Congratulations – you’re expecting a little one! Maybe this is your first one, maybe it’s your fourth one – no matter, though, it’s such an exciting time in your life.
Even if you already have children, you may have questions about what is safe to consume during pregnancy and what isn’t – especially when we’re always making new discoveries and advancements in healthcare.
Many people take probiotics on a regular basis, as part of their healthcare regimen, but it’s a common question as to whether you can continue to take probiotics once you find out you’re expecting. Here’s what you need to know about probiotics and pregnancy.
What Is a Probiotic?
This is a really good question, as the word gets thrown around a lot but it may not be understood exactly what a probiotic is.
A probiotic is a supplement that can be added to your diet to help your overall health. The supplement is made of good live bacteria that naturally live in your body. On a regular basis, you have good and bad bacteria that live in your body.
If the balance is off – say you have more bad than good bacteria – you can get an infection. The probiotic supplement helps to keep the balance of good and bad bacteria by adding good bacteria into your system.
How Do You Take Probiotics?
This supplement comes in a variety of forms, and it’s usually up to your individual preference as to how you take it. You can find this supplement in the following forms
- Foods (like yogurt)
- Liquids to be added to other drinks
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Do You Need a Prescription for Probiotics?
The good news is no, you don’t need a prescription. You can find this at your local health food store or even pharmacy – they are available for purchase over the counter.
As always, make sure you seek appropriate medical advice before adding them into your healthcare regimen and that you are selecting the right kind and amount for you.
Now, onto the big question: can you take probiotics while you’re pregnant?
If the question has come up for you, it likely means you’re doing your very best to have as healthy a pregnancy as possible. One of the biggest parts of having a healthy pregnancy is being very mindful of what you put in your body – even if you have used the particular item for years.
The good news is that you can definitely take probiotics during all stages of your pregnancy. In fact, taking probiotics offers a lot of powerful health benefits for both you and your baby during pregnancy.
As an added bonus, probiotics can also offer tremendous health benefits while you’re trying to conceive, post-partum and even while breastfeeding (if you breastfeed).
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What Makes Them Safe for Use During Pregnancy?
It has become much more common for doctors, midwives and doulas to be recommending probiotics to pregnant women or even women trying to conceive.
As with many areas of healthcare, the research into probiotics is always ongoing and new information is going to be found. At this time, researchers have not found any links between probiotic use and pregnancy/birth complications. In fact, current research has found there are great benefits to taking a probiotic supplement during your entire pregnancy.
Not All Probiotics Are Created Equal
While probiotics that contain human bacterial strains are a natural part of your body, so they are definitely safe to take during pregnancy, not all probiotics are going to have the same ingredients in them.
It’s important to pick a probiotic that has been researched and is backed by clinical trials. If you can, find a probiotic that is backed by the FDA as this means the company that manufactures it has gone through the appropriate stages of research and trials to prove their product is safe.
Additionally, you’ll want to check the ingredient list to make sure the one you choose is made up of human bacterial strains and has clean, whole ingredients.
If you have questions about certain brands or where to find the right option for you, it’s important to consult with your doctor. Doctors will have a list of options for you of brands or kinds of probiotics that are safe for you to take during pregnancy.
Before adding a probiotic, especially if you haven’t used one before, you should always talk with your doctor. They will know your medical history and if you have any special conditions to consider. Make sure your doctor is on board with this decision before adding it into your healthcare regimen.
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How Do Probiotics Work During Pregnancy?
So now you know that you can take probiotics during pregnancy, you may be asking yourself why exactly probiotics are so beneficial during pregnancy, how probiotics work and what are the best probiotics during pregnancy.
Taking a probiotic during your pregnancy works very similarly to how it would at any other time in your life. The probiotics will colonize in your small and large intestines, and help to improve the functions of your body.
As we already know from this article, probiotics are a way of introducing more good bacteria into your body to help balance the good and bad bacteria. The good, or beneficial, bacteria help with digestion, bowel movements, detoxification, boosting the immune system, and even cognitive function.
With pregnancy, if you can support your body from the inside out it’s going to go a long way to having a healthy pregnancy. If you can, taking a probiotic during pregnancy and even the first few months (or more) after birth you will be helping yourself to a healthy pregnancy and starting the foundation for a healthy newborn.
How Do Probiotics Benefit You During Pregnancy?
You’ve heard that probiotics are beneficial, even during pregnancy, but has it been explained exactly how they benefit you? Here’s what you need to know.
Probiotics will help to balance gut flora to make sure it’s healthy and functioning properly. With expectant mothers, healthy gut flora helps to ensure vitamins and nutrients that are introduced to your body are completely absorbed and nourish both mom and baby.
If you have experienced pregnancy before, or even have friends who have had children, you may know that bowel movements and digestion can be an issue during pregnancy. Probiotics can help keep bowel movements regular and improve digestion, which can be extremely beneficial for your comfort level during this time.
Also, probiotics can help protect babies against viruses or other pathogens entering mom’s bloodstream. These foreign bodies can lead to issues or complications with the birth, in some cases.
When you’re pregnant, your immune system will shift and change to accommodate your little one. Taking a probiotic can help with boosting your own immune system during pregnancy as well as postpartum while you’re recovering from birth.
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Are There Any Benefits To the Baby?
Most of the benefits talked about have been how probiotics help mom, but there are definitely benefits for your little one if you’re going to take it.
Probiotics can help your baby develop a healthy gut microbiome in the first year of their life, which can help with long-term health. One of the biggest advantages see in babies with a healthy gut microbiome is they have less food allergies and sensitivities, as well as fewer skin conditions.
How Can You Increase Your Intake of Probiotics?
There are two main ways to add probiotics to your body while pregnant, and even after: supplements and food.
Probiotics in the food are going to be found in foods that are fermented like yogurt, kombucha and miso.
It is beneficial to eat these foods that are rich in probiotics, but most people cannot eat enough of these foods to get sufficient amounts of good bacteria in their diet. So, that leads to looking at another source for getting enough probiotics in your diet. Additionally, many of the probiotics in foods will actually be killed with the acid in your stomach before they even get to your intestines – which is where they’re meant to do their work.
With that in mind, you can easily purchase a probiotic over the counter at your local pharmacy. This can come in the form of a pill, liquid or powder. The liquid and powder will most likely be added to water, or another drink, to help your body absorb it.
When you take probiotics as a supplement, the probiotics will make it all the way to your intestines where they can get to work doing what they do best.
Being pregnant, it’s very natural to have questions about what you can and can’t have so that you keep your little one as healthy as possible. Probiotics, thankfully, can still be taken during pregnancy since the bacteria found in them is natural to your body – you’re just adding a little more of it.
If you have any questions about which brand of probiotic to take or whether you’re taking the right amount, always talk to your doctor or pharmacist. They will have information about the right amounts to take, and brands that have been backed by research for years.
Keep your gut, and your baby’s gut, healthy during your pregnancy!