Vaginal seeding

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Vaginal seeding, also known as microbirthing,[1] is a procedure whereby vaginal fluids (and hence vaginal microbes) are applied to a new-born child delivered by caesarean section. The purpose of the technique is to recreate the natural transfer of bacteria that the baby gets during a vaginal birth. It involves placing swabs in the mother’s vagina, and then wiping them into the baby’s face, mouth, eyes and skin.[2]


Infants conceived vaginally are exposed to heaps of gainful microorganisms knows as microbiota when they travel down the birth cana The baby is exposed to the mother’s vaginal microbes that wash over the child in the bath canal, which coves the skin, and enters the baby’s eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. These microbes often travel down into the gut after being swallowed. It is said that these microbes are important in the postnatal development of the immune system of the baby.[3]

In the event that a C-section is done before labour starts or before a woman’s water breaks, the infant won't come into contact with maternal vaginal fluid or bacteria. Instead, they come in contact with skin microbes, a very different set of species.[4] These differences, in turn, have been associated with increased risks of asthma, allergies, obesity, and immune deficiencies. Thus, these differences appear more often in infants after a caesarean delivery that after a vaginal delivery, according to certain epidemiological data.[5]

The purpose behind the practice of vaginal seeding or micro birthing is that it allows an infant delivered via caesarean section to come in contact with microbes from the birth canal. The expectation is that this may boost their gut bacteria and lessen the danger of health issues normally associated with caesarian infants. It contributes to the seeding of the infant gut.[6]


It is unclear whether vaginal seeding has long term benefit or whether it is safe. In 2016 a small study was published in the Journal Nature Medicine to look into the benefits of vaginal seeding. However, the study authors acknowledged that the consequences of vaginal seeding remain unclear due to limited data.

In 2017, a subsequent study was published which found that there wasn’t a big difference, after six weeks, between the microbes of infants born vaginally versus those who received vaginal seeding.[7] which further added to the confusion. Furthermore, certain scholars have pointed out that a baby's exposure to bacteria begins even before birth and more research is required on this matter.[8]


Infants delivered by C-section are really at lower danger of exchange of some conceivably harmful microbes and infections from the birth canal. However, with vaginal seeding, these harmful microorganisms and infections could be exchanged to the infant on a swab and potentially cause an infection.[9]

An editorial written in the British Medical Journal is advising practitioners and parents to not perform vaginal seeding as there is not enough evidence that it is beneficial for infants and could potentially put babies health at risk.[10]

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also does not encourage or recommend vaginal seeding due to lack of evidence.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Smith L. "Vaginal seeding: Doctors warn new mothers not to embrace dangerous 'microbirthing' trend". Independent UK. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Tommy's - What is vaginal seeding?". Tommy's. Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  3. ^ Neu J, Rushing J (June 2011). "Cesarean versus vaginal delivery: long-term infant outcomes and the hygiene hypothesis". Clinics in Perinatology. 38 (2): 321–31. doi:10.1016/j.clp.2011.03.008. PMC 3110651. PMID 21645799.
  4. ^ "What Is Vaginal Seeding?". IFLScience. Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  5. ^ Laubereau B, Filipiak-Pittroff B, von Berg A, Grübl A, Reinhardt D, Wichmann HE, Koletzko S (November 2004). "Caesarean section and gastrointestinal symptoms, atopic dermatitis, and sensitisation during the first year of life". Archives of Disease in Childhood. 89 (11): 993–7. doi:10.1136/adc.2003.043265. PMC 1719727. PMID 15499049.
  6. ^ Dominguez-Bello MG, De Jesus-Laboy KM, Shen N, Cox LM, Amir A, Gonzalez A, Bokulich NA, Song SJ, Hoashi M, Rivera-Vinas JI, Mendez K, Knight R, Clemente JC (March 2016). "Partial restoration of the microbiota of cesarean-born infants via vaginal microbial transfer". Nature Medicine. 22 (3): 250–3. doi:10.1038/nm.4039. PMC 5062956. PMID 26828196.
  7. ^ "Vaginal Seeding: What Is It And Why Is It So Controversial?". ELLE. 2018-04-18. Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  8. ^ "Why Vaginal Seeding May Be a Trend to Avoid". Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  9. ^ "What Is Vaginal Seeding?". IFLScience. Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  10. ^ Cunnington AJ, Sim K, Deierl A, Kroll JS, Brannigan E, Darby J (February 2016). ""Vaginal seeding" of infants born by caesarean section" (PDF). BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.). 352: i227. doi:10.1136/bmj.i227. PMID 26906151. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016. Lay summaryBellyBelly.
  11. ^ "Vaginal Seeding Not Recommended for Infants - ACOG". Retrieved 2018-10-27.