It's commonly known that the diet and lifestyle of an expecting mother can have a huge effect on the health of her unborn child. What's less well known, however, is the fact that babies also receive a host of probiotic bacteria transferred from their mother's birth canal during a natural delivery.
Of course, this brings up the question about whether probiotics for women should be taken during pregnancy. The answer is yes, since they offer a wide range of health benefits for both the mother and the child, especially when a baby is delivered via C-section.
How Do Probiotics for Women Help During and After Pregnancy?
Here are 4 of the main reasons why expecting mothers need a probiotic-rich diet while they're pregnant, and after:
1. They Aid with Better Digestion – Probiotic microorganisms help our bodies break down various components of food, i.e. proteins, fats and carbs so they are digested more easily. They also convert fiber from food into fatty acids needed by our bodies, specifically the cells lining the intestinal wall.
A regular intake of probiotics can reduce digestive disorders like bloating, infectious or antibiotic-associated diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, gas, constipation and heartburn. Since they improve digestive regularity and nutrient absorption, they help keep you and your baby in better health!
2. They Reduce the Risk of Complications – When you're pregnant, you need to be extra careful about protecting yourself and your child against infection. Probiotics can help with strengthening your immune system, fight bacterial vaginosis and regulate your blood pressure in case of an intestinal inflammation.
Studies also point to a lower risk of developing preeclampsia (the number one cause of maternal death in America) if you take fermented milk products during the first half of your pregnancy, as well as reduce the occurrence of allergies, eczema and pediatric atopic dermatitis in children.
3. They Help You Lose Post-Pregnancy Weight – Taking probiotics for women from your first trimester up to the time you stop breastfeeding helps you shed those postpartum pounds quicker.
According to the British Journal of Nutrition, probiotic supplements with strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium have proved to be especially helpful at reducing central obesity (BMI of 30 or higher) in women within a year after they deliver their child. That's worth trying, indeed!
4. They Reduce Postpartum Depression – The gut is often called the second brain, and the relationship between gut health and mental health may seem obscure, but it exists. A properly functioning digestive system during and after pregnancy could tremendously reduce the chances of postpartum blues.
This is also attributed to the fact that probiotics for women can change the gut's neurotransmitters, helping it handle anxiety and depression better. Ever notice that when you're nervous, you get "butterflies in your stomach"? It's the same principle, really.
Continuing to take probiotics after the baby is born helps ensure that both of you stay in top shape, so give those friendly bacteria a chance to do their job!
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