You may have heard a lot about probiotic and gut health.
But what does that all mean and how can that help you postpartum?
Let’s take a quick look at probiotics!
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are microorganisms that live in your body.
Yup! These are bacteria and yeast that are naturally
supposed to be there.
They are found in your
Today we will focus on the gut microbiome (the
microorganisms that live in the gut!)
True! Bad bacteria make you sick when it enters your
body. Good bacteria (probiotics) in your guts help fight them
Think of probiotics as The Jedis . The dark side (AKA bad bacteria) are
trying to destroy your natural balance. The Jedi’s (AKA good bacteria) are
trying to restore balance to your gut microbiome!
All of the above!
These good bacteria not only support your immune function and
control inflammation but also:
Help your body digest food.
Keep bad bacteria in check so that you don’t get sick.
Breakdown and absorb medications.
There is new research in the area of mental health and gut microbiome.
Studies suggest that proinflammatory bacteria are associated with
anxiety and depression, while anti-inflammatory bacteria are
associated with decreases in anxiety and depression.
Basically, there seems to be a communication between your gut
microbiome and brain which can regulate your mood and stress.
What about for pregnancy and
A study showed that if probiotic supplements are given to women
during pregnancy, she may have a decreased risk of postpartum
depression. More research is needed in the area of perinatal mood disorders
and gut microbiome to show benefit.
Although we don’t have definitive data showing that probiotic
supplementation can prevent postpartum depression or anxiety, it is good to
be proactive with your nutrition and support your gut microbiome
with your food choices!
True! Research in adults supports a link
between your gut microbiome and obesity.
There is little data so far in pregnancy and postpartum
but one study has shown that women given probiotics during pregnancy and
continued 6 months postpartum had less “belly fat” at one year
More studies need to be done to see effects of probiotic
supplementation on both mom and baby in pregnancy and postpartum before it
can be recommended.
What about your baby?
Your baby can get probiotics from your breast milk!
Some research on this have shown possible benefits for babies with
probiotic supplementation for moms during and after pregnancy. The main
benefit that has been shown is reducing eczema and
helping to optimize a baby's weight later in life.
Other potential benefits for babies being investigated
include less: allergies, asthma, food sensitivities, colic, illness (colds,
ear infection and flu).
You don’t have to take a probiotic supplement. These good
bacteria are already a natural part of your body. If you eat a
well balanced, nutritious meal rich in probiotics, you can
maintain your good bacteria.
Some studies suggest that probiotic supplements may
If you need to take antibiotics you may experience diarrhea less.
Reduce symptoms of gas, bloating, constipation.
Reduce number of colds by supporting your immune health
Always speak to your healthcare provider before starting
probiotics supplementation! Remember these are live
microorganisms and you should discuss if there are any risks for you.
You can always increase your diet in probiotic rich
There are many foods rich in probiotics, especially fermented
foods ( like Kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut).
What are fermented foods?
These are foods that have gone through a process where naturally
occurring microorganisms like yeast and bacteria break
down sugars in the food into other products.
This process helps preserve the food and can produce alcohol and gases but
also can produce helpful enzymes, vitamins and good
Not all fermented foods contain probiotics. If they are
pasteurized then that will kill any bacteria.
Here are some choices for foods rich in probiotics:
Yogurt - make it a breakfast with nuts and
Kefir - can be a nice drink as a snack
Sauerkraut - use it as a side
Spirulina - add it to a smoothie
Uncultured buttermilk - make a salad dressing
Miso - add it to a soup
Fresh sour dill pickles - eat it straight from
Tempeh - meat substitute to add at the end of
Kimchi - use as a side
Kombucha - can be a nice snack
Your gut microbiome can have an impact on both your physical and
So, pickle cravings are a good thing! Be proactive with your food choices
and include food rich in probiotics. Talk to your healthcare provider or a
registered dietician if probiotic supplementation is for you.
Reach out to our MaternalWell registered dieticians for pregnancy and
postpartum tips or text with any general questions!