I had a caesarean birth and I never rubbed my baby's face, mouth, skin, and anus with my vaginal juices. The amazing thing is that my son is 15 and nobody's even noticed how lacking his birth experience was.
Vaginal seeding is not a brand-new concept, but it is making the news again after a small pilot study (and when I say 'small' I mean 18 children -- 11 born vaginally and seven born by caesarean section) was conducted at the University of Puerto Rico recently. The babies born by caesarean section were split up -- half of them received routine care (which I might have also described as 'normal') and half of them received vaginal seeding.
This seeding process involves inserting a piece of gauze into the mother's vagina an hour before the c-section takes place and then, after the baby is born, removing the gauze and rubbing it all over the baby (a job I hope I never have to perform).
The thinking behind this, er, juice bath is that it will supply the baby with all the good vaginal bacteria they are losing by not making their way through the birth canal.
While all this swabbing is right on trend, it hasn't been proven to be all that helpful. It's not recommended by professional medical societies and physicians aren't keen to carry it out. But medical facts have never stood in the way of making mothers feel that they have failed in some way. Cue scores of mothers asking their doctors to perform this routine when delivering via caesarean.
It's all part of the struggle many new parents face in trying to raise those kids 'right' -- because, quite frankly, the 'mummy wars' make you feel like whatever you are doing, you're wrong.
If you're a parent, you know this already. You've probably encountered it at playgroup, read about it in the media and second-guessed hundreds of your own (very good) choices already.
It seems that, far from becoming more accepting of each other's choices, we are coming up with new ways to compete -- whether it be through an unassisted outdoor birth or a placenta cake served at the baby naming or, you know, rubbing vaginal juices over our babies because we didn't have a vaginal delivery.
And it's not like this practice of comparing and criticising stops after the baby is born. The battles between breast feeders and bottle feeders, controlled crying advocates and attachment parents, dummy suckers and self soothers rage on... and they find a ready battlefield online.
We hungrily search for articles to validate what we're doing, we read blogs and websites and everybody seems to be following some technique or learned skill. We get frightened and confused and we forget to rely on ourselves as good and instinctive parents.
We try and parent like the books say or the bloggers do or the lecturers demand. We often don't tend to our children the way our hearts dictate for fear it hasn't been proven to develop and enhance our kids brains and prevent their futures from becoming frazzled.
Perhaps it's time to stop taking the concept of the virtual village to raise a kid so seriously. Maybe we should just be supporting mothers to do what they believe is right for their kids.
Even if it involves smearing their babies with vaginal juice.
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