Mother’s First Gift: The Role of Microbiome in Pregnancy

A healthy baby is the answer to your hopes and dreams. You are now more capable of giving this gift to your child than ever before. Why? Moms have known about the importance of a proper diet for a long time, including several foods to avoid. And we have known to avoid alcohol and cigarettes. But with the advances in the frontiers of medicine, we can make even more informed decisions that will increase the likelihood of having a healthy baby and easy recovery. You are empowered by science regarding pregnancy and microbiome health.

Numerous studies state the importance of the mother’s healthy gut microbiome in the health of her child.

A balanced microbiome enables your body to manage your metabolism, immune system and overall health.1

Basically, your intestinal microbiota forms your child’s digestive system. Therefore it is vital that your microbiome is functioning optimally since you are literally transferring that microbiota to your child.

  • Avoiding antibiotics is one of the most important steps to maintaining this optimal microbiome. Antibiotic usage increases the risk of childhood allergies and a weakened immune system. There is evidence that microbial ecosystem does not return completely to baseline following treatment. Antibiotics in pregnancy should be used only when indicated, choosing those with the narrowest range possible.2
  • Obesity in the infant has been linked to an altered gut microbiome in the pregnant mom. In a recent study, excessive weight gain in the mom during pregnancy led to obesity in toddlers due to the “transmission of microbes from mother to child.”3
  • Good oral hygiene is imperative at this time in your life. Excessive bacteria and plaque can lead to overgrowth of potentially pathogenic bacteria.
  • Stress increases inflammation, which alters the gut microbiome. Of course, it’s practically impossible to avoid stress, but again be extra cautious now. Try “mommy yoga,” meditation – or whatever keeps your stress levels low.
  • As for prebiotic and probiotic supplementation, the answer is YES! According to a 2017 study, probiotics and synbiotics (a combination of probiotics) help maintain the gut lining. And this provides protection from bacteria and inflammation. If a state of an altered microbiome persists it increases the risk of pre-eclampsia, diabetes, infection, pre-term labor and colic. “Administration of enteral prebiotics, probiotics, and synbiotics during pregnancy, lactation, and postnatal life appears to be a safe and feasible method to alter the maternal and neonatal microbiome, thus improving pregnancy and neonatal outcomes.4

Implementing these changes increases your chances of having your hopes and dreams come true. My desire for you is optimal health at this time in your life. And a very healthy baby.

  1. Dunlop, A MD, et al. The Maternal Microbiome and Pregnancy Outcomes that Impact Infant Health: A Review. Adv Neonatal Care. 2015 Dec; 15(6): 377–385.
  2. Kuperman, A. Antibiotic use during pregnancy: how bad is it? BMC Med. 2016; 14: 91
  3. Galley, J, et al. Maternal Obesity is Associated with Alterations in the Gut Microbiome in Toddlers.
  4. Soon, K, et al. Prenatal and postnatal administration of prebiotics and probiotics. Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2017 Oct;22(5):284-289
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