At least two amazing events happen during childbirth. There's the obvious main event, which is the emergence of a new human into the world. But then there's the non-human event that is taking place simultaneously, a crucial event that is not visible to the naked eye, an event that could determine the lifelong health of the baby. This is the seeding of the baby's microbiome, the community of ‘good’ bacteria that we carry with us throughout our lives. The seeding of the microbiome, along with other processes including breastfeeding, kickstarts the baby's immune system and helps to protect the infant from disease for its entire lifetime. However, interventions like use of synthetic oxytocin, antibiotics, C-section and formula feeding could be interfering with, or bypassing completely, the microbial transfer from the mother to baby. Emerging research shows that bacteria are absolutely vital for human health, and science has linked an imbalance in the human microbiome with multiple chronic non-transmissible diseases.
Drawing on the extensive research they carried out for their documentary film Microbirth, authors Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford reveal a fascinating new view of birth, and how microscopic happenings can have lifelong consequences, both for ourselves, our children – and our species as a whole.
Reviews Hide Reviews
A health empowering read.
The most straight forward biology class you will ever have! The book is full of scientific facts about human health yet so simple to read. Joy. It focuses on pregnancy and newborn but really it empowers the reader to take their health in their own hands, taking informed choices.
A fascinating insight into our bodies
I was really interested in this book, it held lots of brand new information to me about our bodies and how the bacteria in our bodies can affect us for life. This book focuses specifically on this in relation to the newborn, both during the birth process and during feeding. It is written by the filmmakers of 'Microbirth' to accompany the film and, having not seen the film, I found it very interesting to learn the findings of the studies so far. It contains QR codes after each section so that you can watch interviews and see more visual aspects, which was a great feature. The book, whilst complex in content was written in a way which was understandable for most people and not too scientific. I sometimes found it a bit samey and I felt that it could easily have been condensed into a good article, rather than stretching it into a whole book, hence the 4 stars. But a fascinating read and very thought-provoking in my career as a midwife.
An accessible account of the importance of our microbiome
This book contains a large amount of scientific information, and draws upon the work of key participants in the field. The book also contains QR codes and URLs linking the reader to additional video footage. All of this is presented in a very accessible way, so that the lay person (me!) can easily understand the science in question. The book discusses the bacteria that live on and in our bodies, and how we acquire our initial colonisation at birth. In particular the book focusses on the differences between babies born vaginally, who are "seeded" by the bacteria in their mother's vagina and perineum during birth, and babies born via Cesarean, who acquire that initial colonisation from the air of the operating theatre. The book discusses the long term implications of these differences and the possible things that we might like to do about it, such as artificially seeding the Cesarean baby with bacteria from the mother's vagina at birth. Since any birth could potentially involve Cesarean section, this is something that we should be discussing more with expectant mothers and their families, in order that their choices be better informed. I'm really glad to see how good this book is, and that it can help support this.