Probiotics during Pregnancy: Benefits for Optimal Health

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Are you wondering if you can use probiotics during pregnancy? Which are the best probiotics to use during pregnancy? Taking probiotics while pregnant is just one of the many things you can do to have a healthy pregnancy and grow a healthy baby.

For most women, pregnancy is the most apt time to redo your nutritional habits and stick to a healthier diet plan. That’s because whatever you consume as a mom-to-be directly impacts your and your baby’s health.

By healthy diet plan, we mean including more of the best foods for pregnancy in your meals, from fruits and vegetables to our old-but-newly-discovered friends – the probiotics!

That’s right! Consuming probiotics during pregnancy has its pros on your health, such as increasing your nutritional intake, reducing potential health issues (like urinary tract infections), and improving your baby’s development.

With this guide, you’ll know the benefits of this natural health supplement during pregnancy. You’ll also learn about the best probiotics for UTIs – the most common health problem expecting moms have to deal with.

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The advice included in this article is meant for informational purposes only. Please consult your care provider before making any decisions regarding your pregnancy.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics refer to live microorganisms that promote human health when consumed. The principle here is to encourage the growth of a friendly microbiome within the gut, the urinary tract, and other organs, thereby indirectly (but naturally) decreasing the count of pathogens.

As the harmful microbiota decreases, you automatically prevent recurring and ongoing infections with little to no side effects.

According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), probiotics are defined as:

“Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.”

The concept of using probiotics isn’t new – you have been consuming probiotics in yogurt and pickles all along. It’s just that the word “probiotics” gained traction lately when health experts started advocating for probiotics intake as a standalone health supplement.

Are Probiotics Safe to Consume During Pregnancy?

You may rightly get worried about the safety of probiotics if you’ve never tried them before. The good news is that probiotics are generally considered safe for you and your baby.

First things first – probiotics are not medicines and do not treat any disease. Instead, probiotics aim at preventing health ailments by promoting the natural, healthy microbiota within us.

Simply put, probiotics encourage the growth of the natural gut microbiome, reducing the pathogenic count that may increase (or have increased) due to a specific health condition or medicinal reaction.

Besides, researchers have shown that probiotics do not induce systemic infections and are not transferred via breast milk. So, you need not worry about exposing your baby to unwarranted microbes.

Of course, since probiotics do not directly meddle with your body functions (unlike antibiotics or synthetic health supplements), they confer no adverse side effects. That means consuming probiotics during pregnancy is safe for both mom and baby.

The importance of taking care of gut health during pregnancy is definitely one of the things I didn’t understand as a first-time mom.

Benefits of Taking Probiotics During Pregnancy

Despite being a blissful experience, pregnancy does change your lifestyle in numerous ways. You have to update your daily routine while pregnant and change what and how much you eat.

Due to the underlying hormonal fluctuations, your metabolism and overall immune system change drastically, demanding more effort from you to enjoy a healthy pregnancy. That’s where probiotics come in and can be really helpful!

Below we list the most apparent benefits of probiotics during pregnancy:

Reduced risk of gestational diabetes

Gestational Diabetes (GD) is a common issue among pregnant women, especially those who are overweight (BMI >30), have previously given birth to overweight babies, or have a family history of diabetes.

While gestational diabetes isn’t always life-threatening, it impacts your health adversely, making you vulnerable to many diseases in the long run, including obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.

Though you can manage gestational diabetes with drugs, you cannot prevent the consequent side effects.

However, studies have shown that consuming the right probiotics helps you reduce the risk factors that trigger GD. It also means that you can consume your favorite pregnancy desserts (of course, the healthy ones) even during pregnancy without fearing GD.

Recommended probiotics for gestational diabetes:

Formulations based on Lactobacillus spp. or Bifidobacterium spp. have proven useful for reducing gestational diabetes probabilities.

Manage your personal health

Maintaining your intimate health is always crucial – even during pregnancy. The vaginal microbiota normally changes on its own during pregnancy, increasing the count of Lactobacillus spp. – the friendly bacteria.

However, taking antibiotics can adversely disrupt this count, decreasing the friendly microbiome and leaving higher numbers of pathogens like Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus spp. This disruption may trigger annoying conditions such as eczema, and allergies, or even lead to premature births.

Likewise, an increased Candida population may cause vaginal thrush.

That’s where taking probiotics helps you as they promote the growth of friendly bacteria, alleviating the pathogenic (bacteria and yeasts) count.

Recommended probiotics for vaginal health:

Probiotics, including Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus strains are recommended to prevent and reduce vaginal infections.

Avoid UTI Risks

The biggest benefit you get with probiotics is that they keep you safe from UTIs.

Of course, having well-planned meals is critical to reducing the possibility of developing UTIs, but you can’t eliminate the risks simply by meals. Nonetheless, if you consume the best probiotics for UTIs, you may remain worry-free about this common pregnancy problem.

Recommended probiotics for UTIs

⦁ Bioma – Promotes and maintains a healthy gut microbiome, prevents infections via antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activities, and boosts overall immunity.

Garden of Life Urinary Tract+ – A soy-free, organic probiotics formula to promote a friendly microbiome, alleviate pathogenic bacteria levels from the urinary tract, and boost immunity with vitamin D3.

Other Health Benefits Of Probiotics For Pregnant Women

Since probiotics are not medicines to treat a specific condition, they improve your overall body health. Here we quickly list some more benefits you get upon taking probiotics during pregnancy.

  • Reduces eczema and other allergic conditions.
  • Promotes placental health for adequate nutritional supply to the baby.
  • Reduced risk of mastitis and improved breast health.
  • Prevents premature births due to membrane rupture.
  • Boosts overall immunity by maintaining a healthy gut microbiome.

Tips To Select The Best Probiotics For Moms

1 – Know the microbial strains

First, know the kind of bacterial strains present in your chosen probiotic. Most probiotics contain more than one strain; some even go up to 5-9 strains. Such formulations aim to address numerous health issues together.

While this sounds beneficial, you cannot afford to bear any side effects during pregnancy. Therefore, make sure your preferred formulation includes the right microbes, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 and Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12, that improve gut health and vaginal flora and boost overall immunity without endangering your baby.

2 – Pick the right CFU

Different probiotic formulations include varying CFU counts, ranging between 1 and 10 billion. Generally, more CFUs are believed to provide more benefits quickly.

But that’s not a rule of thumb, especially during pregnancy, because a higher CFU count may also induce some side effects, particularly if you have a weak immune system.

Therefore, talk to your care provider to know the right CFU for you.

3 – Double-check for safety

Although, no studies have demonstrated any negative impact of probiotics on pregnant women or babies. Nonetheless, to get the maximum health benefits, you should avoid any formulations that do not specifically address pregnancy-related issues like UTIs, vaginal infections, gestational diabetes, or induce side effects.

4 – Scrutinize the ingredients

Some formulations also include numerous other ingredients, like vitamin-D and Omega-3, to enhance the desired results induced by the probiotic strains.

However, some products may include potential allergens like dairy, gluten, or soy, which may worsen your condition during pregnancy. Hence, go through the product labels and ensure every ingredient is safe to consume.

Should you take probiotics while pregnant?

Probiotics serve as a natural workaround for pregnant women to address health issues that are difficult to manage via usual medicines.

In fact, if you start taking the right probiotic at the right time, you can simply avoid UTIs, vaginal infections, gestational diabetes, and gut-related problems throughout the pregnancy. In this way, they keep you stress-free as you avoid many drugs and antibiotics, protecting your baby from unnecessary exposure to harsh conditions.

But to get all these benefits, you must pick the best probiotics during pregnancy by carefully reading the product labels and consulting your doctor. Once you include probiotics in your daily diet, you can be well on your way to having a safe and healthy pregnancy.

More on Healthy Pregnancy

Here at Birth Eat Love, we’ve got lots of resources to help you have a healthier pregnancy!

Healthy Pregnancy Dinner Recipes

Best Protein Powders for Pregnancy

Electrolytes Powders while Pregnant – how to choose the best one!

Best Juice for Pregnancy

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