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Does My Baby Have Food Allergies Because of My C-section?

Getting the diagnosis of baby food allergies or intolerances can feel overwhelming. There are so many questions and unfortunately – so many unknowns. You can’t help but speculate about reasons why this happened – even though medical professionals can’t pin-point it.

Scientific evidence is lacking in understanding baby food allergies and intolerances. There’s some interesting data on delivery method playing a role in how they react to food.

There is evidence that babies born by C-section have a higher chance of health issues. But Free to Feed is here to help breastfeeding parents who have babies with food allergies or intolerances.

So today, we’re giving you the science on what we know about C-sections and baby food sensitivities. We’ll be going over three main topics including, the baby’s gut, immune system, and the parent's age at birth.

Weird Ways That C-Sections Can Change Your Baby’s Gut

It’s a little strange to think that how your baby comes into the world can change their gut– but it’s true. The two ways babies come out are very different.

During a natural birth, the baby’s traveling through the birth canal. Sharing more bodily fluids – we’re talking vaginal and fecal fluids here people.

You’d think the baby is at more risk of coming into contact with certain bacteria but this is good for them.

This “good” bacteria transfers to the newborn and travels to their gastrointestinal tract and stimulates their immune system. [1] Stimulating the immune system is a healthy normal reaction. This allows your newborn baby, now in the outside world, to build immunities and collect beneficial microbes for their tiny little bellies. This helps them with digestion and other intestinal processes.

Science shows that babies delivered by C-section have a delayed reaction in gut colonization compared to babies born naturally. Gut colonization means creating a healthy environment inside their little bellies so everything works properly. C-sections decrease the variety of bacteria that are necessary for proper gut development, which may cause food sensitivity. [2]

When you think about the different births, a C-section is in a much more sterile environment – since they mainly take place in an operating room. The baby doesn’t go down the birth canal and isn’t exposed to all the good bacteria when he or she is surgically removed.

A lot of women don’t plan on having C-sections, especially the first time around. But sometimes it’s necessary for the health of the baby or parent. And if you’re dealing with food allergies or intolerances now, it’s best to keep moving forward instead of getting stuck in the past.

Mama, don’t read this the wrong way. YOU are an amazing, life-giving, loving, nurturing, goddess – no matter how you gave birth. Don’t let anyone tell you differently!

There are ways to improve your baby’s gut health and one of those ways is breastfeeding. This is one reason Free to Feed is helping nursing families with babies who have food allergies. Read more from us about why our mission is important here.

Just like a baby’s belly is important for their digestion, their immune system is critical to their health. Let’s take a look at how the immune system changes in C-section babies.

How Your Baby’s Gut Plays an Important Role in Their Immune System

If you ended up needing a C-section now you know your baby has different bacteria in their gut. Their gut also plays a role in their immune system. The immune system is complex and helps our bodies fight off infections, viruses, and environmental hazards. Data shows that babies born by C-section have increased risks of certain health issues, related to the immune system.

Babies born by C-section have an increased risk of: [3]

  • Asthma

  • Immune Deficiencies

  • Leukemia

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease

One thought on why this occurs is that the baby experiences different stress levels with the different types of birth. Not only is the baby missing out on parent's good bacteria coming out naturally, but the stress levels of a C-section can affect the baby.

During a vaginal delivery, contractions and fetal responses cause an increase in cortisol which signals for the immune system to mature. [3]