Since becoming pregnant I’ve been very focused on making sure that my gut has a good balance of beneficial bacteria, otherwise known as a healthy gut flora. I’m aware that my gut flora will be passed on to my baby at birth and during breast-feeding, and that this will form the foundation of his or her gut for the rest of his or her life. I thought I’d write this article on why healthy gut flora is so important during (and before) pregnancy, and what you can do to make sure your baby gets the best start at a healthy gut.
Why is a healthy gut flora during pregnancy so important for healthy children?
Healthy gut flora is the foundation of a healthy gut. A healthy gut:
- Provides optimal digestion of food that comes into the digestive tract
- Neutralises many environmental toxins that our body comes into contact with
- Is essential for a healthy immune system, and helps our body defend itself against pathogens such as viruses and bacteria
- Helps us to avoid allergies, food intolerances/sensitivities and other conditions such as eczema and asthma
- Allows for optimal brain development and function. Gut function actually has an influence on cognitive development, poor gut flora is thought to contribute to the development of conditions such as dyspraxia, dyslexia, autism and attention issues.
What contributes to poor gut flora?
- Antibiotic use
- The contraceptive pill
- Poor diet – especially containing lots of processed carbohydrates and sugar
How to ensure your baby inherits healthy gut flora:
- Make sure your gut flora is healthy with a diet low in processed foods and containing lots of fermented foods and probiotics.
- Have a vaginal birth if possible.
- Breastfeed your baby if possible.
- If you suspect that your gut flora isn’t as healthy as it should be, if a vaginal birth or breast feeding aren’t possible, or if you or your baby are administered antibiotics around the time of giving birth, then probiotics can be given to your baby after it Is born.
For help with establishing and maintaining healthy gut flora before and during pregnancy talk to your practitioner.