Birth Practices and Microbiomes in our babies


This past week I listened to a online keynote speech led by Penny Simkin during the Gold Midwifery Conference .

It is available here This the abstract from Penny Simkin that briefly explains microbiomes. This is the PDF from her keynote please read it: if is in the future taken down I do have it available.


 DSC_0395-3 “Abstract: The human microbiome consists of trillions of microbes – bacteria and viruses—the balance of which largely determines our health and well-being throughout life. The largest microbiomes in women are located in the mouth the gut, the uterus, the vagina, and the skin. Breastmilk also provides a vital microbiome for the infant. Each microbiome contains different mixes of microbes, which fluctuate as the environment, within and outside the body, fluctuates.Midwifery care practices have always fostered mother-baby contact, minimal separation, and breastfeeding. However, with increasing knowledge about the microbiome, midwives need to re-examine common practices for how they impact the microbiome, for example: the high cesarean rates, even among midwives, even brief separation from mother, frequent use of antibiotics, the impact of immersion in water on the mother’s skin microbiome and on the transfer of vaginal secretions to the baby in a water birth. Application of the new knowledge will further improve long-term outcomes.”

As I listened to her Keynote I found myself constantly nodding my head in agreement. This is going to be a huge change and one I feel very strongly about. I am the mother of 6 and half of my children were born at home. My last baby was a born at 33 weeks. His story is here

So much about his start to life was not natural and learning more about microbiomes validates why he was sick so much his first few years. He was in the NICU a few days but he never received anything but my breast milk and no bottles (unless they went behind my back ) He has SPD, borderline other issues. There is talk that the severe alteration of birth and microbiome at birth are causing such changes that is why we see so much cancer, Autism and much more.

There are SO many things about this subject that we do not know . Research is just beginning. But for a long time I have felt strongly with regard to my own births, skin to skin, no interventions. No suctioning at birth, no eye ointment or Vit K. No bathing. Not allowing others to hold my baby. Bringing my own blankets or towels to hospital .So much about my instinctual parenting ways I feel is due to this .

As a doula when I attend births I often refuse to hold their baby because I felt so strongly that baby needed to only be held by mom and dad. Now learning all of this i see why it is even as crucial as I instinctively felt!

I have much more to say on this subject . I will include a “Score card ” that Penny Simkin has made. I highly encourage you all to do your research (which I will include at the bottom links ) Do not be afraid to bring this up to your care provider, include it in your birth plans. It is YOUR BABY YOUR BIRTH.  The birth experience can very well as we know shape the future of your children. Even pregnancy and prior, eating organic foods as close to natural state as possible. Not using any chemicals in the home. Our water we drink and the water we bath in.

I am planning to locally host a viewing of

Microbirth” is a new 60 minute documentary investigating the latest scientific research about the microscopic events happening during childbirth. These events could have life-long consequences for the health of our children and potentially could even impact many.



Practices that Disrupt the Infant Microbiome

Penny Simkin, PT, CD(DONA)

Check the factors listed below that took place with baby ___________________ during the first 3 (or more days) of life.

If you wish, you may add the reason it was done.

“Microbiome-Friendly” Birth Events and Practices

(Check each)

 Spontaneous onset of labor at term

 Adequate labor progress

 Non-pharmacologic means of pain management

 Straight to mother’s body, skin-to-skin for unhurried holding and breastfeeding

 Parents’ blanket from home covering mother and baby. Non-parents see, don’t hold baby for first hours

 Nurses keep baby in mother’s/parents’ arms as much as possible for all procedures

 Baby fed only breastmilk.

 Baby remains with or near parents all the time.


“Microbiome-Disrupting” Birth Events and Practices

 Premature birth (weeks’ gestation)

 Birth by planned or unplanned cesarean (circle which)

 antibiotics to mother and/or baby (specify who received them)

 Held first by medical staffer before mother (specify who, how long)

 Time lapse after birth before mother held baby (how long? _____________)

 Wrapped in hospital blanket for first contact with mother

 Held by non-parents (family, friends, staff) in first hours after birth

 Early bath (before 24 hours of age)

 Fed with formula or glucose water Stayed in nursery without parent Conclusions –

did this baby have a “Microbiome-Friendly” or a “Microbiome-Disrupted birth


Research yourself:

Arrieta, MC, et al. 2014. The intestinal microbiome in early life: health and disease. Front Immunol.  Sep 5;5:427. ma Arthur, B. [NPR]. (2013, November 5).

The Invisible Universe of The Human Microbiome[Video file]. Retrieved from Azad MB, et al. 2013. Gut microbiota of healthy Canadian infants: profiles by mode of delivery and infant diet at 4 months. CMAJ. Mar 19;185(5):385‐94. Blaser, Martin J. 2014. Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues.   New York:

Henry Holt Books Brody, J. 2014. We Are Our Bacteria., Personal Health Section. July 14.‐are‐our‐bacteria/?_r=0 Brooks B, et al. 2014. Microbes in the neonatal intensive care unit resemble those found in the gut of premature infants. Microbiome.  Jan 28;2(1):1. e+those+found+in+the+gut+of+premature+infants Canadian Medical Association Journal. (2013, February 11).

Infant gut microbiota influenced by cesarean section and breastfeeding practices; may impact long‐term health. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from Dominguez‐Bello MG. 2014.

Restoring the Newborn Microbiota. Poster presentation American Society for Microbiology, Boston. (‐canal‐bacteria‐c‐section) Fouhy, F, Guinane, C. M, et al. 2012.

High‐throughput sequencing reveals the incomplete, short‐term recovery of infant gut microbiota following parenteral antibiotic treatment with ampicillin and gentamicin. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy, 56(11), 5811‐5820. Gardner, A. 2015. C‐Section May Disrupt ‘Good’ Bacteria in Babies. WebMD News from HealthDay. Feb 11.‐section‐formula‐may‐disrupt‐good‐gut‐bacteria‐in‐ babies Goldberg, C. 2014. Research: Could Birth‐Canal Bacteria Help C‐Section Babies? June 25.‐canal‐bacteria‐c‐sectionGrens, K. (2014). The maternal microbiome. The Scientist Magazine.  28(8), 46‐46.

http://www.the‐‐Maternal‐Microbiome/ Groer MW, et al. 2014.

Development of the preterm infant gut microbiome: a research priority. Microbiome.  Oct 13;2:38. Harman, T. (Director, Producer). Wakeford, A. (Director, Producer). (2014). Microbirth [motion picture]. United Kingdom: One World Birth. Johnson C, Versalovic J. 2012.

The human microbiome and its importance to pediatrics. J Pediatrics 129:950‐960. Johnson‐Cash, J., Reed, R. (2014). The Human Microbiome: considerations for pregnancy, birth and early mothering. Midwife Thinking. January 6, 2015.‐human‐ microbiome‐considerations‐for‐pregnancy‐birth‐and‐early‐mothering/ La Rosa PS, et al. 2014.

Patterned progression of bacterial populations in the premature infant gut. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Aug 26;111(34):12522‐7. +premature+LaRosa+Warner Mercola, JM.

The Importance of Reducing Your Toxic Burden When Planning to Start a Family December 27, 2014‐baby‐microbiome.aspx Munyaka, P. M., Khafipour, E., & Ghia, J. E. (2014). External influence of early childhood establishment of gut microbiota and subsequent health implications.

Frontiers in pediatrics, 2. Ohlsson, A., & Shah, V. S. (2014). Intrapartum antibiotics for known maternal Group B streptococcal colonization. The Cochrane Library. Pop, M. 2012. We are what we eat: how the diet of infants affects their gut microbiome.

Genome Biol. 2012;13(4):152. ects+their+gut+microbiome Proctor LM. 2013.

Newborn Gut Microbiome begins during birth. Reid, A., et al. 2013. Report: Human Microbiome FAQ. American Society for Microbiology. Stein R. Finally, A Map Of All The Microbes On Your Body. 2012. NPR Broadcast, Your Health, June 12, 2012 (retrieved Feb.2, 2015)‐a‐map‐ of‐all‐the‐microbes‐on‐your‐bodyYong E. Feb. 3, 2014.