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Benefits of Probiotics for Moms and Breastfeeding Infants

probiotics mothers babies infants kids

You’ll never see them, but your gastrointestinal tract is home to trillions of microscopic organisms that help to keep your body healthy. The gut, which has more than 400 different forms of beneficial bacteria, needs probiotics to help support the immune system and stay regular.

Is It Safe to Take Probiotics While Breastfeeding?

    Maintaining your health during pregnancy and breastfeeding is vital for you and your growing infant. But can you take probiotics while breastfeeding? The answer is yes. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), there is not risk to your health or your children health if you take probiotics while you are expecting or are breastfeeding[1].

    5 Benefits for Pregnant Mothers Taking Probiotics

    1. Urinary Tract Infections

    Women get urinary tract infections more often in men due to their anatomy. The urethra in women is shorter than the urethra in men. Furthermore, in women the urethra is located within the vulva and is exposed to the microbes of the vagina. A healthy vagina is actually full of Lactobacillus probiotics which help it to have a lower, acidic pH. This pH makes it inhospitable to bad bacteria such as: UTI causing bacteria like E. coli, bacterial vaginosis causing Gardnerella vaginalis, and yeast infection causing Candida. Studies have shown lower incidences of UTIs in women taking probiotics[2].

    2. Immune health

    The majority of immune cells are actually located in the gut as that is where the most bacteria are located in. Taking probiotics helps support a healthy immune system by having an anti-inflammatory effect.

    3. Normalizing gut health and bowel movement

    Probiotics are also play an important role in normalizing bowel movements and are used to reduce the length and duration of diarrhea and can reduce symptoms of those that are chronically constipated.

    4. Reducing Nausea

    Nausea can be caused by a number of things including irritation of the gut lining. Irritation of the gut lining causes it to release signaling molecules such as histamine which is sensed by the brain. Taking probiotics may provide relief by reducing irritation and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and help you feel less nauseated[3].

    5. Mood Support

    If the gut is exposed to microbes that cause inflammation it will produce inflammatory signaling molecules. The inflammatory response causes blood vessels and cellular junctions to become leakier to attract immune cells to the site of inflammation. Inflammatory signals produced by irritated cells are known to leak into the bloodstream and affect the entire body, including the brain. Some have coined this term “leaky gut syndrome” and studies show that inflammation can be the cause of some symptoms of depression such as loss of appetite, low mood, and difficulty sleeping[4]. Probiotics can help to support healthy mood by lowering systemic inflammation levels.

    6 Probiotic Benefits for Babies

    1. Reduced atopy (allergies)

    One of the main benefits of a mother taking a probiotic supplement while she is pregnant is that it may reduce a baby's incidence of allergies during childhood and later in life. An infant acquires his or her initial intestinal flora from the mother’s birth canal[5] during birth. If the mother’s microbiome is unbalanced, so will the baby's microbiome. This initial bacterial colonization is crucial because it sets the stage for the maintenance of a stable balance of intestinal flora throughout adult life[6].

    The earliest colonizing bacteria include Escherichia, and Enterococcus, which will help to develop the right environment for other beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacteria[7].  Women who take a probiotic supplement during pregnancy may reduce their child’s risk of conditions such as asthma[8] and eczema[9], while also boosting the child’s immune system[10].

    2. Baby’s Immune System

    Taking a probiotic with Lactobacillus acidophilus[11], Lactobacillus brevis[12], and Lactobacillus helveticus[13] will inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria which can weaken the digestive and immune systems. When passed on in breast milk, they can have the same benefits for your growing child.

    3. Keeping Colic at Bay

    Around 25 percent of babies suffer from colic[14] during the first six months of their lives. It can be a very distressing condition for mothers and babies. Many clinical researchers believe that colic may be caused by lactose intolerance, allergies, or an imbalance of healthy bacteria found in the infant’s digestive system[15] Studies show that probiotics, particularly Bifidobacterium longum can help reduce the risk of colic in babies[16]. Introducing a probiotics supplement into your diet can help strengthen your child’s resistance to said illness.

    4. Reducing Constipation and Diarrhea

    Although it is not common, infant constipation can be caused by allergies or a growing digestive system that is not populated by healthy microflora. Nursing mothers who are taking a probiotic supplement containing strains such as Lactobacillus reuteri[17] can help their infants avoid constipation and diarrhea because the beneficial bacteria aid the breakdown of food and the absorption of nutrients, keeping bowel movements regular[18].

    5. Probiotics Produce Vitamins

    Pregnant and nursing mothers need vitamin B. During pregnancy, it can help prevent morning sickness and help with healthy development of the baby’s brain and nervous system[19]. An infant needs B vitamins to metabolize milk properly and to enhance their nervous and immune systems.  Probiotics such as L. helveticus, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Lactobacillus casei can help produce B vitamins[20]. Probiotics also produce Vitamin K which is essential for blood clotting. Your body cannot make Vitamin K and must get it from probiotics.

    6. Yeast and Diaper Rash Problems

    If your baby is taking antibiotics, or you are taking antibiotics while breast feeding, both you and your child are more susceptible to yeast infections. The reason for this is that as well as killing the harmful bacteria, antibiotics also kill the good bacteria that prevent overgrowth of yeast. Without the presence of this beneficial microflora, yeast can flourish. This may lead to a yeast diaper rash. If you or your child are taking antibiotics, you can help lower the chances of getting this by taking a probiotic supplement that contains sources such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus Bifidobacterium both of which inhibit the growth of yeast[21]. ­Make sure to take your probiotic supplement at least two hours after your antibiotics to avoid the beneficial bacteria being killed by the medication.

    Probiotics for Breastfeeding Moms

    Prebiotics are types of food or food ingredients which help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the GI tract. They nourish beneficial bacterial and help them thrive. Prebiotics consist of indigestible plant fibers, also known as oligosaccharides. As they pass through the stomach without being affected by stomach acid, prebiotics stimulate beneficial changes throughout the digestive tract by providing nutrient sources to beneficial bacteria that live in the gut and intestines. Along with probiotics, prebiotics play an important role in supporting digestive and immune health. Natural sources of prebiotics include:

    • Garlic
    • Chicory root
    • Cooked or raw onions
    • Raw jicama
    • Asparagus
    • Jerusalem artichokes
    • Oats
    • Barley
    • Bananas
    • Apples
    • Flaxseed

    Prebiotics can also be taken in the form of a supplement to enhance the benefits of probiotics. There are also supplements known as synbiotics, which combine prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are safe to use when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

    The problem is, with time your delicate micro bacteria ecosystem can become unbalanced and the bad bacteria can take over. Levels of probiotics in people’s gut tends to decline with age and can worsen if:

    1. You don’t maintain a healthy diet. Probiotics love fiber but our food supply has become so processed that most of the fiber is taken out before food makes it into your mouth. Not only that but what you drink also impacts your gut microbes. Studies have shown that switching from sugary beverages to low-calorie diet beverages has vast effects on the gut microbiome.
    2. You have recently been ill. Illness wreaks havoc on our immune system. Diets undergo drastic changes and mobility is limited. These kinds of sudden changes to your lifestyle can impact the probiotics in your gut.
    3. You’ve recently taken a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed during pregnancy. Between 15-35% of pregnant women are colonized by Group B Strep (GBS) bacteria.Fortunately, you can prevent this from happening by taking a probiotic supplement that is abundant in gut-friendly microorganisms.

    There are some foods which contain beneficial probiotics for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, such as:

    • Yogurt
    • Kombucha
    • Miso
    • Kefir
    • Sauerkraut
    • Fermented pickles
    • Fermented sour cream

    Even if you eat foods containing probiotics, you may want to consider taking a probiotic supplement, so you can be sure that you are getting the optimal number of natural bacteria.

    Probiotics for Breastfeeding Moms

    Nexabiotic Multi Probiotic for Women helps women ensure that they have best probiotics for themselves and their infants. The probiotics in Nexabiotic Multi-Probiotic will colonize both the mother as well as the child during childbirth.  You can especially help you protect your newborn if you have been taking a probiotic supplement during pregnancy and continue to take it while you are nursing. This is because you can pass on the beneficial bacteria to your baby, via your breast milk[22]. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you continue to breastfeed your baby for at least the first six months of their life. This is because breast milk is much better for your baby than formula. It contains all the nutrients that are vital for your growing child during the first six months of life. Breast milk is also rich in substances that help stave of disease and infection and boost your child’s immune system. Breastfeeding for at least the first six months can protect your baby.

    Probiotic Powder for Baby

    If you've already given birth and did not use probiotics don’t worry! Nexabiotic Probiotic Powder for babies and kids can provide your little one with the probiotics they need to have a healthy immune system. The capsules in Nexabiotic Probiotic Powder are conveniently pre-dosed capsules with 23 different species of probiotics that you can open, empty, and mix into water, formula, milk, or food. Nexabiotic Multi-Probiotic may help babies have right balance of intestinal microflora by providing Lactobacillus acidophilus, which helps to support a healthy immune system[9], and Bifidobacterium infantis, which is one of the earliest colonizers of babies.