Gut Health in Pregnancy

Gut Health in Pregnancy

When a woman becomes pregnant, the body goes through a myriad of changes to support the growth and birth of the baby. 

 

For example:
  • The immune system is suppressed: which is needed to house the baby in the womb
  • Hormones increase: for the baby to grow and develop
  • Slowed metabolism: to allow greater absorption of nutrients from food

All these things are altering the mother’s gut microbes along the way, continuing to fluctuate throughout the pregnancy. 

 

So why is the gut health of the mother so important?

  1. The mother’s microbes transfer to the baby and influence its health
  2. Absorption of nutrients: pregnancy and breastfeeding are very demanding and require extra nutrients. Eating healthy food while pregnant and also taking a multivitamin are great, but if you’re not absorbing them properly, then you’re not getting all you need. 

 

How do we best care for our gut during pregnancy?

 

Diet
  • Reduce sugar and highly processed foods, as these are inflammatory, hold no nutritional value and cause damage to the gut
  • Increase fresh and diverse nutrients in your diet
  • Fibre, lots of fibre from fruit and vegetables to keep things regular

 

Exercise

Exercise has been shown to diversify and increase microbes, so continuing with the exercise you have been doing or, if you haven’t been doing anything, now is as good a time as any to start. If you are starting, start with walking while pregnant; 20–30 minutes most days are great. 

 

Prebiotics

These are fibres our body cannot digest, and they feed healthy bacteria. Make sure you are consuming onions, leeks, garlic, bananas, asparagus, and artichokes, to name a few. 

 

Probiotics

Keeping up the numbers of the good guys in our gut. These are fermented foods such as yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha. 

 

Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are amazing during pregnancy. Many women often experience digestive discomfort during pregnancy, and taking a digestive enzyme may help. A pure digestive enzyme supplement that supports the absorption of nutrients and reduces digestive symptoms is the safest option.

 

Avoid Chemical Exposure

You have heard me talk about the effects of chemicals as hormone disruptors, and they also wreak havoc on our gut microbes. So if you haven’t started switching over to more natural products, now is the time. It’s especially important during pregnancy to avoid excess chemical exposure. 

This is especially important as new babies come, as these synthetic chemicals and fragrances also influence our baby’s health and can cause skin irritation and allergies. 

Where to start?
  • Never heat in plastic – use glass instead
  • Avoid harsh chemical cleaners opt for natural ingredients
  • Avoid home fragrances – switch to diffusers with essential oils
  • Avoid toxins in skincare and personal care products – use natural ingredient-based products. 

 

Optimise Vitamin D Levels

Ensure to get direct sunlight onto your skin as often as possible. This will help fight the viruses and support the immune system during pregnancy. 

 

Minimise Stress

Stress plays a major role in our digestion but has also been found to directly influence our gut microbiome. As we know, pregnancy can be a stressful time as our bodies are rapidly changing, adapting, and preparing for the new season.

Try pregnancy yoga/pilates, walks, meditation/prayer, making sure you have a strong community supporting you and those you can chat with about the changes going on, and calling out for help when needed. 

 

Avoid Excess Medication (look for natural alternatives)

Sometimes the quick fix is tempting, but most of these medications negatively influence the body’s natural processes and gut health. Therefore, consider choosing some natural alternatives to cold and flu medications, such as paracetamol or anti-inflammatories. 

 

Thinking about getting pregnant or already pregnant?

Working with a naturopath to fine-tune your supplements and get the best support for you and your bub is priceless. 

 

 

 

Love Alissa & Kristyn ❤

 

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