What is the Connection Between Pregnancy and Gut Health ?

So what actually is a Microbiome?

A microbiome is the term used to describe a community of microorganisms in a specific environment.

When discussing “the microbiome” we typically focus on our gut microbiome, which refers to the population of bacteria residing in our colon. This is also commonly known as our gut flora. Additionally, microbiomes exist in other areas of the body, such as the mouth, nose, and skin.

The term “microbiome” extends beyond the human body. If you have an interest in gardening, you may have encountered the term in relation to soil. A soil with a robust and healthy microbiome, promotes the strength and flourishing of vegetables and plants. Similarly, our bodies benefit from a thriving and healthy gut microbiome.

What does the Gut Microbiome do?

Gut Microbiome and Digestion:

In a healthy body, the number of bacteria surpasses that of human cells. Though it may seem overwhelming and unappealing, these bacteria’s play crucial roles in various bodily systems.

The primary function of the gut microbiome is aiding in digestion. A well-balanced microbiome ensures efficient processing and digestion of foods which enables nutrient absorption. Additionally, it contributes to excretion and detoxification, aiding in the removal of waste from the body.

When the microbiome comprises incorrect or imbalanced bacteria it can affect these processes. Digestion may slow down, leading to the accumulation and fermentation of foods. This can result in undesirable symptoms like bloating, constipation, gas, pain, brain fog, and even conditions such as IBS and SIBO. It may also contribute to issues like reflux, irregular bowel movements, and undigested food in the stool of infants and children.

The Gut Microbiome and the Nervous System:

Gut bacteria plays a crucial role in producing neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA, influencing mood, behavior, and sleep. This is especially vital for infants and young children, as well as parents who require quality sleep.

The Gut Microbiome and the Immune System:

The gut microbiome significantly influences the immune system, with approximately 70-80% of it residing in the gut. Prioritizing gut health before pregnancy or during cold and flu season becomes crucial for this reason.

The diverse bugs in the body’s various microbiomes act as the first line of defense. When an unwanted bacteria or virus enters the body, it often encounters the gut first. A well-populated gut with beneficial bacteria reduces the likelihood of these invaders establishing and replicating which lowers the chances of illness.


So what is the link between the Gut Microbiome and Preconception Care ?

Emphasizing gut health and the gut microbiome before attempting to conceive (preconception) is crucial for various reasons. This focus not only benefits your own health but also contributes to the well-being of your future baby.

The gut health of both parents plays a role in the conception of a baby. The mother’s gut health is particularly significant as she will be carrying the baby. Supporting her gut health not only helps alleviate uncomfortable digestive symptoms during pregnancy but also establishes a healthy environment for the baby’s growth and development. The father’s gut health is equally important, as he contributes half of the genetic material necessary for creating a baby.

How can you prioritize gut health and the gut microbiome during preconception?

  1. Address underlying issues: If there are any existing gut issues or symptoms, it’s crucial to address them first. Collaborate with a practitioner, such as one of our naturopaths to identify and address underlying conditions.
  2. Seed in good bacteria: Incorporate a high-quality probiotic along with prenatal vitamins (prescribed by one of our naturopaths to help find the right one specifically for you) to introduce beneficial bacteria into the gut. While this step is beneficial at any stage, it is essential not to skip the first step of addressing underlying issues.
  3. Eat Real Foods: Favor plant fibers found in fruits and vegetables, providing a variety of colorful options daily. Consuming five handfuls of vegetables, following Australian dietary guidelines, ensures a good source of nutrients and feeds beneficial bacteria. Additionally, include clean sources of protein and healthy fats to strengthen the gut wall lining for optimal digestion.
  4. Reduce processed and high-sugar foods: Vital for a healthy microbiome, cutting down on processed and high-sugar foods helps reduce inflammation and prevent the overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria.
  5. Drink water: A well-hydrated gut promotes optimal digestion, allowing for the right environment for beneficial bacteria to thrive. Staying hydrated prevents the gut from becoming dry, cracked, and sluggish, reducing the risk of waste buildup and unwanted bacterial overgrowth.
  6. Reduce stress: Stress triggers the body’s fight or flight response, diverting resources away from digestion. This can lead to unwanted symptoms and create an environment perceived as unsafe for a baby. Prioritizing relaxation helps shift from fight or flight to rest and digest mode.
  7. Remove chemicals: Chemicals and fragrances in the home and body care products can affect both good and bad bacteria. Switching to natural products for cleaning, hygiene, beauty, and baby care reduces the risk of harming beneficial gut bacteria.

The Gut Microbiome and Pregnancy:

Prioritizing gut health and maintaining a healthy microbiome during pregnancy can contribute to the overall well-being and alleviate common pregnancy symptoms like nausea and constipation.

Throughout pregnancy, the mother’s gut microbiome can influence the development of the baby’s gut health and microbiome. The presence of specific beneficial bacteria strains may enhance glucose metabolism, reduce the risk of insulin resistance, and prevent streptococcus infections.

The Microbiome and Birth:

The gut and vaginal microbiomes play significant roles during childbirth. If delivering vaginally, the baby is exposed to the vaginal microbiome; kick-starting their own microbiome and immune function.

In the case of a cesarean section, you can opt for vaginal seeding, where the microbiome is swabbed onto the baby. If this aligns with your birth preferences, communicate this to your birth team in advance so that the right person, knowledgeable about the procedure can be assigned on the day.

Another method of supporting the baby’s microbiome at birth is through skin-to-skin contact. Placing the baby on a parent or guardian’s chest fosters this connection. Ensure that no fragrances or chemical-based skincare products are used during this time to avoid the transfer of chemicals through the skin and allow only the beneficial bacteria to be passed on.

The Gut Microbiome Post Birth:

Breastfeeding continues to nurture a baby’s gut microbiome. The communication between the baby and mother’s immune systems enables the production of antibodies and nutrients essential for the baby’s well-being.

If breastfeeding is not possible, opting for high-quality baby formulas which use goat’s milk with similar Oligosaccharides to breast milk can aid digestion. Removing inflammatory ingredients like palm oil and canola oil from the formula helps prevent digestive tract inflammation and gut upset.

The mother’s diet also plays a role in the baby’s digestive health. Proper support ensures both the mother and baby receive the necessary nutrients. Specialized products for newborns and growing babies are available, which can be added to bottles or taken by the mother to pass on through breast milk. If either the mother or baby experiences digestive discomfort, seeking professional support promptly is essential.


Connect with one of our practitioners today to ensure both the mother, father and baby are all supported effectively and optimize your fertility journey!

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