While C-sections are necessary due to medical reasons, the latest research shows that children born by C-section may not get the probiotics or protective bacteria like children born naturally.
That is why we are here with expert advice on how to provide your baby with better protection. Dr. Ang Huai Yan is a gynaecologist and obstetrician expert at Gleneagles Hospital. Her special interests include maternal foetal medicine and laparoscopic surgery for gynaecological conditions. She is very warmly favoured by many parents-to-be.
Dr. Ang has taken the time out to answer your questions regarding C-sections.
Question from a new Mum: I recently gave birth to my child via a C-section. I hear the recovery time after a C-section is longer than after a natural birth. Is this true? I would also like to know what the risks are for both my baby and I. Why will my baby get less nutrients, probiotics or protective bacteria? Will the surgery have an impact on breastfeeding?
It normally takes about a month for a Caesarean wound to heal completely. I usually advise my patients to resume normal sports activity only after three months as the abdominal muscles may have torn during the pregnancy and operation. This can cause pain during strenuous activity.
A diet rich in proteins and Vitamins especially Vitamin C is advised in the post-operative period.
The risks of C-sections to the mother are that of bleeding, which in rare circumstances can result in massive bleeding that may endanger the mother’s life or necessitate the removal of the uterus to stop bleeding. The other risks is that of infection of the wound resulting in delayed healing and a longer recovery period.
In women with repeated C-sections there may be injuries to the bladder or intestines during the separation of adhesions.
As mentioned earlier, women with repeat caesarean sections may have their placenta growing into the scar tissue resulting in what we call the placenta accreta, and this can cause uncontrolled bleeding which may require removal of the uterus in order to save the mother.
As for the baby there are studies indicating that babies born via a C-section have a higher chance of getting allergies compared to natural birth babies. This may be due to the fact that natural birth babies would have acquired the good protective bacteria as they descend through the birth canal. A baby delivered by C-section does not acquire the good protective bacteria and this delays the growth of good protective bacteria, affecting the maturation of the immune system. This results in a higher incidence of infection for the baby as well as allergies.
Build up natural resistance
To combat this, breast-feeding is strongly encouraged for the first six months and as long as possible. Breast milk contains antibodies and is rich in good bifidus bacteria (known as probiotics). This helps to quickly establish a healthy intestinal flora for your baby and helps support the maturation of the immune system. Babies who are not or cannot be breastfed after six months may consider a follow-on formula containing probiotics. Proven probiotics like bifidus are well documented to reduce incidences of diarrhoea and respiratory illnesses in babies.
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