Although it’s been discussed that cesarean births are much less traumatic for the babies than vaginal births, I tend to disagree. In fact, I think cesarean’s are possibly more traumatic, just in a different fashion.
During a vaginal delivery there is a tremendous amount of pressure placed on the baby, which makes sense because you’re basically squeezing something the size of a cantaloupe through a lemon sized hole. However, this pressure is essential, as it insures the baby’s lungs clear with their first breath. This would also explain why there is a huge increase in asthma and other respiratory disorders in c-section babies.
There are strong correlations from both Osteopathic and Chiropractic professions that the pressure and trauma from birth may be necessary and induces proper cranial motion. If this cranial motion doesn’t happen properly it can lead to increased incidents of:
- Colic due to the cranial nerve that innervates the GI
- Increased ear infections due to the Eustachian tubes not draining properly
- Decreased sucking reflex do to improper innervation of the muscles that suckle and lead to improper formation of the palate, and potential orthodontic interventions later in life.
The most dramatic life long effect of cesarean surgery on babies is the alteration of gut flora. Numerous studies show major differences between cesarean and vaginal fecal bacterial cultures found in babies’ intestines. This dysbiosis (imbalance of bacteria in your intestine) can last up to 6 months, but I would venture that this may lead to a lifetime of problems5. The potential problems this can lead to are:
- Gastrointestinal upset in adults or colic in babies
- Increased risk of infection. The gut flora act as a first line of defense for our Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue, which makes up about 80% of our immune system
- Increased risk of autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Type 1 Diabetes, and Inflammatory Bowl Disorders
- Increased risk of allergies and gut born infections later in life. This may be due in large part to the imbalance of gut bacteria that started at birth
Unfortunately, these imbalances from c-sections cannot be compensated for by breast-feeding after the birth6. If you had a cesarean, one solution to assist with the population of beneficial flora in your baby’s gut is the use of the supplement Therbiotic Infant, a probiotic put out by Klaire Labs. We have used this on both of our kids even though they were vaginal deliveries. These probiotics are beneficial for mother and will potentially help fight off infections. A student of mine also recommended an alternative of dusting the nipple, either mother’s or bottle’s with the probiotic before feedings, two to three times a day. If you notice your baby gets diarrhea with a greenish tint, then decrease the dose and frequency.
If you do end up having a c-section, get your baby screened by a properly trained Cranial-Sacral Specialist. These can include a properly trained Osteopath or Chiropractor, and in my experience, most issues will clear up in 3-4 visits.