16/09/2014 12:51 BST | Updated 16/11/2014 05:59 GMT

Microbirth: The Extra Question Every Expectant Mother Needs To Ask

An expectant mother attends an antenatal appointment to discuss her birth plan.

If it's in the UK, the expectant mother would probably see a community midwife. In the US, she might see her OBGYN. Together, mother and healthcare provider (doctor or midwife) would probably discuss the risks and benefits of home vs hospital, natural birth vs C-Section, unmedicated vs medicated pain relief options.

At the end of the discussion, the doctor/midwife asks, "do you have any other questions?"

The expectant mother pipes up. "Just the one. How will you help me seed and feed my baby's microbiome?"

"How will I help you seed and feed your baby's micro what?"

"My baby's mi-cro-bi-ome. How will I be helped to seed and feed my baby's microbiome? You see I've watched this film Microbirth and it says "seeding and feeding" could be really critical for the lifelong health of my baby."

The doctor or midwife looks at the expectant mother blankly. "I'm sorry. I have never heard of the microbiome. And I've never heard of Microbirth."

Now imagine that same doctor or midwife having that same conversation 10, 20, 100 times over. Now imagine if every expectant parent were to ask every healthcare provider (OBYGN, midwife, nurse or even hospital administrator) the same question: "How will you help me seed and feed my baby's microbiome?"

At some point, healthcare providers are probably going to get sick of hearing that question. Hopefully it might inspire them to do their own research so they can be all prepared to answer the question at their next antenatal clinic.

They might even watch our film Microbirth to hear Professors from Cornell, Yale, New York, Western Sydney and Alberta Universities plus Imperial College London suggest why the microscopic processes that happen during childbirth could be so critical for the development of the immune system. They might learn what is the single most important thing they can do to reduce the risk of a baby developing certain immune-related conditions like asthma, type 1 diabetes, coeliac disease and even obesity.

If we accept that birth has become a multi-billion dollar business around the world, then all expectant parents are consumers of that business. As consumers, all expectant parents have rights and they have a voice. Collectively, theirs is a very powerful voice that can be used as a catalyst to drive change. After all, it is perhaps a very unwise business that doesn't listen to its customers.

For change to happen, it might take decades for change to happen from the top down. But I believe change can happen much quicker from the bottom up. And it could start with all expectant mothers simply asking the one extra question.

I believe there is the potential to create a tipping point so that all mothers are helped to seed and feed their baby's microbiome, regardless of whether their babies are born by C-Section or by natural birth. This could go a long way to help ensure all children have the strongest possible immune system.

Isn't that what every healthcare provider and every expectant parent ultimately wants? For every child to have the best chance of the healthiest possible life? If you're an expectant mother, whatever type of birth you are planning, why not ask the one extra question...."How will you help me seed and feed my baby's microbiome?"


Image supplied by Toni Harman

Our 60 minute Microbirth documentary launches this Saturday 20 September 2014 with hundreds of premiere screenings happening all around the world.

From the launch date, the film will also be available to stream online as a video-on-demand on the website

Please join the conversation on twitter using the hashtags #seedandfeed #everybirthplan #microbirth