Why Probiotics are a Must Before, During, and Post Pregnancy

Having a strong and healthy gut is important for both mom and baby. If the mom has a poor diet high in processed foods, little fruits and vegetables, drinks coffee and/or carbonated beverages, has taken antibiotics, has high stress levels and is taking a low-quality prenatal vitamin, the immunity of the baby changes and will be affected for life. Each of these items alters the good bacteria inside our systems, which is passed down to the baby.

The double whammy to the above is when the baby is born via C-section. Babies born vaginally have a higher diversity of gut bacteria in their intestinal track verses those born via c-section. This bacteria lies within the vaginal canal and kick starts the baby’s immunity, which is crucial the life of the immunity. Because of this, babies born via c-section have a higher rate of:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Eczema/psoriasis
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Coli

Taking a high-cultured probiotic is a step in the right direction to support the immunity of both mom and baby. In fact, many studies have found adding probiotics to the mother’s supplement regimen before conception has even greater benefits for the baby. Studies show mothers who increase their probiotic intake during pregnancy can reduce their child's risk of allergies by as much as 50 percent and specifically in eczema, asthma and atopic dermatitis. Mom benefits by decreasing her risk of colds and respiratory infection.

Here are some other great reasons to take a high dose of probiotics during pregnancy:

  1. Probiotics reduce risk for preeclampsia
    Preeclampsia is the number one reason for maternal death in the United States. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology did an analysis of more than 33,000 women in Norway to find that women who ate 4.7 ounces of fermented milk products during the first half of their pregnancy had a reduced risk for developing preeclampsia. Probiotics help to reduce inflammation in the intestines, which is believed to lower blood pressure.
  2. Probiotic intake during the first trimester helps lose postpartum weight faster
    Research in the British Journal of Nutrition has found that women supplementing with probiotics that contain Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium during the first trimester and until they stopped breastfeeding (up to 6 months) were associated with less central obesity one year after giving birth. (Central obesity is defined as a body mass index of 30 or more).
  3. Probiotics helps digestion and nutrient absorption
    Probiotics help to break down proteins, carbs and fats and converts the fiber into healthy fatty acids that nourish the cells that lines the intestinal wall. This can help reduce gas, bloating, heartburn and constipation. When the intestines are sealed (aka leaky gut syndrome) the better our bodies absorb the nutrients from the foods we consume. The more nourishment moms get, the more the baby gets, too. Probiotics also help the intestines make short-chain fatty acids, which contribute to the overall health of the body.
  4. Probiotics can help reduce the risk for postpartum depression

    Medscape Medical News reported the connection between the gut and brain is very real. Preliminary research is finding the importance that taking probiotics can alter the neurotransmitters in the gut, boosting the ability to deal and cope with anxiety and depression.

While it is important to take probiotics during pregnancy, it is more important that both mom and baby take probiotics postpartum. When in doubt talk to a nutritionist that specializes in maternal and infant health and nutrition to find out what’s best for you and your baby.

    Additional Resources

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