Childbirth & Gut Health


My food journey has led me to one of the most enlightening and clarifying places I have been- gut health.  This point in my food journey has made a pivotal connection with my other passion in life…..childbirth.  Every birth witnessed is a moment honoured!  It is with great pleasure I choose to be “with women”……a midwife witnessing the miracle of birth and babies and the blossoming of mothers!

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When a baby is born they are exposed to the mother’s micro-flora which plays a big part in colonising that baby’s gut.  As a baby passes through the birth canal, “…bacteria are swallowed by the newborn, they travel through the stomach and colonise the upper and lower intestine, a complicated process that evolves rapidly” (Sloan, M. 2012). 

The bacteria that is in the mother’s gut, will be in her birth canal.  The mother’s (and father’s) gut health pre-conceptually and antenatally is a critical factor contributing to the correct colonisation of their baby’s gut at the time of birth.  Bacterial colonisation of the newborn gut at the time of birth plays a key role in the first steps of immune system development and the future health of that baby.   Isn't she clever...she knows what to do!

As a midwife of 14 years, no where in my career has anyone highlighted this simple scientific explanation.  The connection between childbirth and gut colonisation of the newborn, is a concept with ramifications that need to be bought to the surface; parallel with the importance of breast milk.  These are crucial factors contributing to the development of good gut health.

Life begins with the pre-conceptual period, pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.  What happens during this period is influential on the events that unfold along the continuum of life and health thereafter.  “It is of great importance to know that the initial bacterial colonisation of the neonate appears to play a crucial role in inducing immunity in the immature human being, and that a sub-optimal process could have definite consequences” (Langhendries.J.P 2005). 

I recognise and accept, that as a midwife I can play a pivotal role in helping women to achieve optimal gut health and birth experiences that will enhance the development of good gut health in their babies.   “A cesarean section doesn’t automatically condemn a child to a lifetime of asthma or eczema, just as a vaginal birth isn’t a guarantee of perfect health.  A woman who has the option of choosing her mode of delivery should add this to the many other factors she must weigh in deciding how her baby will be born” (Sloan, M. 2012).

Good gut health is the essence for our children and children are the key to our future. Being a midwife is a gift.   I honour the complexity of the miracles that we share in.   Wisdom, babies, family and most importantly….MOTHERS!