During pregnancy, changes in hormone levels, differences in water intake and diet, and just the stress of pregnancy on the body often results in digestive issues, namely constipation, bloating and diarrhea.
To prevent these digestive issues, and other microbiome imbalances which can cause problems elsewhere like vaginal thrush, we recommend probiotics. Probiotics are most often taken orally and contain numerous bacterial colonies to rebalance your gut microbiota ー this is especially important during pregnancy.
Probiotics During Pregnancy
As many women experience diarrhea or constipation during pregnancy, and as pregnant women have to eat more food than they’re used to, probiotic consumption is common among pregnant women to develop a healthier digestive system.
Scientists originally believed that probiotics cannot pass on to the unborn child as bacteria cannot pass through the umbilical cord and enter fetal circulation. However, recent evidence does suggest that maternal microbiota can cross through to the fetus via other pathways which has benefits for fetal health.
In the meantime, probiotics during pregnancy are perfect for cultivating gut flora in the mother which will have long-term benefits.
Are Probiotics Safe During Pregnancy?
Is it safe to take probiotics during pregnancy? Mostly safe. Probiotics may increase the risk of pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. For this reason, you should ask your doctor before taking probiotics while pregnant, particularly if you have risk factors for pre-eclampsia, such as high blood pressure or obesity. If you do have these issues, you may want to take them once you have delivered your baby instead – the probiotics will then both benefit your own gut and your baby’s as probiotics pass through breastmilk.
Pregnant or not, probiotics can also be dangerous in people who have compromised immune systems. This is because you are ingesting live bacteria which may overwhelm your immune system. If you have compromised immunity such as a low white blood cell count, or suspect that your baby might have an immune disorder, don’t take probiotics without consulting a doctor first.
Benefits Of Probiotics During Pregnancy
Research suggests that probiotics taken during pregnancy or nursing have several benefits for babies, including better immune function and lower risk of eczema. For example, to prevent atopic dermatitis (the most common form of eczema in babies), early evidence supports taking probiotics during pregnancy.
Evidence for preventing gestational diabetes is more mixed. In women already with gestational diabetes, probiotics may recover normal glucose metabolism. However, regarding prevention, other evidence shows that probiotics don’t stop gestational diabetes developing.
Interestingly, in mice, probiotic administration during pregnancy reduces autism risk. Evidence for autism prevention in humans is less clear, but there does seem to be some benefit.
The vaginal microbiome also needs maintaining during pregnancy 一 research shows that healthy vaginal flora guarantees that the baby, if delivered vaginally, will develop better gut microbiota. The evidence remains inconclusive regarding the effect of oral probiotic supplementation on vaginal bacteria, but some evidence suggests that probiotics do alter relationships between microbiota, suggesting a regulatory role of probiotics for restoring balance.
Probiotics For Pregnant Women: Best Probiotics During Pregnancy
Best Prenatal Wellness Probiotic
Culturelle Prenatal Wellness Probiotic
Culturelle Prenatal probiotics will help you cultivate healthy gut bacteria throughout pregnancy. This probiotic contains 12 billion CFUs (number of viable bacteria), consisting of 5 strains of Lactobacillus – the most well-known strain for effectively improving gut health with no side effects for your baby.
These tablets are chewable, making them easy to swallow. You will need to take one tablet every day ー each bottle contains 30 servings. Reviewers love this product and have found since taking these probiotics that their bloating has stopped and bowel movements have normalized.
Best Prenatal Probiotic With Prebiotics
Pink Stork Pro: Prenatal Vitamin Probiotic
Pink Stork Pro’s probiotic supplement contains both probiotics and prebiotics. The probiotic provides 6.2 billion CFU per serving and the prebiotic provides non-digestible fuel for these microbiota.
Each tablet contains 7 different strains of bacteria ー notably, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium spp. that are proven to be effective in recovering healthy gut bacteria. The prebiotic nutrients include inulin, agave and fructooligosaccharides.
The recommended dose is 1 tablet per day, which users find helps relieve symptoms of morning sickness and a constipated stomach.
Best Probiotic For Expecting Mothers
PRO-Moms Prenatal Probiotics
PRO-Moms Prenatal probiotics contains 6 strains of bacteria at 5 billion CFU per serving along with a unique ingredient: kiwi. Why kiwi? If taken simultaneously, kiwi promotes bacterial colonisation and increases the bioavailability of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria in particular.
Pro-Moms recommend taking up to 3 tablets a day to not only improve your gut microbiome, but also to reduce GI-related symptoms like heartburn ー a symptom of gastro-esophageal disease which is common in pregnant women.
Interestingly, PRO-Moms chose specific bacterial strains to encourage folic acid production in your gut. Folic acid prevents neural tube defects in your fetus ー we do recommend folic acid supplementation in addition to this probiotic to ingest the correct amount!
Best Probiotic For Pregnancy
Momma Prenatal Probiotics
Momma Prenatal probiotics contains an impressive 18 strains of bacteria at 18 billion CFU per tablet. On top of this, each tablet contains inulin as a prebiotic to fuel the colonies. Momma probiotics are tested in an FDA-registered, cGMP-certified facility to ensure purity. What’s great is that every time you buy their product, you also provide vitamins for a child in need.
Anecdotally, Momma probiotics successfully prevent digestive issues. However, due to the density of bacteria in this product, we definitely advise against taking it if you are immuno-compromised.
Best Raw Probiotics For Pregnant Women
Garden of Life Raw Probiotics: Women
Garden of Life probiotics provides by far the highest number of strains with 35 distinct strains at 85 billion CFU per serving. This probiotic isn’t necessarily designed for prenatal support but the bacterial strains included are all proven safe for pregnant women ー just make sure you aren’t immunocompromised before taking this product.
Garden Of Life probiotics also contain vitamins, namely vitamin D and folic acid, which are essential for a healthy pregnancy. In addition, the prebiotic Eastern European fruit and vegetable powder blend provides fuel for the bacteria.
If you struggle with digesting dairy products, this probiotic contains a dairy-digesting enzyme blend so you can take these tablets if you’re lactose-intolerant.
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