Today my third child turns three.
He was delivered by caesarian section, and is shown here several minutes old in his wailing glory being ‘tagged’ by a paediatrician (how agricultural!).
I don’t harbour any regrets or bitterness about the fact that my 3 deliveries occurred in a surgery. Each case was different, and just turned out that way. But I do often wonder how much of an impact this mode of delivery had on the current and future health of my offspring.
Scientists are uncovering more and more evidence about the important role that our microbiome – bugs that live on our bodies, such as bacteria, viruses and even fungi – plays in maintaining our health. Our skin, our mouth, our intestines, our lungs and other systems all host a microbiome. The problem is that when babies are delivered directly from uterus to gloved hands of an obstetrician and then paediatrician, they miss out on receiving a healthy dose of microbiome from their mother’s gastrointestinal and reproductive tract. You know what I mean – being covered in all that gloop ‘down there’ following a natural delivery. It’s what’s supposed to happen.
Child number 3 has quite bad excema, and asthma on occasion. Could I blame a faulty skin and lung microbiome? In the middle of the night when I’m low on sleep and he’s itching like a child possessed, it’s tempting. In the gentler light of day, the more rational me does conclude that my genes probably also play a role. But it is easier to blame it on the bugs.