Probiotics During Pregnancy

Probiotics are live yeasts and bacteria that are usually linked to many health benefits such as treating and preventing multiple conditions. Most of the time you take them as food supplements or eat them in yogurt. They are frequently referred to as friendly bacteria. These friendly bacteria sit in the gut to help us break down food, providing energy for the cells which line our intestines. Despite all of the health benefits associated with probiotics, many pregnant women wonder if they are safe to eat. Although they are safe, it is best to be informed about anything you consume while pregnant.

Is It Safe to Take Probiotics During Pregnancy?

Simply put, probiotics are safe during pregnancy. They are incredibly popular around the world, particularly Europe although they are growing in popularity in the United States due to their health benefits. These helpful bacteria live in the colon. The most popular of the probiotics is lactobacillus acidophilus and can be found in cultured foods such as yogurt (labeled to contain “live and active cultures”).

To understand how probiotics work, you must understand the gut. There you will find billions of good and bad bacteria. If the harmful bacteria take over, you can experience inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diarrhea, or fungal infections including thrush (which is yeast). Probiotics work to fill the intestines with these good bacteria that stop bad bacteria from growing.

How to Choose Healthy Probiotics

As long as you opt for probiotics from natural supplements and food sources, they should be safe during pregnancy. However, you should still talk to your doctor before you start taking a supplement and always follow their guidelines. Combine the advice of your doctor with that of the manufacturer of your supplement, but if there is a conflict in information, listen to your doctor as they know your particular situation and medical history and condition.

What Are the Benefits of Taking Probiotics During Pregnancy?

Generally speaking, probiotics can help restore your intestinal balance if you have diarrhea. Therefore they can help if you have diarrhea occasionally during pregnancy. They can also help in the following ways:

  • Prevent yeast infections

During pregnancy it is common to develop yeast infections as the intestinal flora are under the threat of yeast overgrowing and this can destroy them. When you eat kefir, yogurt, or other foods with probiotics, your intestines will develop stronger flora and prevent new yeast from forming. This can lead to a much more comfortable and healthy pregnancy.

  • Fatty acid growth

Whether or not you are pregnant, probiotics can help your body convert fiber into fatty acids which are healthy and nourish the cells lining your intestines. These fatty acids are considered healthy for your blood and heart and also work to strengthening the digestive tract so it is less likely to become upset.

  • Prevention of preterm labor

Probiotics also help destroy harmful bacteria, weakening them before they enter your uterine cavity. Additionally they prevent pre-term amniotic membrane rupture and vaginosis. This in turn prevents pre-term labor due to vaginal infection. You can take probiotics vaginally or orally for this purpose.

  • Post-pregnancy benefits

Even after you give birth, probiotics will continue to benefit you. They can help prevent postpartum infections and if you are breastfeeding, they will also strengthen your baby’s immune system. This in turn will reduce the risk of childhood eczema and allergies as well as asthma.

What Are the Other Benefits of Probiotics During Pregnancy?

Experts still need to do more research, but they believe that other benefits of probiotics include:

  • Treating diarrhea, particularly after treatment using certain antibiotics
  • Preventing as well as treating urinary tract and vaginal yeast infections
  • Treating irritable bowel syndrome
  • Reducing the recurrence of bladder cancer
  • Speeding up the treatment for certain intestinal infections
  • Preventing and treating eczema for children
  • Preventing and making colds and flus less serious

Side effects from taking probiotics are rare and most of the time healthy adults can safely add probiotics (or foods with them) to their diets. Before you start taking any supplements, talk to your doctor to make sure they are safe for you.

Which Foods Contain Probiotics?

If you would like, you could purchase probiotic supplements. These tend to come in the form of drinks, powders, or capsules. You can also get probiotics from your diet. You will notice that some foods contain the probiotics in their natural state while others will have them added at some point during the preparation process.

  • Diary food

Yogurt is the food that most people think of when looking for probiotics. If you choose to get the probiotics from yogurt, be sure that it is “live yogurt” as not all of the options you find in the store will contain them. Similarly, live yogurt drinks also contain probiotics. Another dairy option to get these healthy bacteria is to consume milk, either unfermented or fermented depending on your preference.

  • Fermented food

For those who do not like to consume a great deal of dairy (or who are lactose-intolerant), there are also other options for foods with probiotics. Both tempeh and miso contain them as they are made using fermented soya beans. You will also find that certain soya drinks contain them as well as some juices. Although not always the case, generally speaking foods with probiotics will have some sort of message indicating that they contain “live and active cultures” so be sure to look for that type message or a similar one.

The following video will give you more information about foods with probiotics: