For quite some time we have all understood and accepted that pregnant women should neither smoke cigarettes nor drink alcohol and I don’t think that we need to go into detail to explain why as it is so well established.
Pregnant women are also advised about their diet during pregnancy, which is a good thing. Because they are, ‘eating for two’ in quality and nutrition. This food coaching is based entirely upon the nutrition requirements of mother and developing embryo. However, there is a further aspect that is completely overlooked and it every bit as important. At long last, it is being accepted that the neo-nate (the newly born baby) acquires its gut flora during the process of birth, with its journey down the vaginal birth canal and out of the vulva, with its proximity so close to the anus – this is not a positional design error on behalf of Mother Nature – rather it is placed just where it for the very reason of innoculation of the newborn by the mother’s fecal flora, albeit invisible to the naked eye.
So it stand to reason that the mother must have a complete diverse vaginal microbiome as well as a healthy and complete gut flora or fecal microbiome. Where else would the baby get its first foundations in bowel flora if not during the birth process itself?
This raises questions about births by elective Caesarian delivery; Christine Edwards, Professor of Nutritional Medicine at the University of Glasgow acknowledges that birth by C-Section is a risk factor for immune diseases and allergies in children.
So is time now for our midwives to be explaining not just the physiology of birth, which they do well, but the micro-biology of the birth process, explaining the importance of fresh, natural foods that our gut flora naturally recognise and thrive on. This is in order to ensure that their newborn baby not only arrives without the impairment of alcohol and tobacco, but begins their life with a broadly diverse fecal flora capable of educating their very immature immune systems how to correctly respond to external stimuli.
It may even time to ask if we should screen pregnant mothers to ensure that they actually have a complete and healthy microbiome themselves? This would be easily done with a simple stool test. Any mother with a deficient or pathogenic gut flora profile, would be able rectify the situation before delivery and ensure that they give their baby the best gift possible.
It is also a good time to remember that human breast milk contains Oligosaccharides (GOS), which the baby cannot digest but is designed to feed and nurture the gut flora and help it to establish. Nature would not invest resources in substances which had no survival value, so the gut flora must be hugely important to Nature, so we should make it important to us as well.