Not without risk
Rubbing vaginal bacteria onto your newborn baby is not without controversy, however. In February 2016, British doctors expressed their scepticism regarding the procedure in the British Medical Journal. They warned that in this way, harmful or even life-threatening pathogens may be transferred to the baby, such as herpes, chlamydia and streptococci. This type of transfer can occur during a natural birth as well, but in case of vaginal seeding it is the doctors who are responsible for the consequences. No one wants a doctor to infect their baby with a disease.
In addition, it is not yet known whether rubbing the bacteria onto your baby has the same effect on the child’s gut bacteria as a ‘real’ vaginal birth. In a recent, small-scale study, investigators realized a gut microbiome through vaginal seeding which approached that of a child born via the birth canal.
The question is, though, whether the microbiome resulting from vaginal seeding does actually lead to relevant health gains. Moreover, if part of the vaginal microbiome is transferred by hand, the likelihood of an infection is greater than during a vaginal birth, because the pathogen faces less competition from other, neutral or beneficial microbes. In summary, too little is known about the benefits of vaginal seeding in the long term for doctors to take this risk.