An unhealthy intestine can disrupt the health of a pregnant woman and cause problems that could harm the development of the unborn child. For example, digestive problems and premature labor can be caused by an unhealthy gut.
When a baby is born prematurely, he has health problems, including breathing problems that can be fatal. Your health and that of your unborn child depends on you, as a mother, taking good care of your gut during and after pregnancy.
A newborn’s health largely depends on his gut microbiota. Additionally, a major factor that influences it is maternal gut health. Your oral and intestinal flora are passed on to your unborn child throughout a healthy pregnancy. Your child’s digestive system is shaped by your gut health and gut flora.
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In an interview with Zee English, Dr. Debojyoti Dhar, Co-Founder and Director, Leucine Rich Bio Pvt. Ltd explains why pregnant women need to maintain a healthy gut here.
We understand the importance of a healthy diet for a pregnant and breastfeeding woman in the growth and development of the newborn. Dr Debojyoti says: “It is for this reason that they are encouraged to adopt a nutritious and balanced diet to meet the needs of the developing baby. But the mother’s intestinal (digestive tract) health has more to do than just meet the nutritional needs of the growing fetus.
Our bodies are home to a range of microbes that make up what is known as our microbiome. These could be both: good and bad. It is now understood that the newborn acquires the microbes present in the mother’s body mainly during childbirth.
And curiously, the intestinal microbiota is also thought to influence the vaginal microbiota in women. All the more reason for a pregnant woman to harbor healthy microbes in her gut.
Baby’s gut health and immunity
A woman’s gut microbiota changes during pregnancy, which can impact the maturation of the baby’s immune system. It has been observed that babies born by caesarean section are more likely to grow up with allergies, asthma or autoimmune diseases than babies born through the normal vaginal route.
A healthy mother’s gut can therefore influence a healthier vaginal microbiota which, in turn, will impact the newborn’s overall immune system. These microorganisms support stimulation of immune cell formation, control of inflammation and enhancement of immunological responses.
How can a pregnant woman strengthen her gut?
Including foods that promote gut health such as prebiotics and probiotics in your diet is a surefire way to have a healthy microbiome.
Now, to find out what probiotics and prebiotics a pregnant or breastfeeding woman needs, she can simply undertake a home gut microbiome test like the one from Ombre (USA), Microba (Australia) and BugSpeaks (India) to get detailed information about her gut health. Based on the result provided and the doctor’s recommendation, a pregnant or breastfeeding woman can incorporate foods that may work for her.
“The intestinal health of a pregnant or breastfeeding woman has a great influence not only on the health of the mother, but also on that of the newborn. A healthy intestine is home to beneficial microorganisms that affect the functioning of our metabolism”, concludes Dr. Debojyoti.
Although having a balanced gut is important for everyone, the need becomes all the more important for pregnant and breastfeeding women as their gut microbiota significantly affects newborn health. Gestation and the first years of life mainly shape the development of a healthy human being.
Tips for keeping the gut healthy during pregnancy
Eat foods that contain probiotics
Probiotics improve digestion, gut health and the immune system, scientists say. Foods like kefir, apple cider vinegar, and kombucha all contain probiotics. Yogurt is useful because it is rich in probiotics and helps keep you hydrated.
Avoid foods wrapped in plastic
Although following this advice can be difficult, the whole family and the unborn child can benefit from it. Use glass containers to keep your food fresh rather than plastic containers. Glass preserves food for a long time and does not allow harmful substances to contaminate your food and drink.
Also, because they prevent probiotics from working properly, meals containing chemicals, artificial sweeteners and food colorings are bad for gut health.
Most people are aware of the need to drink enough water to keep their skin, heart, brain, muscles and joints healthy. However, some people might not understand the importance of water for gut health.
If you find it difficult to drink plain water during pregnancy, you can choose to add natural flavors like ginger, mint or lemon to change the taste. To improve your water intake, eat more water-rich foods like watermelon, cucumber, tomatoes, or celery.
Knowing your gut microbiome with a simple home test kit is one way to be educated about the gut microbiome. Consuming foods that promote a balanced gut by consulting your doctor for personalized dietary recommendations is a must during pregnancy and breastfeeding.