Every now and then we like to take a moment to reflect on things outside of baby and toddler sleep (not many, but they happen!) ;). Today’s post is a very special one brought to you by Helen Sanders, chief editor at HealthAmbition.com. She’ll be discussing 5 probiotics she believes to be the best for you to use to get you through this crazy thing called motherhood! Without further ado, here’s Helen, in her own words.
As a mother of two, I can say that I’m far too familiar with the physical and emotional changes that occur during pregnancy and motherhood. Your body feels “off”. You’re bloated, food you used to enjoy suddenly makes you feel sluggish, and your energy levels have depleted. Probiotics are synonymous with gut health, but many overlook their benefits for mothers. While doing research for my piece on the best probiotics I found out some of their fascinating benefits.
Probiotics are living organisms – mostly bacteria – found in your intestinal tract. During pregnancy and in the early stages of motherhood, this gut flora can be influenced by stress. The “bad bacteria” can proliferate and overtake the “good bacteria” that support digestive health. I also had peace of mind knowing that I was breastfeeding naturally enriched milk that will support my child’s developing immune system.
Many mothers may be a bit hesitant about consuming probiotic rich foods. I know I was. Something about consuming foods containing live cultures didn’t sit well with me at first. However, the risk of the “good” bacteria becoming a problem is extremely low. Probiotics are very unlikely to reach the systemic circulation of a growing fetus. Analysis of probiotics’ role in a woman’s pregnancy has been carefully carried out. A systematic review of eight control trials spanning more than 1500 pregnant women, ultimately found that probiotic strains had no adverse effect on pregnancy.
It’s important to consume probiotic products that specifically cater to your stressed body and your growing child.
A type of lactic acid, L. Casei combats pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as stomach upset stemming from antibiotic use. Chronic fatigue syndrome is helped with a probiotic formulated with L. Casei, as many of the symptoms of the syndrome correlate with a flora imbalance. Chronic fatigue syndrome could be problematic during pregnancy, with 29% of new mothers experiencing worsening of symptoms.
Common sources of L. Casei includes fermented products like yogurt. Yogurt is traditionally made to preserve the live bacterial colonies, giving it its texture and taste. To ensure that your yogurt is enriched with probiotics, look for the “Live and Active Cultures” label mandated by the National Yogurt Association.
This probiotic circumvents the adverse effects of antibiotics on the gastrointestinal tract, with S. Thermophilus jump-starting the production of beneficial bacteria. Breast milk will also help enhance the gut flora of the child. S. Thermophilus is known to help decrease the occurrence of baby colic.
A study examined 50, 15 through 120-day old infants with colic that were assigned medicine fortified with S. Thermophilus. 82.6 percent were largely relieved of symptoms, compared to the 37.5% that were on a placebo. S. Thermophilus is found in yogurt and fermented food.
Postpartum depression and anxiety affects 1 in 7 mothers. Even though there is no single cause of postpartum depression, it requires comprehensive planning to cope. L. Plantarum can be part of that plan.
A clinical trial assigned subjects affected by clinical depression with either a probiotic or a placebo over the span of 8 weeks. The probiotic, consisting of 2 billion colonies forming units of L. Plantarum, helped alleviate symptoms. Participants who took the probiotic scored lower on the Beck Depression Inventory. This probiotic is naturally occurring in fermented products like sauerkraut.
Children delivered via cesarean section have a reduced amount of beneficial bacteria when compared to naturally delivered babies, taking up to 6 months to reach a healthy balance. During a standard delivery, the baby’s initial exposure to gut microbiota when it passes by the rectum and through the birth canal.
B. Breve allows the child’s gut bacteria to proliferate and reach optimal levels. Examinations of preterm infants that were given B. Breve have shown improvement in their gut flora, as the probiotic was able to “colonize the immature bowel” efficiently.
B. Breve has the unique ability to grow and thrive in different types of milk. Like most probiotics, B. Breve can also be found in yogurt and fermented foods.
Highly resistant to the stomach’s acids, B. Coagulans is very effective at recolonizing the gut bacteria of a new mother. Stress from motherhood can cause bacteria to change in size, consistency, and number; adversely affecting the immune system.
A naturally occurring spore, B. Coagulans aids with the digestion of lactose by helping break down their enzymes. The probiotic helps with vaginal health as well, with a study showing that women who consumed B. Coagulans daily experienced regulated vaginal pH levels, with most participants noting a reduction in vaginal pain.
B. Coagulans is found in fortified natto, a Japanese dish consisting of fermented soybeans.
These probiotic strains are favorites for expecting mothers and those who are well on their journeys of parenthood. They will help your body break down food, making your digestive system more productive, and helping you feel more energized.
Note that it’s recommended that you meet with your family doctor before supplementing with a probiotic to ensure that there aren’t any underlying issues.
Helen Sanders is chief editor at HealthAmbition.com. Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.