As with most nutritional and health decisions, you should speak with you physician or obstetrician to discuss if taking probiotics during pregnancy is right for you. Most research suggests that probiotics can have beneficial effects for mother and infant. Probiotics contain live cultures of helpful bacteria or nutrients that support the growth of good microorganisms in the body. Many foods naturally contain probiotics or are fortified with them, so it is likely that you will ingest some probiotics during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, there are many changes to a woman's body. Some of these, such as vaginosis and diarrhea, may be treated with probiotics. If a doctor prescribes antibiotics to cure a bacterial infection, it may also kill off good bacteria. The doctor may also prescribe probiotics to encourage the recovery of helpful microorganisms. Some research suggests that probiotics during pregnancy alongside nutritional counseling may help to reduce the occurrence of post-pregnancy obesity.
There is some debate on the effectiveness of taking probiotics during pregnancy to help reduce the risk of preterm labor. Some researchers suggest that these supplements help to maintain normal bacteria balances in the female reproductive system that may otherwise be skewed. The theory is that by protecting the new mother from infections, the vagina will not be irritated enough to trigger labor prematurely. Other researchers believe that probiotics have no proven effect on preterm labor.
The unborn baby may also benefit from probiotics during pregnancy. Some studies have shown that probiotic foods and supplements help to deliver babies of healthy weight. They may also be responsible for reduced incidence of allergic conditions or skin disorders such as eczema in newborns. The presence of probiotics in a newborn may also encourage the development of a strong, healthy immune system while fending off allergies.
There are several natural and supplemental sources of probiotics. You may choose to take probiotcs during pregnancy in the form of fermented foods such as yogurt, tempeh, or sauerkraut. If you choose an over-the-counter probiotic supplement, be sure to read all information available on the medication and reviews from previous users. Some products claim more benefit than they actually produce. You can ask your obstetrician or nutritionist to prescribe a probiotic for you.
There is a chance that some women who take probiotics during pregnancy may develop bacterial infections. This is especially true if the woman has a compromised immune system or other unrelated illness. If you are lactose-intolerant, you should carefully examine the ingredient list of supplements since many probiotics are cultured in milk products.