Pregnancy causes many changes to your body, such as hormonal fluctuations, the production of milk, increase in blood volume, and immunological, metabolic and microbial changes in the gut microbiome. These changes are essential to your body to create the perfect environment you can offer your baby for the next ten months.
What is my Gut Microbiome?
Within our bellies we host a party of billions of living good and bad bacteria. Your baby during pregnancy isn’t the only live organism inside of you, and hasn’t been for a very long time!
This party of bacteria in your gut is known as your microbiome, and these little guys are also linked to the correct functioning of your immune system.
Your gut is always comprised of good and bad bacteria, but usually the good bacteria outweig the bad bacteria keeping gut health in check and working with the immune system to keep your body in good health.
What Changes occur to my Gut Microbiome during Pregnancy?
During pregnancy the gut stays relatively the same until the third trimester where the gut undergoes a dramatic change. By the third trimester the community of microbiota (good bacteria) in your gut alters to dysbiosis (good bacteria becomes out of balance).
A study by Koren, O et all, (2012), showed the gut became inflammatory during pregnancy which drives microbial dysbiosis, and weight gain due to metabolic syndrome. If you were not pregnant this would be abnormal, although during a pregnancy it is needed for the growth of the fetus.
You may find your gut microbiome isn’t the only thing that changes, as will your vaginal microbiome. An increased number of vaginal bacteria start to prepare themselves to help your baby’s own microbiome start as they enter the world.
These changes during pregnancy are not alarming as they are perfectly normal at this stage, and the gut will revert to its pre-pregnancy state after birth.
Gut Microbiome and Weight gain during Pregnancy
A mothers weight gain during pregnancy is affected by her microbiota. Having a healthy gut before pregnancy can help reduce the risk of becoming overweight or obese during pregnancy.
Collardo, M, C et al (2008), showed there was a difference in gut microbiota between overweight and normal weight women, showing with every kilogram of weight gain this increased bad bacteria. This is not a risk when pregnant as the gut will go back to normal after the pregnancy.
What can I do to Improve my Gut health during my Pregnancy?
Make sure you are getting enough of the following:
- B-complex vitamin (B-6 and B-12)
- Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale
- Fish such as salmon and mackerel
- Fresh meat
- Pre-biotic foods such as garlic, leek, onions, asparagus and bananas
- Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, miso and other fermented foods that you enjoy
Avoid the following:
- Processed meats
- Carbohydrates from corn and bread
- Too many apples, and grapes
- Dairy, the gut bacteria ferment the sugar component of milk lactase
- Foods high in sugar
Pre- and Probiotics help to keep your gut bacteria in balance, along with meditation and yoga. Talk to one of our nutritionists today for your best choice of a pre and probiotic for you.
Collado, M, C., Isolauri, E., Laitinen, K., Salminen, S (2012). Distinct composition of gut microbiota during pregnancy in overweight and normal-weight women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’ 88, 4, 894-899.
Koren, O., Goodrich, J, K., Cullender, T, C., Spor, A., Laitinen, K., Bäckhed, H, K., Gonzalez, A., Wener, J, J., Angenent, L, T., Knight, R., Bäckhed, F., Isolauri, E., Salminen, S., Ley, E, R. (2012). Host Remodeling of the Gut Microbiome and Metabolic Changes during Pregnancy. ‘Cell Press’ 150, 3, 470-480.