When I first found out I was pregnant, I immediately cut out all the supplements I was taking. Basically everything says to consult with a doctor if you are pregnant, so I thought I was being safe. I’m sure it’s all just cover-our-butts language. One of the pills I eliminated was my daily probiotic. And if you haven’t figured this out from my past posts… I’ve had some digestive trouble throughout pregnancy. And lately I’ve learned that probiotics can be extremely beneficial during pregnancy, both for mom and baby. Sigh… if only I’d known then! I’ve re-introduced the probiotics to my diet this past week and I’m already seeing some positive benefits.
Today’s post is a guest post from Dr. Shekhar Challa. Dr. Challa is a board certified Gastroenterologist, Co-producer of probiotic video game Microwarriors: The Battle Within, and author of the new book Probiotics For Dummies. Visit his website at: www.drchalla.com.
Most pregnant women experience food cravings. In addition to these dietary changes, a pregnant woman undergoes alternations in her digestive system. Women may experience heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, nausea and vomiting. A lot of this may be due to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. By taking probiotics (good bacteria) during pregnancy, Mom can feel the benefits of a healthier digestive system as her good bacteria are replenished.
How else do Mom and baby benefit from probiotics during pregnancy? Here are a few facts:
- As much as 18 percent less likely to give birth prematurely.
- Able to drop the pregnancy weight faster.
- At a lower risk of developing central obesity (belly fat) — if excess belly fat is retained after birth, Mom is at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
- At a 20 percent lower risk of developing gestational diabetes and diabetes after birth.
Baby also reaps health benefits if Mom takes probiotics while she’s pregnant.
- At a 50 percent reduced risk of developing eczema.
- Not as likely to develop asthma, childhood obesity or diabetes.
- At a lower risk of developing a condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (where intestinal tissue begins to die).
The risk of developing diseases due to central obesity from pregnancy weight is higher for women who do not take probiotics. While the role of probiotics in weight management is still vague, researchers have found a correlation between the gut flora (types of bacteria found in your gut) and the subsequent weight of a person, whether they are lean or overweight.
A study done in Finland followed 256 pregnant women, beginning in the first trimester through the first year after birth. Researchers found that only 25 percent of women who took probiotics had belly fat, and the group taking probiotics actually had lost the highest amount of body fat since their first trimester. In comparison, 43 percent of women who took a placebo had central fat at the end of the first year.
Happy, Healthy Baby
We’ve all heard, “I want to pinch those chubby cheeks!” While we all love those sweet cheeks, babies who weigh 8 pounds, 13 ounces or more at birth are at a higher risk of being overweight.
Newborns are also at risk of colic — severe pain in the abdomen that causes babies to cry more than three hours a day at least three times a week. Recent studies show the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri (found in breast milk) helps reduce crying spells, inflammation and amounts of bad bacteria.
When deciding between naturally breast-fed and using baby formula, mothers don’t always have a choice. Prebiotic-enriched baby formula contains similar gut bacteria to that found in breast-milk-fed infants. Nowadays you can find baby formulas that contain prebiotics, probiotics or a combination of the two (known as synbiotics).
**Please Note: Always consult your physician before adding a supplement — including probiotics — to your diet.
Choosing a probiotic can be difficult with so many options. I recommend the gourmet probiotic Probulin. Use promo code “Challa” on your order to receive 25 percent off at http://www.probulin.com/.
Jill’s Note: I’ve never used the probiotic Dr. Challa recommends, thus I am neutral on it with no recommendations in regard to that brand.