The second you announce that you’re expecting, the information starts flowing in from well-wishers everywhere—family, friends, co-workers and yes, even strangers. And with the onslaught of all that “advice,” it can be hard to separate the need to know from the nice to know and the inevitable, don’t want to know!
After all, we all react to the miracle of pregnancy differently, both emotionally and physically, and what works for one mom-to-be (pickled ice cream, anyone?) can be disastrous for another. But, there’s one aspect of pregnancy that doctors, experts, and moms everywhere can agree on: the importance of gut health.
That’s right, it turns out that during pregnancy, your digestive system (and the flora within it) is a much bigger deal than you thought. It influences your child’s lifelong immunity and can even affect your breast milk and postpartum recovery.
Here are eleven must-read stories that will bring you up to speed on pregnancy, gut health, and the critical importance of gut bacteria during pregnancy and while you nurse.
1. The Microbiome Begins at Birth: An Interview with Documentary Filmmaker Toni Harman
Childbirth is a wondrous process, but you may be surprised just how much is going on beneath the microscope when you give birth (hint: it’s all about bacteria), and how it affects your newborn bundle of joy.
2. How Pregnancy Alters a Woman’s Gut Microbes
You aren’t the only one nesting as you eagerly await the arrival of your baby—your gut bacteria are cleaning house and making changes, too!
3. Why Prenatal Vitamins and Probiotics Go Hand in Hand
Prenatal vitamins are crucial for a healthy pregnancy, but they may not be doing you (or your wallet) much good if you can’t absorb the nutrients. That’s why a high-quality probiotic formula can help you make the most of your prenatal supplement.
4. The Miracle of the Infant Microbiome
Ever wonder why it’s so important for you to have a healthy gut during pregnancy? It’s not just your DNA that you’re passing on to your little one—your microbes may be the most important inheritance you’ll ever give!
5. Premature Infants: Our Story and How Tiny Microbiomes Make a Big Difference
You think you have nine months to prepare for your baby’s arrival, but what if your baby comes before their due date...days, weeks, or months early? Skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding, and your healthy microbiome can get your preemie off to a great start.
6. Optimize Your Breast Milk by Focusing on Your Gut
Did you know that your breast milk is full of beneficial bacteria that originate in your gut? Take care of the friendly flora in your gut to supercharge your milk with life-supporting microbes.
7. Breast Milk and B. Infantis: Nature’s Favorite Probiotic
Studies show breast milk is brimming with special sugars designed to selectively feed one tiny superhero bacterial strain—Bifidobacterium Infantis—that supports infant gut health and brain development.
8. The Importance of a Virgin Gut: Breastfeeding Is More Essential Than We Thought
You likely already know how important breastfeeding is for your baby’s health and development, but did you know that exclusively breastfeeding (and we’re not kidding when we say exclusive; no formula, water, or juice either!) for the first six months does wonders for your baby’s lifelong health?
9. How to Support Your Baby's Immune System When Breastfeeding Isn't an Option
No matter how hard you try, sometimes breastfeeding just isn’t possible. But don’t worry...even if you can’t nurse your baby, you can still take major steps to build their microbiome for a solid foundation of health.
10. When Your Birth Plan Doesn’t Go As Planned
Let’s face it—we can’t all have perfect, peaceful, natural home births. Fortunately, with a little flexibility and a lot of love, you can make the most of your baby’s birth (however it unfolds) to support their foundation of health.
11. The One Crucial Health Factor You Shouldn’t Overlook During Pregnancy
Preparing your body to nurture a baby during pregnancy is more than just popping a prenatal vitamin and calling it good—including plenty of beneficial bacteria in your regimen is crucial for optimal health for both mom and baby.
It’s clear that cultivating a healthy gut during pregnancy and lactation is the first step towards building your baby’s life-supporting microbiome. And once they’re born, breast milk continues to seed your baby’s gut with the beneficial bacteria they need to develop strong, healthy immune systems.
If you’re planning to breastfeed (and even if you’re not), we want to support you. Check out these incredible organizations that can help support, educate, and inspire you so that you feel empowered and encouraged to nourish your baby as nature intended.
Nursing Mothers Counsel (NMC)
NMC works to support breastfeeding mothers by providing one-on-one support, counseling, assistance, and education.
La Leche League International (LLLI)
LLLI is dedicated to helping mothers all over the world achieve their breastfeeding goals by offering education, information, encouragement, and mother-to-mother support.
Best for Babes Foundation
The Best for Babes Foundation is passionate about making sure moms feels empowered and educated to make informed decisions about breastfeed, and is dedicated to breaking down barriers to breastfeeding success.
Breastfeeding USA offers mother-to-mother support, evidence-based information on breastfeeding, and counseling with accredited counselors to nursing moms all over the United States.
World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA)
WABA is a global network of individuals and organizations dedicated to protecting the right to breastfeed all over the world. WABA provides education, resources, and advocacy, and has started several initiatives to empower and educate women, men, and kids on the importance of breastfeeding.
Emily Courtney is a Writer and Editor at Hyperbiotics and mom to two fun and active boys. Emily is passionate about natural wellness and helping others learn about the power of probiotics for vibrant health! For more ideas on how you can benefit from the power of probiotics and live healthier days, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.