Probiotics & Pregnancy

By Madhavi Gupta, M.D.

Why pregnant women should consider probiotics

With a growing body of research focused on the important role of probiotics and the critical gut-brain connection, you might be wondering about probiotics during pregnancy. There are many reasons to consider probiotics during this important lifestage since they have a vital role to play for both mom and baby, especially when it comes to nurturing a healthy gut.

 

Are probiotics safe during pregnancy and lactation?

Yes, probiotics are safe during pregnancy. Several trials conducted during the third trimester of pregnancy showed no increase in adverse fetal outcomes. Research also shows that probiotics are safe during lactation, however, your baby will need separate probiotics since they are unlikely to be transferred into breast milk (1).

 

“The NLM and NIH concluded there does not appear to be any risk of probiotic use for expecting, or lactating, mothers (2).”

 

The benefits of probiotics

The potential advantages of probiotics suggest that adding probiotics into your prenatal, pregnancy, and postpartum routines can support your nutritional goals. 

 

Probiotics support brain function

During pregnancy, the brain changes. Science has confirmed that many moms-to-be experience brain fog, slight memory issues, and more. But, not all is lost; by adding probiotics to other essentials, you can support your brain by having a healthy gut via the gut-brain connection. The gut, through its gut microbe system, influences the brain's function.

 

The gut-brain connection

Inside your gut is what scientists call your enteric nervous system - your second brain. Your intestinal microbiome is a collection of bacteria, yeasts, and viruses that live in your gut and do an enormous amount of work to keep you healthy. 

A growing body of evidence has shown two-way signaling between the gut and the brain. This includes multiple neuro and endocrine signal mechanisms. Changes to the gut microbiome affect brain health (3) supporting the importance of gut health during pregnancy.

 

Probiotics help postpartum mood

Probiotics are helpful even after your baby is born. Evidence suggests that probiotics support postpartum psychological wellness (4). The majority of serotonin, the  “feel-good neurotransmitter” is made in the gut. Any imbalance or disruption in the microbiome can influence mood dramatically. Studies have shown that prebiotics and probiotics affect the metabolism of serotonin in intestinal and brain tissues (5). This is why we include both prebiotics and probiotics in our Mama Bird Probiotics.

 

Probiotics promote better digestion and nutrient absorption

Probiotics can help balance intestinal flora to aid digestive health and nutrient absorption (6). Probiotics can encourage the growth of more beneficial bacteria in our gut, which can help our intestines move food along through our digestive system. 

Probiotics also aid in improving the breakdown of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and converting fiber into healthy fatty acids. Better digestion means better absorption of nutrients from food and supplements. If the mama is getting more nourishment, the baby is too. Better digestion and healthy regularity are especially welcome during pregnancy when constipation can be a common discomfort.

Probiotic-rich foods

With the significance of the gut-brain axis in brain health and performance, it’s a very good idea to consume 1- 2 servings of fermented foods daily. Fermented foods contain live bacteria or active cultures, which contribute a diverse array of microorganisms to the existing gut microbiota and thus have the potential to affect health (7).   

Some traditionally fermented options are:

  • Dairy with live, active cultures (e.g., yogurt, kefir)
  • Fermented vegetables (e.g., pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi)
  • Tempeh, miso, soy sauce
  • Kombucha tea


    Probiotics may reduce the risk of preeclampsia

    Preeclampsia is one of the major challenges in modern obstetrics. A Norwegian study (8) found that taking probiotics during pregnancy could lower a woman’s risk of preeclampsia. This was the conclusion after looking at outcomes from over 70,000 births. Researchers also found that probiotics help to reduce inflammation in the intestines, which is believed to lower blood pressure.

     

    Probiotics can help with gestational diabetes

    Another concern during pregnancy is gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs when the body becomes more resistant to insulin, making it harder to clear excess glucose out of the blood. The good news is that probiotic supplementation in women with gestational diabetes can significantly reduce insulin resistance. Probiotics can help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, thus contributing to overall health (9).

     

    Probiotics help build immunity for mama and baby

    In addition to a healthy diet during pregnancy, probiotic supplementation helps to ensure that mom has a healthy gut and that baby subsequently develops needed immunity through good bacteria formation that has been passed from mother to baby both in utero and breastfeeding (10). 


    Lowered risk of eczema and food allergies for baby

    A recent study of 19 clinical trials found that pregnant and lactating women who had taken probiotics found a lower risk of their children developing eczema and subsequent allergies (11). 

    “Studies have shown that certain probiotic strains, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus (HN001), taken during the last trimester and early breastfeeding, support the developing immune system (12).” 


    Probiotic supplements

    Supplementing your diet with probiotics for pregnancy can be an easy part of your prenatal routine. We offer Mama Bird Probiotics, crafted for pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum mothers to provide gut and brain support for you and your baby. Inside, each small capsule are 50 billion+ CFUs with the multi-strain benefits of 15 different probiotic strains, including Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LRa05), to promote a healthy immune system and lasting, natural energy. The convenient, vegan, once-daily formula also promotes healthy blood glucose levels during pregnancy.

    Prenatal vitamins with probiotics

    Probiotics can help ease nausea associated with pregnancy. Mama Bird Prenatal Multi+ is a once-daily prenatal multivitamin with probiotics. In addition, Mama Bird Prenatal Multi+ is crafted with organic herbs and a digestive enzyme blend to be gentle on the stomach and help ease nausea. It is designed to support healthy neuro-development, promote energy production, and improve memory and brain processing speed with active methylated vitamins for a healthy pregnancy.

    Mama Bird AM/PM Prenatal Multi+ provides a twice-daily prenatal vitamin with probiotics and extra choline. Choline plays an important role in attention and memory.

    Pregnancy is a wonderful and often overwhelming time of life. Knowing there are practical things you can do to support your own nutritional needs, as well as your baby’s, can bring peace of mind.

     


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