An unhealthy gut can disrupt a pregnant woman’s health and cause problems that could harm the development of the unborn child. For instance, digestive issues and premature labour may be brought on by an unhealthy gut.
When a baby is delivered prematurely, they have health issues including respiratory issues that can be lethal. The health of both you and your unborn child depend on you as a mother taking good care of your gut during and after pregnancy.
A newborn’s health is largely dependent on their gut microbiome. Furthermore, a major factor influencing it is the maternal gut health. Your oral and intestinal flora transfers to your unborn child throughout a healthy pregnancy. The digestive system of your child is formed by your gut health and intestinal flora.
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In an interview with Zee English, Dr Debojyoti Dhar, Co-founder & Director, Leucine Rich Bio Pvt. Ltd shares why do pregnant women need to maintain a healthy gut here.
We understand the importance of a healthy diet for a pregnant and lactating woman in the growth and development of the newborn. Dr Debojyoti says, “It is for this reason that they are encouraged to eat a nourishing and balanced diet to support the requirements of the developing baby. But the gut (digestive tract) health of the mother has more to do than just fulfilling the nutritional requirement of the growing fetus.”
Our body is home to a gamut of microbes that constitute 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 mostly during delivery.
And interestingly, the gut microbiota is also supposed to influence the vaginal microbiota in the female. This is all the more reason for a pregnant woman to harbor healthy microbes in her gut.
Gut health and baby’s immunity
A woman’s gut microbiome changes during pregnancy, which may have an impact on how the baby’s immune system matures. It has been observed that babies born through c-section mode of delivery have a higher chance of growing up with allergies, asthma, or autoimmune diseases as compared to babies born through the normal vaginal mode of delivery.
A healthy mother’s gut therefore may influence healthier vaginal microbiota which in turn will impact the overall new born’s immune system. These microorganisms support the stimulation of immune cell formation, control of inflammation, and improvement of immunological responses.
How can a pregnant woman strengthen her gut?
Including foods that support gut health such as prebiotics and probiotics in one’s diet is a surefire way to a healthy microbiome.
Now, to know which probiotics and prebiotics a pregnant or lactating woman needs, she can simply undertake an at-home gut microbiome test such as that by Ombre (USA), Microba (Australia) and BugSpeaks (India) to get detailed information on her gut health. Based on the result furnished and the doctor’s recommendation, a pregnant or lactating woman can incorporate foods that are bound to give results in their case.
“The gut health of a pregnant or lactating woman has a great influence on not only the mother’s health but also the health of the newborn. A healthy gut harbors beneficial microorganisms that affect how our metabolism works,” Dr Debojyoti concludes.
While having a balanced gut is important for all, the need becomes all the more important for pregnant and lactating women as their gut microbiome significantly affects the health of the newborn. The gestation and early years of life predominantly shape the development of a healthy human.
Tips To Keep Gut Healthy During Pregnancy
Eat Food That Contains Probiotics
Probiotics improve digestion, intestinal health, and the immune system, according to scientists. Foods like Kefir, apple cider vinegar, and kombucha all contain probiotics. Yoghurt is helpful because it is high in probiotics and helps you stay hydrated.
Avoid Food Packaged In Plastic
Although following this advice might be difficult, the entire family and the unborn child can actually benefit from it. Use glass storage containers to keep your food fresh rather than plastic ones. Glass retains food for a long time and doesn’t allow harmful substances to contaminate your food and beverages.
Additionally, since they prevent probiotics from working properly, meals containing chemicals, artificial sweeteners, and food colours are bad for your gut health.
Most individuals are aware of the need of drinking enough water to keep their skin, hearts, brains, muscles, and joints healthy. Some people might not understand the significance of water for gut health, though.
If you find it difficult to drink plain water when pregnant, you can choose to add some natural flavours like ginger, mint, or lemon to change the taste. To improve your water consumption, eat more water-rich foods like watermelon, cucumber, tomatoes, or celery.
Knowing your gut microbiome with a simple at-home test kit is one way to be informed about the gut microbiome. Consuming foods that support a balanced gut by consulting your doctor for personalized diet recommendations is a must during pregnancy and lactation.
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