The Vaginal Gulp
BY Helen R. Rodriguez
While preparing to birth our babies most of us imagine a wealth of goodness that we desire to pass to our children. While envisioning the births of my own children like many expectant mothers I intended a peaceful, non-violent passage and worked to create a natural, loving atmosphere. The focus was on the psychological, spiritual, and physical health I could offer my baby by birthing naturally. Little did I know that there was another gift that we mothers give to our babies at birth, a gift that will greatly determine the quality of the physical and mental health of our baby, a gift that I could have been better prepared to give had I only known. This gift is the gift of immunity, of a high functioning brain, of a healthy functioning digestive and detoxification system. These arise through a healthy gut culture.
This gift is given even before the first swallow of mother’s milk, it cannot be replaced by mother’s milk, or by a natural birth, it is important in and of itself. It is known as the “vaginal gulp” and in my professional and personal knowing it is an extremely important part of birthing that we would definitely want to prepare for as expectant parents. When baby passes through mother’s birth canal it is coated by the microbes and bacteria in the vaginal secretions that are then ingested through baby’s skin. This gift is the beginning of baby’s intestinal population of microbes and bacteria. If mother has a healthy, beneficial bacteria population then baby will have a healthy bacteria population and thus strong immunity and the strong physical and brain health that come with this. If mother’s bacteria are unhealthy (pathological) then baby will have a compensated, weakened system.
Colic, inability to tolerate mother’s milk or nurse properly, skin issues, sleep issues, respiratory problems, learning and behavioral issues, and autism are only a few examples of early symptoms of an unhealthy bacteria and probiotic population in the gut. Right now what we know is that for every one cell that we can call “us” there are ten bacterial cells that we are hosting. Thus, the name of the game is to insure that we are living in harmony with the bacteria that we are hosting, to make sure that it is beneficial and healthy to us rather than pathological or harmful. Beneficial bacteria support physical and mental health; they support the fullness and wholesomeness of human expression. Pathological bacteria support disease, disorder and decay. Sometimes, through my seasoned healer’s eye, I look at the photos of the young people who are in the news for having committed heinous crimes or I watch unhappy and ill functioning children in the supermarket. What I usually see are all the signs and symptoms of a person whose brain deeply compensated due to an unhealthy gut.
In case this all sounds a bit far fetched to you, let me share my direct experiences. In my professional life I spend my days working with people who suffer from everything from a tricky tummy or a Candida overgrowth on through to autism, autoimmune disease, cancer, depression, anxiety, and so on. I have thus far never worked with a child with autism, behavioral issues or ADD/ADHD who did not have a parent with a compromised bacteria situation themselves, albeit to a lesser extreme than the symptoms present in their child–symptoms tend to worsen with each generation. In the vast number of these cases the key to cure, or if cure is not possible then to an increased betterment of quality of life, is through healing and rebuilding the bacteria population in the gut. I have seen this miracle of cure by addressing the gut time after time. For some they were born with things never being quite right, for others it was a slow downward spiral that involved probably not the best quality vaginal gulp at birth then some combination of poor foods, antibiotics, vaccines, and so on. It is critical to health that a strong and healthy probiotic population be created and then maintained within us so that healthy microbes bacteria are fed and maintained. How much we could spare our children by starting them out with the strongest system possible!
Father is important in this process too; during sexual intercourse he is inoculating the vagina with his microbial population. If this is healthy he is helping baby, if it is unhealthy then it will not create health in mother or baby. For either parent, common signs that the gut bacteria population is unhealthy include: candida or other yeast infections, parasites, allergies, asthma, any type of digestive issue, food intolerances (other than the very rare true anaphylactic reaction), skin outbreaks, regular sugar and/or “junk food” consumption and cravings, mental symptoms such as attention deficit/hyperactivity, sometimes depression, autoimmune symptoms, and diabetes. Antibiotics, a too high fiber grain diet, prescription drugs of any sort, birth control pills, chronic overeating or fasting, stress, bottle feeding, processed foods, a lack of fermented foods (yoghurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, etc) will all damage gut flora. Since a truly healthy bacteria/probiotic population is rare in these times, unless a person has been on a deeply focused and proven protocol to create it, I suggest that parents-to-be take the safer route of assuming that things could be improved, thus doing the utmost to assure that baby’s vaginal gulp will be of the very best quality possible. Good probiotics feed and build healthy bacteria.
As soon as possible, even at the first idea that you might want to create a child, begin to work to create your healthy gut population. Add as many probiotic rich foods to your diet as possible. Take a supplement as well–I give my strongest recommendation that you use either BioKult or the soil based Prescript Assist (both available at http://gapsdiet.com/Online_Store.html) for at least a 6–9 month course to help rebuild the gut. Learn about and begin eating foods that will build a healthy bacteria balance. Two good sources for learning more about foods you might include in your diet are Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride and The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates. For the love of your baby, if not yourself, stop eating processed foods, too many sugars, etc. Not only will you help yourself now, and your baby at birth, but you will also be setting the stage for good parenting later as you will be ready to teach healthy eating habits by example as your child grows. Children imitate what we do, not what we say–expecting them to drink the carrot juice while we have the sugary coffee drink is not a viable teaching method! Even the best of vaginal gulps must be maintained by good habits.
In addition, it is important to prepare the birth canal for labor and delivery. Daily, and as soon as possible, again even before conception, apply the best quality yoghurt or kefir possible over your groin and yoni after bathing. You can open a capsule of BioKult or Prescript Assist and mix ½ of this in to enhance the quality of the probiotics. Let this mixture dry and absorb, you can leave it on overnight or rinse off after thoroughly absorbed. Should you desire the mixture can be applied to the entire body, this method is used in many traditional societies to create beautiful skin and prevent stretch marks as well as helping to create health. If you have vaginal yeast, or if you suffer from any sort of symptoms that lead you to believe that your healthy bacteria population is depleted then each night inset 1 capsule of your probiotic vaginally and leave it there to dissolve and inoculate the birth canal. Before intercourse father should follow the same protocol of applying yoghurt or kefir with a good probiotic mixed in to penis and surrounding groin area, allowing time for it to absorb. If mother feels that this is acceptable then a capsule of probiotic can also be inserted into the birth canal during the very early stages of labor.
This same procedure of applying probiotic enhanced yoghurt or kefir can also be used after birth by applying the mixture to the breast/nipple area. Make sure that it is thoroughly wiped off before feeding baby. This will inoculate mother’s skin and allow baby to absorb healthy probiotics through mouth contact with the nipple area as well as skin-to-skin contact with the breast.
Babies who are birthed by cesarean section will develop a gut flora that is completely different from babies who are able to have a vaginal gulp. Without intercession this puts them at real risk for lifetime health issues. Sometimes, however, cesarean birth is unavoidable. Be positive and do not despair, it is still possible to give baby the benefits of the vaginal gulp. As soon as possible–within hours after birth if you can–repeatedly wipe mother’s birth passage with soft cloth pads or Q-Tip like swabs. Rub this all over baby’s body, every single inch of it, including eyelids, just inside nostrils, mouth outside & slightly inside, ears, genital, and rectal areas. Do not worry if it seems that nothing is coming out of the birth canal, it is.
Chlorine is a true enemy of healthy bacteria. It will kill them as surely as it will kill pathological bacteria. Please avoid it by putting chlorine filters on your sinks and bath/shower outlets. Do not drink chlorinated water. Birthing in water that is chlorinated will swiftly kill the benefits of the vaginal gulp as well as mother’s ability to give a good gulp, many say to a very significant degree.
If you are reading this with a sinking heart, having already birthed your child and realizing that perhaps the vaginal gulp was not what it could have been, please do not despair. There are answers. As a GAPS Practitioner (Guts & Psychology/Physiology Syndrome) I consistently witness the miracle of the regenerative abilities of the human body. Give your child a highest quality probiotic supplement, follow the gut building diet suggestions mentioned earlier. If needed consult with a professional who is skillful in rebuilding healthy gut/microbe/bacteria populations, such as a GAPS Practitioner, to create an individualized program for your child or yourself.