Microbiome and Health
by Fernando Molina

[Editor’s note: This is an excerpt of an article which appears in Midwifery Today, Issue 120, Winter 2016. View other great articles and columns in the table of contents. To read the rest of this article, order your copy of Midwifery Today, Issue 120.]

To better guide our pregnant mommas during prenatal care, birth and breastfeeding, we first must understand how the microorganisms in our intestinal flora have much influence on our health, orchestrating our emotional and physical well-being and aiming to help us to prevent chronic diseases later in our lives. Yes, it sounds paradoxical, since historically, we have been taught to think of bacteria as disease-causing agents.

In general terms, all the microbes that live in our guts are very important for our health, but yet, under some conditions, some of them can cause severe disease. Interestingly, there has been a significant change in our understanding of what causes disease, mainly by taking into consideration the awesome research in epigenetics, microbiota, what we do, how we behave as we go through life, what we eat and what kind of microbes we have in our guts ever since our sacred moment of birth.

So what exactly is the microbiome? We could define it as the combined grouping of microorganisms that can be found throughout the body, including bacteria, fungi and viruses.

Of course we have to also take into consideration the effectiveness of our immune system, which takes us back to what happened in our guts when we were born, which type of bacteria first colonized the newborn’s gut, whether it was a natural or cesarean birth and whether the mother received antibiotics during pregnancy, before and after delivery. These are important questions every provider shall take into consideration when looking at what we can do to inform parents and maintain every baby is as healthy as possible in mind and body.

The bottom line: Our gut microbes are directly linked to our genetic material and connected to how we respond to our environment.

Fernando Molina is a family physician, male midwife and prenatal educator from Venezuela. He now lives in Eugene, Oregon, where he works as a Traditional Midwife with Eugene’s renowned midwife Anita Rojas, doing exclusively homebirths. He also teaches “Magical Beginnings,” a comprehensive prenatal course designed to embrace the soul, mind and body for a happy pregnancy and birth, where mom, dad and baby are the protagonists. This course is now updated and available online.

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