Also, sunlight can help clear away newborn jaundice. You can place a naked newborn inside next to a well-lit window for 10 minutes twice a day. Never place your newborn in direct sunlight. Babies that are extremely jaundiced will need to come to the hospital for treatment for phototherapy and additional support.
  8. Bathing
    • Since those first hours after birth are precious and so important for bonding with your baby, it’s ok to delay your baby’s first bath. The vernix on a newborn has antibacterial properties and doesn’t need to be washed off. You can spot clean your baby with a soft washcloth if you’d like — otherwise, keep the newborn attached to you at all times.
  9. Hearing test
  10. Circumcision

So, now that you know the common newborn procedures, do some research on them. Google them. Talk to your caregiver about them. Examine the benefits and risks of each procedure and decide if you think each one is appropriate and medically necessary for your child. Some of them have more risks than others. But it’s ultimately up to you to decide what is best for your child.

Here’s an article from verywellfamily.com about the most common newborn procedures.