Probiotics Protect the Immune Systems of both Mom and Baby
With the many bodily changes occurring during pregnancy, the immune system has to work harder to keep one healthy. With the immune system protecting both mother and child, that is all the more reason to boost immunity! The microflora of the mother will be passed down to the baby- impacting the immunity of the child for life. Taking a probiotic supplement can support the immunity of both precious lives, and can influence the development of the baby’s immune system in positive ways at this vital time.
The importance of a baby’s exposure to a diverse and healthy microbiome is becoming more recognized as key to the development of strong immunity. There is much research showing that C-section babies are more immune compromised, due to missing out on exposure to the microbiome of the mother’s vaginal canal; these babies are at higher risk for allergies, asthma, eczema/psoriasis, diabetes, obesity, and colic. The good news is that many studies are finding that probiotic supplement by the mother before conception has even greater benefits for the baby (probiotics help to boost the immune system of the child in a preventative way, which is especially important should a C-section be deemed necessary). “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.”
Some findings also show the following benefits of probiotic supplementation received by the mother, which necessarily impact the baby: fewer colds and respiratory conditions during pregnancy.
What are some of the most common uses for probiotics during pregnancy?
Along with the immune boosting properties and other health-promoting effects of probiotics, they have been found helpful in regulating bowel movements. Many women find that probiotics help to increase their comfort and wellbeing when it comes to some of the symptoms that are often associated with pregnancy. “With constipation and diarrhea being two frequently experienced common discomforts during pregnancy, the use of probiotics during pregnancy is common. The Canadian Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada found 45 to 93% of midwives had prescribed some form of natural health products to expecting mothers.”
Preliminary assessments also suggest that probiotics can help reduce a woman’s risk for preeclampsia. This is thought to be because they help to reduce inflammation in the intestines, which is believed to play a role in lowering blood pressure. “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”
Why would I need a probiotic if I already take a prenatal vitamin?
Maybe in the future, we will start to see more products that combine vitamin supplements with probiotics. The facts are out: probiotics help our body to absorb and assimilate nutrients; they nourish the cells that line our intestinal wall. Without a healthy microbiome, we are unable to utilize vitamin supplements efficiently, and much of what we take in will be eliminated. Taking a probiotic supplement will help to strengthen your gut lining and increase the good bacteria in your gut- these bacteria play a vital role in digesting and assimilating vitamins/nutrients, and some even produce vitamins that are essential to your wellbeing! If you are taking a prenatal vitamin and aren’t taking a probiotic, you and your baby may be missing out on the important nutrients that you hope are being received. Not only will probiotics enhance your prenatal supplement utilization, but they will also help your body to better absorb the nutrients from all of the foods you are ingesting. To get the most for your money, and most importantly for your health, taking a probiotic with your prenatal supplement is a good idea.
Probiotics will help you lose postpartum weight
“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 given birth.”.
Probiotics promote mental well-being
You may have heard about the connection between the gut and the brain, and how our microbiome in our guts impacts our mood. One of the main thoughts behind why probiotics are beneficial is because they play a strong role in decreasing inflammation, which is linked to nearly all brain dysfunctions. A healthy microbiome means that the gut lining remains intact, and pathogens and other harmful molecules are unable to make it into the bloodstream (which would cause our body to have an inflammatory immune response). As stated above, probiotics are essential for the absorption/digestion of nutrients- and proper nutrients are essential for a healthy mental state.
Here is some more exciting news regarding probiotics and mental health: “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.”
So probiotics have all of these benefits, but are they safe during pregnancy?
The American Pregnancy Organization deems that probiotics are more than likely safe. “In the limited research on probiotic use during pregnancy, there have been no associations with probiotic use and miscarriages or malformations of any kind. Furthermore, a meta-analysis by Canadian researchers found no association with probiotic use and the incidence of Caesarean section, birth weight or gestational age. The NLM and NIH concluded there does not appear to be any risk of probiotic use for expecting or lactating mothers.” (http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/probiotics-during-pregnancy/).
Benefits of Probiotics During Pregnancy – Women’s Health Foundation. (2014). Retrieved June 20, 2016, from http://womenshealthfoundation.org/2014/09/25/benefits-probiotics-pregnancy/
Probiotics During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know. (2015). Retrieved June 20, 2016, from http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/probiotics-during-pregnancy/
Why probiotics are a must during pregnancy and beyond. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2016, from http://www.chicagoparent.com/community/healthy-jasmine/2014/probiotics
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