The Role of #Probiotics in #Pregnancy, #Childbirth & #Breastfeeding
As mothers, we hold the wondrous potential to build, form & create health for our children in utero and beyond.
This reality, sobering and humbling to moms, loved ones, and society in general, is best governed, balanced with love and knowledge...not fear. Having been pregnant a few times, I've found the prenatal and childbearing industry (an unfortunate term) generally regulated by fear, fear of lawsuits, lack of health, injury and so on. Most of the time, the fear projected on moms comes from an outside source, in an effort to manipulate the choices or understanding of what is taking place in her body. I've experienced this and have doubted my resolve and positioning at times. I've come to understand that the fear that this industry is based on, the ones loved one's project...comes from their lack of control of the entire process whether it is based on financial gain or genuine concern. I believe a healthy balance of LOVE and KNOWLEDGE is the best way to govern the responsibility a gestating mom carries as she nourishes her unborn in a brave attempt to provide her child(ren) with their ultimate birthright...health.
With out-of-control health care costs and generally poor health in abundance here in America, it is absolutely vital to assess our culture, lifestyle, and diet. When you consider that we, as a society and consumers, no longer have control over the process of seeding, farming, harvesting our food, the many issues we face with the final product found in mainstream stores shouldn't be surprising. Many of foods we purchase and consume are filled with pesticides, preservatives, antibiotics, trans-fat (hydrogenated oils) artificial colors, flavors, scents, vitamins and genetically modified ingredients to meet the ease and bottom line of mega-corporations. What we are left with as consumers are food-like products devoid of nutrients needed for a healthy life.
Are Pregnancy-Related Diseases Diet-Related?
My first two pregnancies were healthy, but conventional, in the modern medical sense. And as an African-American, I was always encouraged to get more tests for genetic conditions, without considering my individual state of health. I find this practice lacking, unprofessional and borderline prejudicial. I remember going in for tests, freaking out that I could "catch" a pregnancy condition, such as gestational diabetes. However, studies show that vitamin D deficiency correlates with preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Serotonin, a vital neurotransmitter, and protein… or the lack of is also linked to gestational diabetes.
"The surprise discovery could lead to simple dietary solutions and possible therapeutics for the disorder known as gestational diabetes, which if untreated, has serious implications for both mother and child. It also offers new insights into possible ways to reverse non-gestational diabetes in its early stages, the researchers say."It is very interesting to note that 95% of the serotonin is produced in the G.I. tract.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news196855770.html#jCp
There is no doubt a healthy diet that supports conditions for healthy gut flora is also vital while pregnant. Nutrient-dense, REAL food often comes in forms of unprocessed, unheated, organic, chemical & additive-free COULD play a preventative role. Yet, ironically, nutritional counseling does not play a big part of modern prenatal care, other than a prescription of prenatal vitamins, which...whether food-based or chemical-based, does little-to-nothing for the nutritional needs of a gestational mom. You can read why I no longer support commercialized and synthetic multivitamins at this link. >>> "True Nutrition" Genetics can absolutely play a role in pregnancy-related conditions, however, far too often it becomes a default answer or explanation without looking at care from a nutritional aspect. This is due to the fact that doctors (unless specifically trained) are generally not knowledgeable about nutrition. They are typically trained to offer surgery and drugs as solutions. And sometimes, this training can come at the hands (and studies) of pharmaceutical companies who have a financial invested stake in seeing their drugs being purchased. Does this lend certain biases toward un-patentable, natural, plant-based, earth-sourced nutrition in the medical community? I believe so.
The Unhealthy Gut Trend
Gut health issues and concerns are on the rise in American society. Could this because of the processed food, and food-like products loaded with pesticides, antibiotics, and hormone-disrupting chemicals rampant in the food industry? I believe yes. Research indicates healthy gut flora can be disrupted by these factors as well as many others.
Because pregnancy and babies are new beginnings, let's look at the bacteria kingdom, the base of life. Did you know that the bacteria in our gut outnumber our cells by 100 trillion? It can easily be said that we are 90% microbial! Considering this, it is important to evaluate the importance of gut health and what bacteria, namely probiotics (for life) mean to a gestating mom and her babe.
Probiotics not limited to the defense and offense of unfriendly bacteria.
They create beneficial compounds and essential nutrients.
⧫ Lactic Acid
⧫ B Vitamins
⧫ Digestive Enzymes
⧫ Interferon like factors,
⧫ Vitamin K
⧫ Essential Fatty Acids.
Probiotics and Pregnancy
Expectant moms should make a commitment to eating real, nutrient-dense food in addition to supplementing this diet with a high quality probiotic. Probiotics are necessary to break down nutrients and make them available to the body, therefore, the healthiest diet in the world means nothing, if the gut flora is lacking in this regard. Additionally, research suggests the composition of a woman's gut changes each trimester to support the growing fetus. According to Dr. Mercola, each person's "community of gut flora is unique" and the groundwork is laid from birth. A maternal welfare clinic in Turku, Finland composed a double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the impact of a probiotic-supplemented diet on pregnancy, prenatal and postnatal growth. The study with 191 participants wanted to see if probiotics had any impact on Gestational Diabetes Mellitus. Key findings showed that the probiotic group had significantly reduced the rate of GDM. The study utilized two strains of probiotics that are patented Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Bifidobacterium lactis which may be known as B. Animalis or BB-12. It is not clear in the study which strain is specifically used, as some companies have claims on some of these (sub)strains. While the results of these studies appear favorable towards the action of probiotics and GDM, long-term effects of safety concerns relating to a designer or modified strains haven’t been established. I expound a bit more on this further in the article.
Probiotics and ChildbirthProbiotics have been found to balance and support the vaginal eco-system. The popular belief in the scientific community is that the baby's gut in utero is sterile. Traveling through the vaginal canal gives the baby his or her gut flora. In an interview with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride of a GAPS nutritional program, she shares this...
"As far as science knows, the baby inside the mother's womb during nine months of gestation is sterile. The baby's gut is sterile. The baby acquires its gut flora at the time of birth, when the baby goes through the birth canal of the mother. So whatever lives in mom's birth canal, in mom's vagina, becomes the baby's gut flora.Understanding this places an important emphasis on vaginal childbirth. Unfortunately, this emphasis is not necessarily reinforced in our modern childbirth industry.
So what lives in mom's vagina? It's a very richly populated area of a woman's body. The vaginal flora comes from the bowel. So if the mother has abnormal gut flora, she will have abnormal flora in her birth canal. Fathers are not exempt because fathers also have gut flora, and that gut flora populates their groin and they share their groin flora with the mother on a regular basis.
Do High Cesarean Rates Contribute to the Poor Gut Trend?
Hovering near the 33% mark nationwide, Cesarean Sections remain the third most commonly performed surgery and deemed unnecessary in many instances. To grasp how high this number is, WHO (World Health Organization) recommends a cesarean rate of only 15%. This number varies from state to state, hospital to hospital and can range from 22% (Alaska) to 40% (Louisiana).
When Cesareans are unnecessary, what does this mean for the babies born in this way? The Science Daily shares their insight based on a recent study.
"Within the bacterial categories however, enormous diversity exists. Each individual's community of gut microbes is unique and profoundly sensitive to environmental conditions, beginning at birth. Indeed, the mode of delivery during the birthing process has been shown to affect an infant's microbial profile.
Communities of vaginal microbes change during pregnancy in preparation for birth, delivering beneficial microbes to the newborn. At the time of delivery, the vagina is dominated by a pair of bacterial species, Lactobacillus and Prevotella. In contrast, infants delivered by caesarean section typically show microbial communities associated with the skin, including Staphylococcus, Corynebacterium, and Propionibacterium. While the full implications of these distinctions are still murky, evidence suggests they may affect an infant's subsequent development and health, particularly in terms of susceptibility to pathogens."
Breastfeeding and ProbioticsStudies show that breast milk does not merely play a nutritive role, but a protective one. The presence of oligosaccharides, prevalent and pre-existing in breast milk, curiously, is only partially digested in the small intestine where it goes on to stimulate and feed the presence of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the gut... picked up through the birth process, thereby establishing the foundation of gut flora for life right after birth. Interestingly, oligosaccharides are one the main components in breast milk and are found naturally in plants. Cow's milk does not have oligosaccharides. Taking a high quality probiotic, daily while nursing can be a wonderful reinforcement of this protective role.
Purchase With Caution
Nutrition and health have become a marketable commodity and many times consumers can’t (or don’t) distinguish food from products or food-like products from real food. In this vein, probiotic products are no different. Many in the marketplace are patented, trademarked and commercialized for profit. In order to own a new strain for profit, the strain must be “new”, in other words not found in nature. Altering a strain through genetic modification can change the expressions of the physiological traits owing to the live nature of the strain. Are genetically modified strains safe?? How do these live, altered strains influence your intestinal microbiome? Considering that 3.3 million genes are found in the G.I tract from the microorganisms living there, man-made, altered strains, do not sit well with me. Since GMO labeling is still not a reality, it is truly difficult to ascertain natural strains (naturally occurring/cross-breeding without genetic material or structure being changed) from GE strains. In addition, simply because a probiotic is labeled as one, doesn’t necessarily mean it actually is a probiotic. As it stands, there is no legally sanctioned definition of what a probiotic is. According to Dr. Mary Ellen Sanders, Ph.D., an expert in this field…
“Probiotics are live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. The evidence for the impact of probiotics on diverse end points of human health is mounting, driving the commercial development of products containing them. Subcategories of the general term probiotic include probiotic drug (intended to cure, treat, or prevent disease), probiotic food (which includes foods, food ingredients, and dietary supplements), direct-fed microbial (probiotics for animal use), and designer probiotic (genetically modified probiotics). As there is no legal definition for the term probiotic, products labeled “probiotic” on the market may not have been adequately characterized for content, stability, or health effects.“Dr. Sanders suggests that in order for a probiotic to be considered as one, it must confer a health benefit to the host and be “safe under the intended conditions of use”. She offers these factors to consider for safety:
- The Inherent property of the microbe
- The physiologic status of the consumer
- The dose administered
- The possibility that the probiotic could be a potential source of genes in the gastrointestinal tract environment that could be transferred to less innocuous members of the colonizing microbiota by horizontal gene transfer.
My Probiotic Pregnancy
For the first time, after seven pregnancies, I’ve incorporated a probiotic in my prenatal regimen. ALL of my pregnancies and births have been normal, healthy and blessed. When expecting my seventh child, I got rid of commercialized prenatal vitamins, incorporated sole in my prenatal diet, and declared that to be the healthiest pregnancy and child, I’ve experienced thus far. I stand corrected. My eighth child will be arriving soon and to say this experience has been usual is an understatement.
I have absolutely zero cravings. None. This concept is mind-boggling to me. Each pregnancy, with a slight exception of my last, I’ve had cravings for chocolate, sweets, salt etc. From the beginning until now, I’ve not had one preferred comfort food. Cravings are the body’s way of letting you know what it needs. This tells me my nutritional needs are being met. I’m not even hungry very often. When I am, I eat raw, whole nutrient-rich food. My body simply will not allow me to consume anything else. I become nauseous and feel icky when I eat too much-cooked foods.
I’m losing weight. My weight gain steadily increased the first two trimesters, plateaued and then declined. Meanwhile, my fundal height (height of uterus) measures quite large for my estimated gestational age. In other words, I’m losing weight while my babe is gaining and growing!
I have a super active, strong babe. In comparison to my previous experiences, this little one has powerful kicks, movement, and energy that has my husband and I completely amazed. I expect this baby to come out break-dancing. Really.
I’ve no bleeding gums. Bleeding gums have been a trademark of my pregnancies. Not once have I experienced this. As a matter of fact, my dental health has improved. These past few months I’ve lost plague that has been stuck in my teeth for the past decade or so. I attribute this to my diet and the toothpaste I switched to nearly two years ago.
No gassiness and bloating. Being gassy and bloated are also trademarks. I’ve experienced very little gassiness and no bloating. I’ve no puffy, pregnant face, nor have I experienced swollen feet. The only time my feet swell is if I’m on my feet for long periods of time. My skin remains clear of acne/blemishes in spite of the pregnancy hormones.
The only discomforts I’m experiencing is an overactive growing babe and nausea when smell and SEE processed/fake foods!
Preparing The Way to a Good Gut
I’ve learned so much over the years and from my personal experiences. I’m humbled and blessed to be able to apply my wisdom and watch the fruit of my labor, literal and figuratively speaking, unfold. My pregnancy diet consists of five daily supplements I’ve deemed important: Sole, Spirulina/Protein, Red Raspberry leaf (a tea or tincture) and Probiotic.
InLiven Probiotic Superfood is the only product I trust & utilize in my effort create a wholesome pathway for my soon-to-be-newborn. Not only does it contain the entire Lactobacillus family (13 strains), all of them are naturally occurring, nonGMO and certified organic. After doing lots of research in 2013, I began my online site featuring this and other certified organic, food-grade products. I’ve been taking InLiven since and throughout my pregnancy. I personally know the owner and manufacturer (Narelle Chenery) of InLiven and have had the honor of mentoring with the creator (Czerral Wheeler) of InLiven before his passing in November of 2014. All this leads to my confidence in using, recommending and promoting these superior, authentic probiotic supplements.
Ellen Laham Dart states that babies are coated with microbes and bacteria in the vaginal secretions that are ultimately ingested through the baby’s skin! My goal is to rub a bit of FastTract, the liquid, gluten-free version of InLiven on my newborn’s back, arms and legs to reinforce the vaginal gulp process! I highly suggest you read Ms. Dart’s informative article, The Vaginal Gulp.
This article was written in memory of Czerral Wheeler. His wisdom, expertise, and passion are truly missed. Hear Czerral share his wisdom on Probiotics and Pets. >>> Listen to the call here.
Information and products presented in this article is given in an informative and opinion-based format and should not be used to diagnose, cure or treat any diseases and should not take the place of a doctor’s care. Similarly, products recommended here are offered for sale on TheOliveParent Organics shop. Experiences outlined here are my own and should be considered bio-individual. To learn more about the products contact me via the contact box on the sidebar.
Ferguson, Elaine R. M.D., Superhealing: Engaging Your Mind, Body, and Spirit to Create Optimal Health and Well-Being, Health Communications, Inc. Deerfield Beach, FL., 2013