A pregnant mother's body goes through tremendous changes. Between the surging levels of hormones and a growing uterus that crowds your stomach, it's no surprise that your gut might not behave normally during pregnancy (hello, constipation and heartburn!) This often indicates that your gut is struggling and not housing nutrients properly. The good news is that prenatal probiotics help to ensure better gut health.
In this article, we'll discuss the benefits of probiotics and learn how to choose the best pregnancy probiotic for your needs. We'll also explore why these microorganisms are vital for you and your baby, unravel the connection between probiotics and common pregnancy concerns such as immunity, digestion, and mood, and offer tips on what to look for when buying a probiotic supplement. So, let's dive in!
Are probiotics good for pregnancy?
Probiotics are microorganisms that are good for your health, especially your digestive system.* Contrary to the common perception, not all bacteria are harmful. Probiotic bacteria or "good bacteria" are often found in fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, and yogurt. If you can't stomach these foods while pregnant or feel you aren't getting enough, another way to boost the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut is by taking a probiotic supplement, or a prenatal multi that has them already included.*
Are probiotics safe during pregnancy?
With the exception of Saccharomyces boulardii, probiotics are generally considered safe to take during pregnancy*, according to the National Library of Medicine. Probiotic supplements, particularly those containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains, are widely used and have been studied in pregnant populations. Several health organizations, including the World Health Organization and the American Gastroenterological Association, recognize these strains of probiotics as safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Though most probiotic strains are safe, it's important to remember that the quality and concentration of probiotics can vary greatly between brands and products. Not all probiotic supplements or strains are equally beneficial or recommended during pregnancy. Probiotics can also be dangerous if you have a compromised immune system*. It's because ingesting probiotics introduces live bacteria into the body. While these bacteria are typically beneficial and harmless, there is a small risk that these bacteria could grow excessively or escape the gut and enter the bloodstream, leading to infections*.
Therefore, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen during pregnancy. They can guide you on the right product, dosage, and strain based on your health condition and needs.
10 Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics During Pregnancy
Generally speaking, probiotics help to restore the balance in the microbiome by topping up with levels of friendly bacteria. Though probiotics are often associated with digestive health, their benefits stretch beyond just the stomach. Here are 10 potential health benefits of probiotics during pregnancy:
1. Improve Digestive Health and Prevent Constipation*
The digestive system is home to trillions of bacteria, collectively known as the gut microbiota. These bacteria help with various functions in the body, including digestion.
During pregnancy, changes in hormone levels, differences in water intake and diet, and the overall stress of pregnancy often result in an imbalance of microbiota, also known as dysbiosis. When the balance of these microorganisms is disturbed, it may lead to digestive issues, including constipation — a common issue faced by pregnant mothers.
Probiotics, which are live beneficial bacteria, may help restore the balance of the gut microbiota*. They add to the population of good bacteria in your gut, aiding digestion and improving gut motility. Several research studies have shown that certain strains of probiotics can improve bowel movement frequency and consistency.
2. Enhance Nutrient Absorption*
When you have plenty of healthy bacteria in your gut, your body can do a better job of adequately absorbing and distributing nutrients throughout your body*. The role of probiotics becomes particularly significant during pregnancy when your body's nutritional needs increase to support the growth and development of your baby.
Nurturing a healthy microbiome during pregnancy does not only benefit you and your baby during the gestation period. It also prepares your body for the upcoming breastfeeding phase. Healthier moms produce healthier breast milk supply, and taking probiotics is certainly a great way for you to stay healthy*.
3. Boost Immune Health and Energy Levels*
We get it. Even when you're eating right and doing your best to stay healthy, pregnancy can sometimes throw you a curveball. The surge in pregnancy hormones can often lead to nausea and other symptoms of morning sickness, leaving expectant mothers like you more susceptible to coughs and colds. This is exactly where the immune-boosting properties of probiotics come into play.
You might be surprised to know that around 70% of your immune system is in your gut. So, keeping your gut health in check is super important, especially during this challenging time. Certain types of probiotics can help boost your immune system, and may help you fight off or recover from infections quicker*.
Often pregnant women with nausea or morning sickness tend to have low energy levels. Taking a probiotic supplement may help to top up the levels of friendly bacteria and boost your energy levels*.
Furthermore, probiotics may also play a role in synthesizing vitamins B and K, essential for energy production and blood clotting*.
4. Boost Metabolic Health and Help Prevent Gestational Diabetes*
Taking probiotics during pregnancy may help promote better insulin response and healthy blood sugar balance while positively affecting other biomarkers*. They may also have a positive effect on DNA methylation, which helps prevent obesity in babies*. Researchers also believe pregnancy is the optimal time to reduce a baby’s obesity and metabolic disease risk with probiotics.
Several studies have shown that regularly taking a probiotic during pregnancy may help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels* — and may even benefit pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes. In one study, women who had Bifidobacterium lactis and lactobacillus rhamnosus strains had less GD than the control group. In another study, pregnant women who took probiotics and vitamin D together had better insulin levels and lower fasting blood sugar.
5. Help Manage Weight*
Excess weight is another risk factor for gestational diabetes. But don't worry, Momma, because probiotics are also a key ally in weight management. They help break down food more effectively, leading to better nutrient absorption and reducing the likelihood of excess food being stored as fat. They also help regulate your appetite by influencing the production of hunger hormones (ghrelin and leptin), which control your cravings and prevent you from overeating.
6. Supports Feminine Health*
Probiotic strains like Lactobacilli are naturally found in the vagina, helping to maintain a slightly acidic environment that protects against harmful bacteria and yeast. However, hormonal changes during pregnancy may disrupt this balance, leading to an overgrowth of bad bacteria and an increased risk of bacterial vaginosis (BV)and yeast infections that may threaten a healthy pregnancy. Such vaginal infections not only cause discomfort but may also lead to pregnancy complications, including preterm birth and low birth weight.
This is where friendly bacteria come to the rescue. Probiotics, specifically strains of Lactobacilli, may help restore and maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the vaginal flora and ward off those pathogenic bacteria that can cause painful and annoying issues*.
7. May help Prevent Pregnancy and Birth Complications*
Are probiotics safe during the first trimester?
Yes, probiotics are generally considered safe during all stages of pregnancy, including the first trimester. In fact, premature births could be triggered if a pregnant mother doesn't have healthy vaginal flora by allowing pathogenic bacteria to get into the amniotic fluid, which may cause early contractions*.
So, taking probiotics as early as possible is highly recommended. Probiotics help reduce inflammation and contribute to a healthier vaginal microbiome, preventing infections and reducing the risk of preterm delivery. But remember, it's never too late or too early to start incorporating probiotics into your health routine*! As always, these potential benefits underline the importance of discussing the use of probiotics with your healthcare provider to ensure they are a suitable addition to your pregnancy care plan.
8. May reduce the Risk of Eczema*
Another huge benefit of probiotic supplements is that they may help alleviate skin issues by encouraging hydration, improving texture, and soothing skin irritations*. Research shows that supplementing with fish oil and probiotics during pregnancy may reduce the risk of risk childhood allergies like eczema by 22%*. Another meta-analysis found a strong connection between probiotic supplementation and a significant reduction in the risk of atopic dermatitis — the most common form of eczema in babies*.
Other studies have also shown that supplementing with probiotics during the final month of pregnancy offered protective effects, guarding against eczema and allergies while supporting the newborn's immune development.
9. Reduce the Risk of Autism
The complex world of our microbiome continues to be a focus of modern scientific research, especially its impact on various health conditions. One of the most interesting studies was done in 2018 at the University of Virginia on the relationship between the mother's microbiome and the development of autism in her offspring. The study explains that a mother's microbiome substantially influences the development of autism spectrum disorders.
10. Alleviate Postnatal Depression and Anxiety
According to the NHS, at least one out of 10 women suffers from postnatal depression. The exact cause is still unknown, stemming from several factors, one of which could be changes in the gut flora and subsequent inflammation. Due to the strong connection between the gut and brain (also known as the gut-brain axis), any changes to the gut environment will likely affect our mood. The gut is also responsible for producing various chemicals, including serotonin (commonly known as the "happy hormone," though it is actually a neurotransmitter). Probiotics may help restore and maintain balance in the gut flora, contribute to healthy serotonin levels, and consequently help regulate mood*.
How to Choose the Best Probiotics for Pregnancy?
Navigating through the multitude of probiotic supplements can be challenging, especially when looking for one that's safe and beneficial for you and your baby. Here are some key factors to consider in finding the best probiotics during pregnancy:
Spore-based probiotics should be your best pick among other strains of probiotics, as they are stable in the presence of antibiotics. They are tiny superheroes in your tummy that have the ability to find "bad guys" in your gut and kill them, helping to prevent competitive exclusion*. This is when the bad bacteria bounce back faster, trying to take over and exclude the good bacteria after you take antibiotics.
They also produce prebiotics to help the regrowth of good bacteria in your gut*. To give more context to this, think of your gut as a garden. Spores act as gardeners that pull out weeds and grow good bacteria. A great example is Lactobacillus coagulans, a beneficial strain* of probiotics included in Root'd formulation.
Lactobacillus coagulans produces lactic acid, which may help inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria*. They basically keep the villains at bay, allowing the gut's 'good guys' to thrive and maintain a healthy microbiome*.
CFU stands for Colony Forming Units, indicating the number of live, active bacteria in a probiotic. The amount of CFU that a person will need ultimately depends on their purpose for taking probiotics. Most studies show that 10-20 million CFU are adequate for probiotic benefits, but larger CFUs may be recommended for individuals requiring significant support and seeking relief from certain health conditions.
During pregnancy, your body goes through a lot of physical and hormonal changes, some of which can affect your digestion and overall gut health*. Perhaps no group of people has as many digestive issues as pregnant mothers. Whether it's constipation, cramping, diarrhea, or heartburn, pregnancy has a host of digestive problems. In this scenario, probiotics can encourage more of the "good guys" in terms of bacteria in the gut, which may help your intestines move food through your digestive system*. They may help lower the colon's pH levels, making a more acidic environment, which aids in digestion and absorption of protein and other essential nutrients*.
Quality and Purity
Just like any other supplements, probiotics are not created equal. You'd be surprised to find probiotic supplements that contain questionable ingredients. Some brands include unnecessary ingredients or fillers, artificial colors, and preservatives which could potentially interfere with the effectiveness of the probiotic or even pose a risk to you and your baby's health.
When selecting a probiotic, it's essential to carefully review the ingredient list. Look for supplements made with high-quality ingredients and free from unhealthy additives. Some probiotics are also made using dairy, so if you're trying to avoid dairy while you're pregnant or breastfeeding, make sure to also check the label for an allergen statement.
In terms of purity, choosing a product that is free from contaminants is essential. Remember, your body's needs during pregnancy are unique, and what might be harmless in other circumstances could potentially have unintended consequences during this delicate phase of your life.
Most reputable brands undergo third-party testing to ensure their product's quality, purity, and potency. This means that an independent lab has verified that the supplement contains the amount of probiotics stated on the label and that it's free from harmful contaminants like heavy metals, pesticides, and bacteria.
Third-party testing provides an additional layer of assurance about what you're putting into your body, especially during such a critical time as pregnancy. It ensures that the product adheres to stringent quality standards and that you're getting exactly what you expect – no more, no less.
Not all companies voluntarily submit their products for third-party testing, so it's always a good sign when a brand is transparent about their testing protocols. This information is usually provided on the company's website or can be obtained by contacting their customer service directly.
Additionally, you should also look for a brand that follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). GMP is a system for ensuring that products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards. It minimizes risks involved in any pharmaceutical production that cannot be eliminated through testing the final product
Why Should You Choose Root’d Prenatal Multi?
At Root'd, we ensure that every ingredient and finished product we make and use is 3rd party tested by ISO-certified labs across the United States, ensuring the potency, purity, and integrity of all the Root'd MULTI's you trust. Feel free to check our Interactive Supplement Facts + Testing Results here.
Root'd is not just a daily probiotic supplement, it's a full-spectrum multivitamin and hydration powder that contains the most bioavailable sources and forms of vitamins and minerals with precise input levels to target the specific nutritional needs of pregnant moms like yourself as well as men and non-pregnant women*. Our MULTI goes above and beyond the traditional supplements laden with excessive sugar and synthetic ingredients.
Each pack of Root’d Prenatal MULTI contains a proprietary blend of high-quality ingredients, including enzymes, probiotics, and superfoods that aid in absorbing electrolytes and all robust nutrition needed to support your immune and blood health + baby's development*.
Say goodbye to constipation and heartburn! Give yourself and your baby the nourishment you deserve! Try Root'd now! Use code HAPPYTUMMY for 15% off + free shipping on your first order! Shop now!
And, if you don't feel the difference, you're covered by our 100% Love Guarantee. What does that mean? It means that If you don’t love Root’d, it’s on us!