Birthing impact on mums breastmilk microbiota.

15 December 2022 

The breast milk microbiome :

For several decades, the general consensus among clinicians and researchers was that breast milk is an almost sterile fluid. However, recent scientific advancements have demonstrated that a wide range of culturable microbes resides within human milk.

The origin of bacteria present within human breast milk is not known; however, studies have shown that their presence is directly related to the perinatal period, which begins in the third trimester of pregnancy and continues after birth throughout the lactation period. 

Some of the proposed origins of the breast milk microbiota include colonization from the mother’s skin, the oral cavity of the infant during suckling, or the gastrointestinal system of the mother through the entero-mammary pathway.

Influences on breast milk microbiota :

There are several factors that can contribute to the composition of breast milk microbiota, some of which include genetic factors, whether the infant was born vaginally or through Cesarean section, maternal use of antibiotics, nutritional intake of the mother throughout pregnancy and during the postnatal period, time of day, lactation stage, as well as the geographical region where the mother and infant reside. 

Taken together, these factors can influence the microbiota of the mother’s skin, oral cavity, vagina, and gastrointestinal tract, as well as the microbiome of the infant.

The role of these factors has led many researchers to investigate potential approaches that could be used to modulate the composition of breast milk microbiota. For example, previous studies have indicated that a maternal diet high in fat can alter the composition of the neonatal microbiome. 

Thus, appropriate nutrition and lifestyle counseling for pregnant women has the potential to reduce the risk of certain diseases in their infants that may arise as a result of imbalances in the microbiome.

C-Section differences :

Interestingly, the mode of delivery has also been associated with differences in the microbiome of human breast milk. Notably, these differences in the breast milk microbiota are not believed to be due to the procedure itself, but instead a result of the absence of physiological stress and hormonal signaling that occurs during labor that may contribute to the transmission of certain microorganisms to the breast.

Pic : Sami Bloom - a Qiara mum and bub!

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