Pregnancy is a crucial period in a woman’s life when maintaining optimal health is of paramount importance. During this time, the health of both the mother and the developing baby is closely interconnected. In addition to maintaining a healthy diet while pregnant, many women seek out additional strategies to promote both their health and the health of their unborn child. One aspect that has gained significant attention in recent years is the role of probiotics during pregnancy.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that promote a healthy balance of microorganisms in the body. While probiotics are commonly known for their digestive benefits, emerging research suggests that they can play a vital role in supporting maternal health, immune function, and the overall well-being of both mother and baby during pregnancy.
In this article, we will explore the benefits, safety considerations, and recommended probiotic strains for pregnant women, providing you with a strong understanding of the topic and its potential impact on pregnancy outcomes.
Is It Safe To Take Probiotics While Pregnant?
Probiotics are generally considered safe for most pregnant women. Due to the low risk of bacteremia and fungemia from probiotics, they are less likely to enter the fetal systemic circulation and therefore less likely to cause harm1.
However, if you plan to take dietary supplements containing probiotics, talk to your doctor. When they give permission,
- Choose the best probiotics during pregnancy
- Choose well-known brands that have undergone extensive quality testing
- Read probiotic product labels carefully to make sure they are formulated specifically for use during pregnancy
- Find bacterial strains that have been studied for safety and efficacy during pregnancy
Even though probiotics are generally thought to be safe, some individuals report minor side effects like gas and gastrointestinal discomfort. Discontinue use and speak with your doctor right away if you experience any unusual symptoms or reactions.
When To Start Probiotics In Pregnancy?
Probiotics may provide greater benefits when taken early in pregnancy. According to studies, taking probiotics at 12–14 weeks of pregnancy reduced the incidence of gestational diabetes2.
However, each pregnancy is unique. The ideal time to start taking probiotic supplements while pregnant varies depending on the specific circumstances and the doctor’s advice. Doctors take into account things like medical history, any current illnesses, and pregnancy-related risks. In normal cases, to reap all its benefits, pregnant women can start taking probiotics in their first trimester.
But keep in mind that a number of foods, such as yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables, can provide you with probiotics. If you prefer to consume probiotics through your diet, you can talk to your doctor about the best food sources.
Benefits Of Taking Probiotics In Pregnancy
Taking probiotics during pregnancy can offer numerous benefits for both the mother and the developing baby. Here are ten benefits of taking probiotics during pregnancy
1. Reduces the chance of gestational diabetes
Having probiotics during pregnancy can greatly reduce this risk, especially if you have had gestational diabetes before. Gestational diabetes (GD) is the term for hyperglycemia caused by glucose intolerance in pregnant women between 24 and 28 weeks who have no prior history of diabetes. Increasing amounts of scientific evidence point to the role of gut microbiota (GM) dysbiosis in the emergence of glucose intolerance during pregnancy3.
One method of changing the gut microbiome is with probiotics. Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated that regular consumption of probiotics has a positive impact on maternal metabolism and helps regulate blood sugar levels4.
2. Reduces the chance of eczema and allergic conditions in infants
The development of the fetal immune system depends heavily on the immune system of the mother. There is evidence that probiotics can influence how the immune system responds. As a result, giving probiotics to expectant mothers may influence how their fetus’ immune system develops and lessen the probability that their offspring will experience allergic reactions5.
Probiotic dietary supplements for expectant and nursing mothers have been shown to lower the risk of infant eczema6.
Probiotics taken during pregnancy can influence the developing immune system of the baby in the womb, potentially lowering the risk of asthma and allergies later in life. Thus, one can rely on probiotics during pregnancy to prevent allergies in babies.
3. Helps to relieve functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders
Pregnancy-related nausea, constipation, upset stomach, bloating, and malaise are termed functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders because they do not have obvious structural abnormalities. Early in pregnancy, the gut microbiota is dramatically altered by sex hormone changes, which can result in morning sickness, vomiting, and constipation.
Around 85% of pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting, which significantly lowers their quality of life in the early stages of pregnancy. Probiotics were shown to reduce nausea and vomiting by 16% and 33%, respectively, in a study conducted among women experiencing morning sickness over the course of 24 hours7.
4. Strengthen the immune system
It has been shown that probiotic bacteria modulate specific immune functions and play a role in immune homeostasis by interacting with and stimulating the intestinal immune cells and commensal microflora. There is growing evidence that probiotic bacteria promote health and modulate the immune system8.
Thus, including probiotics in your pregnancy diet enhances the immune system, helping to prevent infections and reduce the risk of illness during pregnancy. This can be particularly beneficial for the mother, as the immune system naturally weakens during pregnancy.
Related Reading: 11 Simple Ways To Boost Immunity During Pregnancy
5. Enhances nutrient absorption and fosters better digestion
Probiotics aid in preserving the beneficial bacteria’s proper balance in the gut, which can help with common digestive problems like constipation, bloating, and indigestion, which are frequently experienced during pregnancy.
By supporting proper digestion, probiotics can aid in the absorption of essential nutrients and vitamins, ensuring optimal nourishment for both the mother and the baby. There is growing evidence that probiotics could be used to improve the absorption of micronutrients (such as calcium and iron) from ingested foods9.
6. Reduces risk of preterm labor
Preterm birth (PTB) is still one of the top global health issues. There is a higher risk of PTB in women experiencing bacterial vaginosis (BV) due to the loss of Lactobacillus10.
Probiotics are now being shown to be beneficial in the treatment of BV in more and more studies. The right kind of probiotic is crucial for preserving the reproductive health of women, treating gynecological conditions, and improving vaginal immunity11. Thus, probiotics during pregnancy may reduce the risk of preterm labor.
7. Helps prevent yeast infections
The use of probiotics during pregnancy for yeast infections has been well studied. The risk of yeast infections might rise as a result of pregnancy hormones. By bringing the vaginal microbiota back into equilibrium, probiotics can aid in the treatment of yeast infections. They produce lactic acid, which contributes to the acidic environment.
This prevents yeast and other bacteria from growing in the vagina. Probiotics, particularly those that contain Lactobacillus strains, can support the maintenance of healthy vaginal flora, lowering the risk of infections and yeast overgrowth12.
8. Helps prevent UTI
Urinary tract infections, which are more frequent during pregnancy, can be prevented and reduced with the use of probiotics. E. coli and other harmful gut bacteria, which enter the urinary system, are the main causes of UTIs. Bad bacteria have a lower chance of surviving and growing in a healthy gut microbiome, which reduces their potential to enter the urinary tract and result in a UTI. The addition of several Lactobacillus strains appears to be an effective method of preventing UTIs13.
9. Improves mood and mental health
Probiotic consumption during pregnancy may aid in lowering the danger of prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety. Probiotics have been shown to have a positive impact on mood and mental health.
The link between the gut and the brain is well-known. It was also claimed that probiotic consumption improved sleep quality. Recent studies indicate that probiotics may benefit postpartum mental health, possibly lowering the risk of postpartum depression.
Related Reading: 9 Ways To Cope With Uncontrollable Anger During Pregnancy
10. Lowers risk of preeclampsia
Pre-eclampsia is a potentially fatal pregnancy syndrome marked by high blood pressure. Studies have shown that probiotics may help reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia. Taking a probiotic drink late in pregnancy reduced the chance of developing the condition by 20%.
Risks Of Taking Probiotics During Pregnancy
Probiotics are generally considered safe for pregnant women, and research suggests that certain strains may have potential benefits. However, as with any dietary supplement or medication, there are some potential risks and considerations to be aware of when taking probiotics during pregnancy:
1. The risk of infection
Some probiotic strains can, in rare instances, cause infections, especially in people with weakened immune systems. Pregnant women should exercise caution and consult with their healthcare provider before taking probiotics. According to reports, some probiotic products include microorganisms not listed on the label. In some cases, these contaminants might be dangerous to one’s health.
2. Allergic reactions
Some individuals may be allergic or sensitive to specific strains of bacteria or other ingredients commonly found in probiotic supplements. If you have known allergies or sensitivities, it is important to check the labels and consult with your healthcare provider before using probiotics during pregnancy.
3. Lack of strict regulation
Probiotics are not subject to the same rigorous evaluation as pharmaceutical drugs. The quality and strains of bacteria can vary between products, and contamination can be a concern. It is advisable to choose a high-quality probiotic product from a reputable manufacturer like “Seed Daily Symbiotics.”.
When considering any specific brand or product, including Seed probiotics, during pregnancy, it is advisable to consult with your doctor.
4. Potential gastrointestinal symptoms
Some individuals may experience temporary gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloating, gas, or changes in bowel movements when starting probiotics. Pregnant women should be aware of any changes in their digestive health and consult with their healthcare provider if they have concerns.
5. Lack of comprehensive research
While some studies suggest the potential benefits of probiotics during pregnancy, the research is still limited, and more evidence is needed to fully understand the effects and safety of various strains and formulations. It is important to discuss probiotic use with your healthcare provider to weigh the potential benefits against any potential risks.
Related Reading: 7 Benefits Of Drinking Milk During Pregnancy
When Is The Best Time To Take Probiotics?
The best time to take probiotics can change depending on the person and the particular probiotic product. A few general principles should be taken into account, though.
- Probiotics should ideally be taken regularly and at the same time every day. By doing so, a routine is established, and regular consumption of the helpful bacteria is ensured
- Taking probiotics with a meal, preferably a solid meal, can help protect the probiotic bacteria from the acidic environment of the stomach. The presence of food in the stomach can buffer the acidity and provide a more favorable environment for the survival of the probiotics as they reach the intestines
- Some people prefer taking particular probiotics before bed because the bacteria can work overnight without being hindered by food or other medications. However, this is a personal choice that may not be applicable to all probiotic formulations
- The viability of the live bacteria in probiotics may be harmed by exposure to hot liquids like hot tea or coffee. So, it is best to take probiotics with cool or lukewarm liquids
Who Should Not Take Probiotics?
While most probiotics are considered safe, there may be variations in strains and formulations. It is important to choose a high-quality probiotic product from a reputable manufacturer. Moreover, you should never take probiotics without your doctor’s approval if you fall under any of the following groups:
- If you have a history of certain health conditions, such as pancreatitis or other serious digestive disorders, you should consult your healthcare provider before taking probiotics. Some strains of probiotics may have adverse effects in these cases
- Each person may react differently to probiotics. While probiotics are generally well-tolerated, some individuals may experience digestive discomfort or other side effects. If you experience any adverse reactions while taking probiotics during pregnancy, never hesitate to bring them to your doctor’s attention
- If you have a condition that compromises the integrity of your gut lining, such as leaky gut syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you should exercise caution with probiotics. While probiotics may have potential benefits for these conditions, certain strains or formulations might worsen symptoms in some individuals
- If you have a history of allergic reactions to specific strains of bacteria or any other components found in probiotic supplements (e.g., dairy, soy, or other ingredients), you should stay away from them
In conclusion, using probiotics during pregnancy has the potential to positively impact both the health of the mother and the fetus. More extensive research is needed, however, to establish concrete recommendations for specific strains, dosages, and durations of probiotic use during pregnancy. Before considering taking any supplements, including probiotic supplements, pregnant women must consult their doctors.
Every pregnancy is different, so what works for one pregnant woman might not work for another. Based on a patient’s unique medical history and health conditions, medical professionals can offer tailored advice. Probiotics have a generally favorable safety record when used during pregnancy, but care should be taken to select reliable, high-quality products that meet regulatory standards.