Gut Health and Pregnancy

Written by Talita Sheedy from Lahlita Natural Medicine

Mum’s gut health would be THE MOST important factor for pregnancy. Not only is this the place that all the nutrients are absorbed for the quickly growing bub, but it is also one of the lines of defence to reduce toxic load, plus the all important and sometimes overlooked MICRO-BIOME that is essential for the baby’s immunity and future health.

Ensuring healthy digestive function and bacteria status, will assist with Mum’s comfort through pregnancy and also prepare to pass on the glorious and priceless strong immunity during the birth to the baby. Healthy micro-biome (bacteria) in the body is also important to build within Mum so she is able to pass on this illness-saving bacterium during breastfeeding.

Healthy micro-biome within the body benefits many functions and systems for both mum and bub, including:

  •  Strengthens Immunity- to help reduce the instance of baby catching infections and viruses, also reducing the period of time that he/she may be sick. Therefore reducing the instance of fever and need for antibiotics.

  • Digestive function – helping absorb needed nutrients from the intake of food or breast milk, fighting off pathogens that may enter the gut, assisting to build a strong gut lining that will in-turn improve immune function, ability to reduce toxin absorption and enhance gut-brain connection.

  • Nervous System / Cognition/ Behaviour – more and more studies are proving the connection between healthy gut and bacterial function in relation to mood/cognitive behaviour in children, and adults. Neurotransmitter receptors (serotonin and GABA) are found in the gut and without the correct digestive nourishment this can influence the nervous system and its functioning. With childhood behaviour issues and mental illness on the incline this aspect alone is enough to motivate any person to ensure their gut health is correctly attended to. Research shows if the gut function and micro-biome is negatively altered and unbalanced this will increase the risk of cognitive disorders.

Signs that mum may experience during pregnancy that her gut bacteria is struggling:

  • Bloating / pain before or after eating / flatulence / constipation / diarrhoea/ potent smelling bowel motions / undigested food in the stool / Candida Albicans (thrush) / discoloured vaginal mucous / poor immunity

What can you do to improve your gut health for pregnancy and bub?

  • Provide foods high in good bacteria to repopulate the gut: FERMENTED FOODS- sauerkraut, kimchi, natural yoghurt or coconut yoghurt (not containing sugar or fruit), kombucha

  • Provide Prebiotic foods: Dandelion greens, bananas (don’t overdo though as they are also high in sugar), garlic, onion, leek, cacao, slippery elm.

  • Reduce the stress of digesting foods: by supporting with Apple Cider Vinegar directly before meals, which will assist the breakdown of the foods consumed and increase the absorption of nutrients. This will also reduce the instance of food that hasn’t been digested correctly from building up and providing a breeding ground for bad bacteria.

  • Avoid sugar and sugar producing foods: these foods will feed the bad bacteria in your gut, to which you will then have yourself a war going on with the battle of your good bacteria trying to overrule the bad bacteria. Such foods: refined or processed sugars, and grains, plus fruits high in sugar.

  • Seek a practitioner: if you struggle with digestive complaints, skin conditions, poor immunity or any of the above symptoms it is best to seek a naturopath or holistic nutritionist that is able to help you correct your digestive function prior to pregnancy. This can help reduce the risk of complications and assist a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby growing. If you are already pregnant and struggling with what advise to take it is always recommended seeking an integrated practitioner who specialises in pregnancy or digestive disorders so they advise you correctly and individually to your specific needs.

Yours in Health,

Talita Sheedy BHSc NAT

Talita is a qualified naturopath, aromatherapist, yoga teacher and owner of Lahlita Natural Medicine on the Sunshine Coast. She's currently pregnant and is sharing her week by week pregnancy journey and naturopath's perspective over at her Holistic Pregnancy Blog