Chelsea Green Publishing

Your Baby's Microbiome

Pages:208 pages
Size: 5.5 x 8.5 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603586955
Pub. Date February 20, 2017

Your Baby's Microbiome

The Critical Role of Vaginal Birth and Breastfeeding for Lifelong Health

Health & Wellness

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
February 20, 2017


From the Directors of the Award-Winning Documentary Microbirth

At least two amazing events happen during childbirth.

There’s the obvious main event, which is the emergence of a new human into the world. But there’s another event taking place simultaneously, a crucial event that is not visible to the naked eye, an event that could determine the lifelong health of the baby. This is the seeding of the baby’s microbiome, the community of “good” bacteria that we carry with us throughout our lives.

The seeding of the microbiome, along with breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact, kick-starts the baby’s immune system and helps protect the infant from disease across a lifetime. Researchers are discovering, however, that interventions such as the use of synthetic oxytocin, antibiotics, C-sections, and formula feeding interfere with, or bypass completely, the microbial transfer from mother to baby. These bacteria are vital for human health, and science has linked an imbalance in the human microbiome with multiple chronic diseases.

Drawing on the extensive research they carried out for their documentary film Microbirth, authors Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford reveal a fascinating new view of birth and how microscopic happenings can have lifelong consequences, for ourselves, our children—and our species as a whole.


Publishers Weekly-

Filmmaker couple Harman and Wakeford, who made the documentary Microbirth, share important information about infant health and the microbiome that they’ve learned from the “A-team of experts” interviewed for their movie. Each chapter title takes the form of a question, such as “What is the Human Microbiome?” and “What Do Bacteria Have to Do with Birth?” The human microbiome, the authors explain in the introduction, consists of the trillions of microorganisms (mostly bacteria) that live on and in the body, and its most critical period of formation is around childbirth. Chapter one further addresses where these bacteria reside and what they do, as well as their relationship with antibiotics. Subsequent chapters reveal that during vaginal birth, the baby is exposed to many beneficial microbes, that formula lacks key microbe-related ingredients in breast milk, and that babies born via C-section are often not exposed to the mother’s vaginal or intestinal microbes. Harman and Wakeford also delve into epigenetics, bacteria’s role in the immune system, and options for mothers who can’t breastfeed or have vaginal deliveries. This is a no-frills, easily comprehensible book that conveys the essentials of Harman and Wakeford’s research into childbirth.

“You thought you were human. But you’re actually a multi-species ecosystem. We all cohabitate with bacteria, fungi, protists, and even microscopic animals, and scientists are discovering that the way we treat the microbial companions that live in us and on us has a lasting impact on our health. Exploring what we know about the role symbionts play in childbirth and the early days of a baby’s life, Your Baby’s Microbiome is a fascinating read for anyone interested in what it means to be human.”--Jennifer Margulis, PhD, award-winning journalist; author of Your Baby, Your Way; coauthor, with Paul Thomas, MD, of the bestselling The Vaccine-Friendly Plan

“For expectant families, this is the must-read book of this generation. As an advocate for parents, focusing on how the maternal environment changes the long-term health outcomes for the baby, this book is adding a critical piece to the puzzle of health for our children. The ‘seeding and feeding’ of a child’s microbiome could potentially be one of the most important lessons for parents. This timely information should be included as part of every childbirth education and newborn care class. Your Baby’s Microbiome will help parents truly make informed decisions about how and where they give birth and how they feed and care for their baby. It is a must for every woman giving birth."--Laurel Wilson, IBCLC, CLE, CLD, CCCE, coauthor of The Attachment Pregnancy

“A real life sci-fi with implications that touch each one of us and all future generations. My eyes opened wide at Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford’s documentary MicroBirth, and now their book invites you deeper into understanding the problem, the science, and the solutions calling us into action.

Your Baby’s Microbiome is essential reading for every expectant parent, grandparent, and anyone who works with or cares about childbirth, and the health and well-being of the next generations. It opens the door to what our intuition already knows—that disturbing nature’s well-orchestrated design in childbirth has short- and long-range health risks. You can make a difference and turn this potential health disaster around. Knowledge is power, and Toni and Alex have put the power into your hands.

“It’s time to listen to Mother Nature and question whether we’ve strayed too far from our instincts and nature. In an effort to improve maternity care, we have tipped the scales too far and need to find balance again. The stakes are too high to ignore the science, wisdom, and intuition that Your Baby’s Microbiome shows us. Nature has a plan and disturbing it with overuse of surgery should be done with the greatest caution. When Cesarean section is needed, it must include care to seed a baby’s microbiome.

“This book will give you the tools and insights to make sure you are prepared to provide a healthy microbiome in every situation to every baby. Written with great care and compassion, there is no need to feel guilty for what we have done in the past, but now that we know more, it’s time to change!

Your Baby’s Microbiome is a unique blend of text and film clips that takes you on a journey into the future of health, understanding that the day and way we are born does make a difference! You deserve to prepare to give birth to your baby with knowledge, power, and understanding of how birth choices and the care you receive matter on your baby’s short- and long-term health and well-being. I recommend Your Baby’s Microbiome to all who care about our future health.”--Debra Pascali-Bonaro, founder and president, Pain to Power; director of the award-winning documentary Orgasmic Birth: The Best-Kept Secret; cowriter of Orgasmic Birth: Your Guide to a Safe, Satisfying, and Pleasurable Birth Experience

“Only in recent years has the ‘microbiome’ of the baby come to the attention of the obstetric and birthing communities. I believe that midwives and birth activists have come to be much more aware of its importance than doctors themselves because to acknowledge the essential need for the baby’s body to be colonized with its mother’s microflora rather than that of strangers entails making all efforts possible to avoid Cesarean section and to facilitate normal vaginal birth, immediate skin-to-skin contact of mother and newborn, and breastfeeding. While obstetricians have certainly come in recent decades to understand the importance of breastfeeding, they continue to perform Cesareans on 32 percent of American birthing women and appear to be making no efforts to reduce that extremely high rate. I believe that if parents come to understand the findings presented in this excellent and informative book, they themselves will make greater efforts to achieve vaginal birth and to insist on the mother’s hands to be the first to touch the newborn in order to bring him or her straight to the breast—or, even better, to allow the baby the chance to inch its own way up the mother’s body, thereby empowering itself at the very beginning of life and colonizing with her microflora all the way. I hope this extremely useful and informative book will be widely distributed and widely read, and that its findings will change birthing practice in this country and around the world!”--Robbie Davis-Floyd PhD, senior research fellow, Department of Anthropology, University of Texas Austin; author of Birth as an American Rite of Passage; lead editor of Birth Models That Work

“Our expanding understanding of the roles of the microbiome and epigenetics in health and disease is profoundly changing maternity care and public health for the better. The conversational style and clear explanations in Your Baby’s Microbiome by some of the world’s leading scientists and maternity care providers make this new and complex information accessible and inspiring to the general public. We now know ways to support the role of healthy microbes in our bodies and in our environment to improve our lifelong health and well-being.”--Penny Simkin, author, doula, and birth educator

“Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford shine the brightest of spotlights on the importance of birth and early infancy. Your Baby’s Microbiome is compelling and informative—a must read for parents-to-be.”--Dr. Rodney Dietert, professor of immunotoxicology, Cornell University; author of The Human Superorganism

“How we give birth and feed our babies should be choices, not something for which we should have to fight for support. A huge ‘thank you’ to Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford for adding to a critical perspective on the individual and global impacts of some of those choices, in hopes that this conversation will keep going—pushing our maternity care systems to support physiological processes, as well as medicalized ones.”--Cristen Pascucci, founder, Birth Monopoly; cocreator, Exposing the Silence Project; vice president, Improving Birth (2012–2016)


Toni Harman

Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford are professional filmmakers who met at the London Film School more than twenty years ago. Since then, they’ve been making films together.

Over recent years, they have made four feature-length films that have been distributed internationally, including Credo (2008, released as The Devil’s Curse by Lionsgate in the United States), a psychological thriller; Doula! (2010); and Freedom for Birth (2012), a documentary about human rights in childbirth.

Their most recent film, Microbirth (2014)—about how birth impacts a baby’s lifelong health—won the Grand Prix Award at the Life Sciences Film Festival in Prague.


Alex Wakeford

Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford are professional filmmakers who met at the London Film School more than twenty years ago. Since then, they’ve been making films together.

Over recent years, they have made four feature-length films that have been distributed internationally, including Credo (2008, released as The Devil’s Curse by Lionsgate in the United States), a psychological thriller; Doula! (2010); and Freedom for Birth (2012), a documentary about human rights in childbirth.

Their most recent film, Microbirth (2014)—about how birth impacts a baby’s lifelong health—won the Grand Prix Award at the Life Sciences Film Festival in Prague.


MICROBIRTH - Official Trailer

The 60 minute award-winning documentary MICROBIRTH explores the origins of the microbiome, the trillions of bacteria that live on and in us that could be critical for human health.

LSFF 2014 interview: Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford

The LSFF 2014 Grand Prix with the financial prize of EUR 3000 goes to the British film Microbirth directed by Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford. The film outlines the world of microorganisms present in the human body that constitute its microbiome. During childbirth these bacteria colonise the body of the newborn baby and activate its immune system. The latest research shows that natural birth is necessary for the organism to be colonised by the “right” set of microorganisms and that interventions, such as inducing labour or Caesarean section, disrupt this process, which can have a negative effect for the whole development and health of the individual.

The Microbiome Effect - Introduction

The Microbiome Effect - Introduction


The Lost Language of Plants

The Lost Language of Plants

By Stephen Harrod Buhner

This could be the most important book you will read this year. Around the office at Chelsea Green it is referred to as the "pharmaceutical Silent Spring." Well-known author, teacher, lecturer, and herbalist Stephen Harrod Buhner has produced a book that is certain to generate controversy. It consists of three parts:

  1. A critique of technological medicine, and especially the dangers to the environment posed by pharmaceuticals and other synthetic substances that people use in connection with health care and personal body care.
  2. A new look at Gaia Theory, including an explanation that plants are the original chemistries of Gaia and those phytochemistries are the fundamental communications network for the Earth's ecosystems.
  3. Extensive documentation of how plants communicate their healing qualities to humans and other animals. Western culture has obliterated most people's capacity to perceive these messages, but this book also contains valuable information on how we can restore our faculties of perception.

The book will affect readers on rational and emotional planes. It is grounded in both a New Age spiritual sensibility and hard science. While some of the author's claims may strike traditional thinkers as outlandish, Buhner presents his arguments with such authority and documentation that the scientific underpinnings, however unconventional, are completely credible.

The overall impact is a powerful, eye-opening expos' of the threat that our allopathic Western medical system, in combination with our unquestioning faith in science and technology, poses to the primary life-support systems of the planet. At a time when we are preoccupied with the terrorist attacks and the possibility of biological warfare, perhaps it is time to listen to the planet. This book is essential reading for anyone concerned about the state of the environment, the state of health care, and our cultural sanity.

Available in: Paperback

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The Lost Language of Plants

Stephen Harrod Buhner

Paperback $19.95

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds

By Katrina Blair

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is the only book on foraging and edible weeds to focus on the thirteen weeds found all over the world, each of which represents a complete food source and extensive medical pharmacy and first-aid kit.  More than just a field guide to wild edibles, it is a global plan for human survival. 

When Katrina Blair was eleven she had a life-changing experience where wild plants spoke to her, beckoning her to become a champion of their cause. Since then she has spent months on end taking walkabouts in the wild, eating nothing but what she forages, and has become a wild-foods advocate, community activist, gardener, and chef, teaching and presenting internationally about foraging and the healthful lifestyle it promotes. 

Katrina Blair’s philosophy in The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is sobering, realistic, and ultimately optimistic. If we can open our eyes to see the wisdom found in these weeds right under our noses, instead of trying to eradicate an “invasive,” we will achieve true food security. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is about healing ourselves both in body and in spirit, in an age where technology, commodity agriculture, and processed foods dictate the terms of our intelligence. But if we can become familiar with these thirteen edible survival weeds found all over the world, we will never go hungry, and we will become closer to our own wild human instincts—all the while enjoying the freshest, wildest, and most nutritious food there is. For free!

The thirteen plants found growing in every region across the world are: dandelion, mallow, purslane, plantain, thistle, amaranth, dock, mustard, grass, chickweed, clover, lambsquarter, and knotweed.  These special plants contribute to the regeneration of the earth while supporting the survival of our human species; they grow everywhere where human civilization exists, from the hottest deserts to the Arctic Circle, following the path of human disturbance. Indeed, the more humans disturb the earth and put our food supply at risk, the more these thirteen plants proliferate. It’s a survival plan for the ages.

Including over one hundred unique recipes, Katrina Blair’s book teaches us how to prepare these wild plants from root to seed in soups, salads, slaws, crackers, pestos, seed breads, and seed butters; cereals, green powders, sauerkrauts, smoothies, and milks; first-aid concoctions such as tinctures, teas, salves, and soothers; self-care/beauty products including shampoo, mouthwash, toothpaste (and brush), face masks; and a lot more. Whether readers are based at home or traveling, this book aims to empower individuals to maintain a state of optimal health with minimal cost and effort.    

Available in: Paperback

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The Wild Wisdom of Weeds

Katrina Blair, Sandor Ellix Katz

Paperback $29.95

Nontoxic Housecleaning

Nontoxic Housecleaning

By Amy Kolb Noyes

When it comes to cleaning products, society often values convenience over personal and planetary health, thanks to decades of advertising propaganda from the chemical companies that market overpriced and dangerous concoctions. But awareness is changing: Not only are homemade and nontoxic cleaners strong enough for the toughest grunge, they are often as convenient as their commercial counterparts.

Nontoxic Housecleaning—the latest in the Chelsea Green Guide series—provides a way for people to improve their immediate environment every day. Pregnant women, parents of young children, pet owners, people with health concerns, and those who simply care about a healthy environment—and a sensible budget—can all benefit from the recipes and tips in this guide.

Included are tips for:

  • The basic ingredients: what they are, and why they work.
  • Specific techniques for each room and cleaning need in the house.
  • Detailed recipes for homemade cleaners, including floor polishes, all-purpose cleanser, disinfecting cleanser, window cleaner, oven cleaner, furniture polish, mold- and mildew-killing cleansers, bathroom scrub, deodorizers, stain removers, laundry boosters and starch, metal polishes, scouring powder, and more.

Available in: Paperback

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Nontoxic Housecleaning

Amy Kolb Noyes

Paperback $12.95

Herbal Formularies for Health Professionals, Volume 1

Herbal Formularies for Health Professionals, Volume 1

By Jill Stansbury

Herbal Formularies for Health Professionals is a five-volume set that serves as a comprehensive, practical reference manual for herbalists, physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals. Dr. Jill Stansbury draws on her decades of clinical experience and her extensive research to provide an unparalleled range of herbal formulas.

Organized by body system, each volume includes hundreds of formulas to treat common health conditions, as well as formulas that address specific energetic or symptomatic presentations, including Dr. Stansbury’s own formulas, formulas from herbal folklore, and formulas from Traditional Chinese Medicine. For each formula, Dr. Stansbury offers a brief explanation of how the selected herbs address the specific condition. The book offers many sidebars and user-friendly lists—helping readers quickly choose which herbs are best for specific presentations—and details traditional uses of both western herbs and traditional Asian herbs and formulas that are readily available in the United States.

Volume I focuses on digestive health and the emunctories, an herbal term referring to the organs of elimination: the gastrointestinal system, the urinary system, and the skin. This volume offers formulas and supporting information for treating gastrointestinal and biliary conditions, liver and gallbladder conditions, renal and urinary conditions, and dermatologic conditions.

Each volume in the set also includes:

  • a discussion of how herbal therapy fits into an overall treatment plan or approach for a particular health condition
  • modern research findings on individual herbs and their mode of action in the body
  • lists of herbs that might be beneficial for specific conditions
  • advice on botanicals to avoid for particular conditions

Each chapter includes a materia medica section listing 50 or more individual herbs with tips on their properties, modes of action, and very specific symptoms each plant best addresses.

These formularies are also a tutorial for budding herbalists on the sophisticated art of fine-tuning the precision of an herbal formula for the constitution and overall health condition of an individual patient, rather than a basic diagnosis. The text aims to teach via example, helping clinicians develop their own intuition and ability to create effective herbal formulas.

Volume II (Circulation and Respiration) will be available in July 2018. Volume III (Endocrinology) will be published in fall 2018; Volumes IV (Neurology, Pyschiatry, and Pain Management) and V (Immunology, Orthopedics, and Otolarnygology) will be published in spring 2019.

Available in: Hardcover

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Herbal Formularies for Health Professionals, Volume 1

Jill Stansbury

Hardcover $59.95