Experts have warned mothers against the controversial trend of vaginal seeding or microbirthing for newborn babies.

Imperial College London’s senior lecturer, Aubrey Cunnington, said the practice sees the exposure of cesarean born babies to the same bacteria that vaginal born babies are exposed to in the birth canal.  

“Babies born by cesarean sections miss out on some of this natural goodness. Instead, they are mainly colonised by skin microbes, a very different set of species,”he said. “This difference in microbiota is said to be still measurable months and possibly even years after birth. This is where the idea of ‘vaginal seeding’ comes into play, to try and correct that balance and restore some of the good bacteria to the baby.”

Vaginal seeding or microbirthing involves taking a swab from the mother’s vagina and rubbing it over the baby’s mouth, face and skin after birth.  The practice aims to boost the gut bacteria of the newborn and reduce the risk of allergies or obesity.

Mr Cunnington has published a report in The British Medical Journal that says that while changing the composition of microbiota can prevent disease, the evidence does not yet show that vaginal seeding is beneficial.  He argues that it can in fact, lead to severe infections for newborns.

“Many countries (including the United Kingdom and Australia) do not screen all women for these pathogens in pregnancy, and with 20-30 per cent of pregnant women carrying group B streptococcus, vaginal seeding could result in many unintended neonatal exposures,” he said. “We have already needed to intervene to prevent vaginal seeding from a woman with genital herpes, and we expect trouble if the procedure gains wide popularity.”

As a result, the British Medical Journal has advised health professionals not to perform the practice, as the evidence of potential risks for the baby outweigh any health benefits that may be gained.

“Of course, this may change in the future if evidence emerges to show clear health benefits of vaginal seeding. But at the moment the jury remains out on whether vaginal seeding actually does more harm than good.”


Image source: Shutterstock

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  • Oh no, this sounds like a terrible trend. Let nature take its course and if the baby is born via c-section then let them be.


  • It sounds a bit gross. I think I’ll wait for some more scientific evidence before I make a final decision


  • Wow that sounds very scary for a new born


  • I had to read this find out what vaginal seeding actually was!


  • That is one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever heard! My second baby managed to escape the horrific (un-diseased, but still gross) experience of the birth canal and all its germy glory, why the hell would I want to SWAB those germs on his MOUTH!?!?!? ICK! I wouldn’t want a vaginal swab on my face, (and it’s MY vagina!!!), so why on earth would I expose my baby to it??? Seems like some people might have a few rocks loose! :O


  • I have never heard of this before today. It is not something that I personally would want to do.


  • i mean it is one thing for the baby to come out naturally and be exposed to all that stuff, but it’s another thing to swab the baby like that. i wouldn’t worry about it because just cuddling and breastfeeding your baby etc will share your skin’s “bacteria” anyway.


  • Ew, doesn’t sound very pleasant. Sounds a tad extreme to me. Glad I never had to decide whether to do it or not, both normal vaginal deliveries here


  • hmmmmm no i dont like the sound of this.


  • I’ve not heard of this before but i dont like the sound of it.


  • I never heard of this before. Sounds too risky for me.


  • It does sound quite risky.


  • Gosh, I didn’t even know there was such a thing – wowza!


  • I can see how the idea originated but you need to think carefully about the best thing to do.


  • I am due to give birth via c-section in just over a week and this was not suggested to me… not that I would have even considered it.


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