Should you take probiotics in pregnancy?
By now, you have probably seen and heard about probiotics; it's a supplement which has been shown to have multiple health benefits, but are they important in pregnancy??
Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria and yeasts that can be found in our food and in supplements. They benefit us by helping us fight harmful bacteria. Probiotics live throughout the entire body, such as your skin, digestive system, ears, nose, eyes, unitary tract vagina.
In pregnancy they are also found in the placenta and your breast milk. Together these good bacteria make the microbiome, a collection of all micro-organisms found in a person. A healthy microbiome has the right balance of good and bad bacteria.
Why are probiotics helpful in pregnancy?
Taking Probiotics can support your pregnancy and give your baby a good start to life.
There are studies to show reduced risk of common infections in pregnancy such as urine infections and thrush. Women who use probiotics report less mastitis and breast pain. In postpartum recovery there were fewer reported wound infections after Caesarean section.
Best start to life!!!
We start off life by getting our initial seeding of bacteria from our mothers. So, Mothers are the major source of health gut bacteria in the first stages of life. Studies have shown a reduction in eczema, asthma, and allergies in children of mothers who take probiotics
Vaginal delivery of a baby enables the introduction of healthy bacteria from the vaginal microbiome.
Studies of babies born by caesarean section show that these babies don’t gain the same diverse healthy flora as vaginal deliveries, however this benefit can be promoted by a mother taking probiotics.
Topping up with probiotic supplements transfers the benefits through to breast milk, Which contains high amounts of probiotics. So breastmilk is an important source in helping baby acquire healthy gut flora and thus a stronger immune system.
The microbiome is also transferred through skin to skin after birth. Therefore, the early years of life are a critical stage for establishing the microbiome and immune system in babies.
The gut – brain axis
Taking probiotics boosts the balance of good bacteria which contributes to the extraction of vital nutrients such as vitamins. For example probiotics are responsible for helping us to make our vitamin D. Probiotics have been found to be as effective as mild antidepressants in studies.
They also affect our brain health by their role in the production of brain chemicals such as serotonin, our happy mood hormone. Simply put our gut health contribute to our mood and is essential for brain health.
Can’t we simply eat foods rich in probiotics?
Gut-friendly foods (particularly fermented are well known) such as yoghurt, kefir, pickles, kombucha, sauerkraut and apple cider vinegar. However, It’s not easy to eat all the right foods in the right amounts and science has shown we need higher amounts than what is available in food, so probiotic supplements are often needed
The Purer Vita probiotic - The Protect capsule
Created with the strains evidenced to be effective in pregnancy contains seven different live strains and a prebiotic called inulin.
It is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
- Aids digestion / irritable bowel syndrome/ reduction of constipation
- Promotes immunity
- Reduction in mastitis, wound infections, thrush and urinary infections
- Reduces inflammation and risk of allergy/ eczema in babies
- Helps with constipation and diarrhoea
- Reduction in anxiety and depression
Probiotics in pregnancy
Dr U Nartey Paediatric Consultant. MBchB. BSc. MRCPCH
Mrs K Thomas Senior Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist BSc MSc PGDip-Ad BABCP MBPsP
Dr K Joash Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist BSc MSc MMBS MRCOG