Should You “Follow Your Gut” and Take a Probiotic in Pregnancy?
7 minute read
If I told you there was one thing you could do that could help you prevent unpleasant pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness and constipation, reduce birth complications, and even strengthen your baby’s immune system for the rest of their life, would you want to know what it is?
Of course. That’s why I hope you will read this article.
What is the one thing that can do so much? It’s taking care of your gut health in pregnancy.
This can be done by eating the right foods, creating healthy stress management and sleep habits, and avoiding toxins. On top of that, record amounts of women are turning to supplementation with a probiotic to fill gaps and support their gut health.
But how do you know if probiotics in pregnancy are right for you? Here’s what you need to know.
Probiotics for Women & Birthing People During Pregnancy
Probiotics are made of good living microorganisms: bacteria and yeast. The word “bacteria” might make you a little nervous. But probiotics are actually made of the good bacteria that naturally live in your body. You have several places in your body where these good bacteria naturally live including your:
- Urinary tract
Whether you’re hoping to become pregnant, are pregnant, or are a new parent, it’s important to have a healthy balance of good and bacteria present in your body. This is also known as your body’s microbiome.
Too much “bad bacteria” can lead to infection and inflammation. The “good bacteria” helps to keep your body in neutral and can:
- Help your body digest food.
- Keep bad bacteria from getting out of control and making you sick.
- Create vitamins.
- Help support the cells that line your gut to prevent bad bacteria from entering your bloodstream.
- Breakdown and absorb nutrients and medications.
Why Birthing People Take Probiotics During Pregnancy
Pregnancy changes your body in many ways. Your hormonal levels will change. Your immune system will shift. Your sleep patterns may get disrupted. And if you experience morning sickness — you may not be able to eat or drink normally.
These changes along with stress, aging, diet, environmental toxins, medications and a sedentary lifestyle can deplete the good bacteria in your body.
That’s why many expecting parents are curious about taking a probiotic, If you need an extra boost in managing these changes and symptoms during pregnancy, a probiotic may be right for you.
The Risks of Taking a Probiotic During Pregnancy
If you’re generally a healthy person… The good news is that the risks of you taking a probiotic are almost non-existent. Probiotics have an extensive history of being safe to use, especially in healthy people.
There is a very small risk of taking a probiotic for people with severe illnesses or compromised immune systems. Taking a probiotic could possibly lead to infection in these cases. But the risk of getting an infection from a probiotic is so low — only 1 per 5.6 million people — it’s not seen as a risk for most people.
But does being pregnant change things and make you more at risk if you take a probiotic?
Are Probiotics Safe During Pregnancy?
There isn’t a 100% definitive answer to this question. Research is still being done to discover more about probiotics. But generally, the use of probiotics is considered safe, even throughout your pregnancy.
Here are 3 reasons why:
- There has been no link between probiotics and miscarriages or malformations.
- There has been no link between probiotics and increased risk of C-section rates, birth rate, or preterm birth.
- More studies are being conducted that show that probiotics during pregnancy are safe.
The National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health have concluded that there does not appear to be any risk of probiotic use for expecting, or lactating, mothers.
This is good news if you’re pregnant and thinking of taking a probiotic! Especially since probiotics have been found to have many benefits for you and your future baby.
Probiotics During Pregnancy Benefits
Probiotics, like this one from Needed, are great for helping your gut and body to function as it normally should.
But on top of these benefits — probiotics play a role in boosting your health during pregnancy. These extra benefits include:
- Improved gut and digestive health
- Improved placenta health
- Decreased risk of gestational diabetes
- Decreased risk of high blood pressure, inflammation and preeclampsia
- Reduced depression, anxiety and postpartum depression
- Less pregnancy constipation and irritable bowel syndrome
- Prevent bacterial vaginosis and vaginal inflammation
Probiotics can also improve your birth outcomes and lead to a smoother, more positive birth experience! Probiotics can help prevent preterm delivery and reduce birth complications.
Plus, probiotics can actually help improve your baby’s health both in the womb and beyond! Your baby may experience these benefits:
- Reduced perinatal infections — bacterial or viral infections that you pass on to your baby in the womb.
- Reduced risk of infant eczema
- Improved brain health
- Stronger immune system
- Improved gastrointestinal health
Should You Take Probiotics During Pregnancy?
Taking the right prenatal probiotic can make a big impact on both your health and your baby’s health. Probiotics aren’t a necessity, but may offer many extra benefits during pregnancy.
A probiotic may be especially helpful if you experience high blood sugar, insulin resistance, or you have a family history of allergic diseases.
Just as with medications, you should talk to your healthcare provider before starting to take a probiotic. Make sure your doctor is aware of your medical history, health conditions, and pre-existing conditions. They can help you to know if a probiotic is necessary and help you take a safe amount.
A Probiotic Doesn’t Replace Your Prenatal Vitamin
At the end of the day, a probiotic is a helpful supplement, but it doesn’t replace your prenatal vitamin! A prenatal vitamin has essential vitamins and nutrients like folate and omega-3s that your baby needs for healthy growth and development. You can find the best prenatal vitaimns here.
When to Start Probiotics During Pregnancy?
You can start taking a probiotic any time throughout your pregnancy — even in the first trimester!
And if you’re wanting to get an even bigger head start, you can start taking a probiotic before you’re pregnant. Starting early can even reduce your risk of gestational diabetes.
But it’s always a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider before starting to take any supplements. They can talk with you about the benefits, potential side effects, and make recommendations about what types of probiotics will be the most helpful for your unique situation.
The Best Way to Get Probiotics During Pregnancy Naturally
Many expecting parents try to get their probiotics naturally. You can do this by eating fermented foods that naturally contain probiotics.
The #1 natural source of probiotics? Yogurt! But make sure to choose yogurts that have live or active cultures.
And here are some other popular foods with probiotics. These options are also super healthy and good for you!
- Chocolate — High-quality dark chocolate has significantly higher amounts of probiotics.
- Miso — Found in miso soup.
- Tempeh — Firm soybean product similar to tofu.
- Kombucha Tea
- Buttermilk and fermented milk
- Some types of cheese — Like Gouda, mozzarella, cheddar, and cottage cheese. Check to see if the cheese has active or live cultures.
- Kefir — Similar to yogurt, this is a combination of fermented kefir grains and goat’s milk.
How To Choose A Probiotic In Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant or are trying to get pregnant, your healthcare provider is the best person to answer any questions you may have about which is the best probiotic supplement to take.
Your doctor can provide customized recommendations and help you learn which supplements match your diet, lifestyle, and overall health.
And if they do recommend a probiotic supplement, they can also advise you on which specific strains may be the most effective for you.
Pro Tip: When purchasing a probiotic supplement, make sure to choose products from reputable brands to ensure safety. You can check to see if a certain brand is verified by a third-party organization like ConsumerLab.com, NSF International, and the US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) (Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).
The Best Probiotics During Pregnancy
OF course I have some favorite companies that I know and trust if you are looking fora probiotic in pregnancy. If I were pregnant today, I would be using one of these 3 probiotics.
These probiotics are formulated by Dr. Ben Lynch, who has done more research than anyone on how to reduce disease in unborn children. The best prenatal probiotic is is ProBiota Histamine X because it was formulated to exclude probiotic strains known to increase histamine levels in the gut. The placenta naturally contains histamine-metabolizing enzymes, but you can further support it by taking these beneficial probiotics during pregnancy.
This is one of my favorite companies because they prove the effectiveness of their proucts with clear and high quality research. Their products are inspired by nature, informed by science, and tailored to your needs. You can get 20% off the Needed probiotic when you shop with code SBB20.
This is actually a prenatal vitamin that you dissolve in your water. It also contains 7 superfoods and probiotics. If you are looking for an all in one solution, this is a great choice!
Should You Take a Probiotic During Pregnancy?
Your gut health is really important during pregnancy and beyond. And taking a probiotic supplement can have many health benefits for both you and your growing baby.
But this is a personal decision! Make sure you feel comfortable and seek advice from your healthcare provider.
And remember that you have options and choices. Explore the options that are best for you and your baby! In addition to probiotic supplements, you can get probiotics naturally from food, or simply focus on eating a well-balanced diet while taking a prenatal vitamin.
You ultimately know your body best. Follow your “gut” and listen to your intuition!