© The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Life Sciences Institute. Microbial colonization of the gastrointestinal tract is an essential process that modulates host physiology and immunity. Recently, researchers have begun to understand how and when these microorganisms colonize the gut and the earlylife factors that impact their natural ecological establishment. The vertical transmission of maternal microbes to the offspring is a critical factor for host immune and metabolic development. Increasing evidence also points to a role in the wiring of the gut-brain axis. This process may be altered by various factors such as mode of delivery, gestational age at birth, the use of antibiotics in early life, infant feeding, and hygiene practices. In fact, these early exposures that impact the intestinal microbiota have been associated with the development of diseases such as obesity, type 1 diabetes, asthma, allergies, and even neurodevelopmental disorders. The present review summarizes the impact of cesarean birth on the gut microbiome and the health status of the developing infant and discusses possible preventative and restorative strategies to compensate for early-life microbial perturbations.