Why Probiotics For Mom Are Important For Baby, Too
The microbiome – the collection of bacteria and other microbes that live in and on us – is one of the newest frontiers in wellness. From the moment we are born, the bacteria in our bodies have a profound effect on our health and wellbeing. As a baby passes through its mother’s birth canal, it picks up her microflora. This vaginal microflora from mom helps to colonize the baby’s own microbiome. After birth, mom’s breast milk continues to nourish her baby’s microbiome. Breast milk contains both probiotics (good bacteria) and prebiotics (a source of food that nourishes the good bacteria).
Babies Inherit Mom’s Bacteria
When mom’s microflora is healthy and balanced, the baby’s will be as well. But if mom has dysbiosis– unbalanced gut and vaginal flora – chances are the baby will, too. One of the best things a mom can do for a healthy baby is to make sure she has good bacterial balance in her gut. If she has healthy gut bacteria, chances are she also has a healthy balance of bacteria in the vagina. As the baby is delivered, he or she gets the good stuff from mom. By taking a probiotic even before she becomes pregnant, a woman can help to nourish a healthy microbiome to pass on to her child.
Caesarean Babies Lose Out On Healthy Microflora
Babies miss out on getting their mothers’ beneficial bacteria when they are born by caesarean section. Good bacteria help to support a healthy immune system, and this is one reason researchers believe that caesarean babies have higher rates of allergies, asthma, and gastrointestinal problems. Researchers have found that taking swabs of a mother’s microbes from the birth canal during labor, and wiping them on the baby’s skin as soon as he or she is born, can ensure the baby gets the right kinds of good bacteria.
Caesarean sections can cause problems for a mother’s gut bacteria as well. Women are routinely given antibiotics to prevent surgical infections. Antibiotics work broadly, destroying the good bacteria along with the bad. While infection is averted with the use of antibiotics, the ideal balance of gut bacteria is harmed.
Probiotics Are Beneficial For C-Section Moms
Probiotics can be helpful for moms who have c-sections. In one study, a probiotic containing two different strains of bacteria (Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus Rosell-11) was given to women with scheduled c-sections. All study participants were given antibiotics following their c-section to prevent infection; this is a fairly standard practice. In one group, the women received the probiotic beginning five to six days before the c-section, and continuing for ten days after the surgery. A second group of women received the probiotic beginning the day of surgery and continuing for ten days. A third group of women received no probiotic.
The women who were given probiotics beginning earlier had more balanced microflora compared to the other two groups.
Why The Right Bacterial Balance Is So Important
The right bacterial balance helps to keep the intestinal barrier healthy and promotes good digestion. Certain strains of good bacteria (probiotics) crowd out potentially harmful bacteria. Probiotics interact with and support the immune system in numerous ways.
Anyone can have a bacterial imbalance. In fact, there are some estimates that as many as 9 out of 10 people worldwide have unbalanced gut flora. For adults, this can lead to any number of health problems. For pregnant and new moms, a bacterial imbalance will influence the baby’s microbiome and put baby at risk for allergies, asthma, and more.
A healthy diet with plenty of soluble fiber and naturally fermented foods can help keep a woman’s microbiome healthy and balanced. There are times, though, when extra support is needed. Probiotics can help women to achieve healthy bacterial balance during any time of life.