Can You Take Probiotics While Pregnant? See What the Experts Say

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    Evidence suggests that taking probiotics during pregnancy is not only safe, but also boasts a wide variety of health benefits for both mom and baby.

    Have you ever wondered if you should toss your probiotics while pregnant? If so, you are not alone! When it comes to pregnancy, safety is paramount for both mother and baby. Many expecting parents have questions about the use of probiotics during pregnancy, wondering if they are safe and beneficial.

    While researchers are still exploring the potential effects of probiotics on pregnant women and their babies, evidence suggests that taking probiotics during pregnancy can be beneficial for both mother and baby. Let’s dive in and learn a bit more about what probiotics are and their potential benefits.

    What are probiotics?

    Probiotics are living microorganisms that have numerous health benefits. Probiotics are a combination of live beneficial bacteria and/or yeasts that naturally live in your body. When we think of the word “bacteria,” we often view it in a negative light because bacteria are often responsible for making you sick. However, bacteria aren’t all the same! Our bodies consist of both good and bad bacteria that help keep our body healthy.

    The balance between the good and the bad bacteria is what is most important. Probiotics are referred to as “friendly bacteria” or “good bacteria” because they help keep this balance of microbes in check, especially in the gastrointestinal tract. They promote healthy immune function and healthy gut microbiome. . When gut bacteria is out of whack, the foods we consume may not be properly absorbed and digested.

    In order for a microbe or microorganism to be called a probiotic, it must have several characteristics. These include being able to be isolated from a human, survive in the intestine after being eaten, provide a proven benefit to you, and be safely consumed.

    How do probiotics work during pregnancy?

    Research suggests that consuming the right type of probiotic supplements or eating foods containing live cultures can help support a healthy gut and vaginal microbiome.

    In addition to promoting overall gut health, probiotics are able to colonize the vaginal flora, which is especially important during pregnancy. When the vaginal microbiome is imbalanced, the pH of the vagina can be altered. The overall goal is to maintain healthy vaginal pH. Based on this recent study, when administered vaginally, Lactobacillus rhamnosus BMX 54, is a strain that can support a healthy vaginal microbiome throughout pregnancy. Meanwhile another study mentions two different strains within the Lactobacillus family (Probiotics containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus-GR1 and Lactobacillus reuteri-RC14) that have been shown to promote healthy vaginal flora when administered either orally or vaginally. Additional research is needed to explore various doses and address the most effective dose. Overall both methods have been proven to be safe during pregnancy.

    Does it matter the strain of probiotic you take while pregnant?

    When it comes to a particular strain of probiotics when pregnant, research is varied. There isn’t just one strain that has been extensively clinically researched specifically for pregnancy. Overall probiotics are unlikely to cause harm to the fetus. The two main studies conducted with pregnant people involved the Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain GG and Bifidobacterium lactis however there are many other strains available. With that being said, pregnant women should always consult with their practitioner before starting any new supplement routine, and this includes selecting an appropriate probiotic strain for their needs.

    What are the benefits of taking probiotics during pregnancy?

    Pregnant people often focus on the health of their growing baby, but what about the health of their own bodies during this time? You will be surprised when you learn just how many benefits there are to supplementing with probiotics!

    Probiotics are able to aid in gut health, support a healthy pregnancy, promote healthy immune responses, promote postpartum health, and manage symptoms associated with morning sickness.

    Aids in gut health

    During pregnancy, gut bacteria plays an important role in helping to absorb vital nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and proteins. The proper absorption of these nutrients is especially for the growing fetus.

    One study found that 49 pregnant women who took a multi-strain probiotic supplement from an average of 17 weeks pregnant until delivery experienced increased gut bacteria diversity. Improved gut diversity is associated with reduced episodes of digestive upset and discomfort.

    Helps prevent symptoms of morning sickness

    One of the most dreaded and debilitating parts of pregnancy includes the symptoms associated with morning sickness! Fortunately, there may be an answer to this dreaded phenomenon: probiotics. The data from a recent study showed that probiotic supplementation significantly reduced the severity of nausea, vomiting, and constipation, and improved overall quality of life.

    Helps maintain a healthy gut microbiota

    Bacterial diversity is a sign of a healthy gut. Supplementing with probiotics supports gut diversity. Some tell-tale signs to determine whether you may need a probiotic include occasional digestive discomfort such as gas, bloating, or inconsistent bowel movements.

    Are probiotics safe during pregnancy?

    Yes, probiotics are safe during pregnancy! A scientific review that analyzed over 2,500 publications and studies concluded that there is no risk of probiotics influencing birth outcomes.

    Probiotics may not be necessary for everyone and can be supplied through the diet if you eat fermented foods like kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, and kombucha. Consuming an adequate amount of fiber also helps to ensure that your gut bacteria remain healthy. Some great sources of fiber include whole grains, beans, berries, and dark, leafy greens.

    Can probiotics during pregnancy be harmful to some?

    Research suggests that probiotics do not pose any safety concerns for pregnant and lactating women. Systemic absorption by the fetus is rare when probiotics are used by healthy individuals, and the current literature does not indicate any known increase in adverse pregnancy outcomes.

    Can you take probiotics while breastfeeding?

    Taking probiotics while breastfeeding has been found to be safe, as they are not expected to transfer into breast milk. There have been no published data regarding any adverse effects in breastfed infants whose mothers have been supplementing with probiotics.

    How to take probiotics during pregnancy

    In order to maximize both safety and effectiveness when taking probiotics, it is important to follow label instructions closely. First, pregnant women should always consult their healthcare provider before starting any form of supplementation including probiotic supplements. Secondly, it’s crucial to read labels carefully in order to determine which type of probiotic is best suited for your individual needs, as well as what proper dosage may be recommended for you specifically.

    Can you take probiotics and prenatal together?

    Moms-to-be often wonder if they can take both prenatal vitamins and probiotics together. The answer is: Yes, it is safe to take both types of supplements together.

    Probiotics are beneficial bacteria and yeasts that live in the digestive tract, helping to keep the digestive system healthy. Prenatal vitamins help meet increased needs for essential nutrients during pregnancy, including folic acid, iron, calcium, and vitamin D. Care/of’s Baby Love vitamin has all these important prenatal vitamins in just the right quantities.

    Taking both prenatal vitamins and probiotics may improve overall health during pregnancy by providing a range of important minerals, vitamins, and beneficial bacteria for mom and baby.

    Final takeaways

    It is clear that supplementing with probiotics prenatally and postpartum poses a wide array of health benefits. During pregnancy, the body is going through a lot of changes and probiotic ingestion can help ease some of the symptoms that come along with it.

    Taking probiotics during pregnancy has many advantages, including helping to balance out good bacteria levels in the gut and alleviating morning sickness.

    Most importantly, supplementing with probiotics is safe for both mother and baby. Probiotics do not pose any safety concerns for pregnant and lactating women. Always make sure to check in with your healthcare practitioner prior to beginning any new supplements.

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    Dr. Pragati Gusmano, ND
    Formulator and Medical Researcher
    Dr. Gusmano is a licensed naturopathic physician. She received her doctoral degree from Bastyr University and has over a decade of experience in nutrition and the natural products industry. Her clinical interests include lifestyle medicine, optimizing nutrition at all stages of life, pediatrics, and mind-body medicine. In her free time, you’ll find her outside connecting with nature, spending time with her two children, and cooking plant-based meals.
    Jordana Tobelem, RD
    Freelance Contributor
    Jordana Tobelem is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys helping others become the best versions of themselves through proper nutrition education. Jordana is passionate about promoting lifestyle changes through nutrition, physical activity, and behavior to create a superior quality of life. She uses her experience in the clinical field of dietetics to provide consulting services to an array of healthcare brands and companies. Jordana loves finding the most current research in nutrition to create meaningful content to share with her clients. Jordana has been a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics since 2018 and also holds certifications in both Personal Training and Health Coaching.