With its growing popularity, everyone is becoming more aware of the importance of the microbiome (aka the microorganisms that live throughout the gastrointestinal tract) in relation to boosting the immune system and improving digestive health. But did you know taking care of your gut is even more important during pregnancy?
An unbalanced microbiome can compromise your system, causing several issues that can negatively influence fetal development during pregnancy and into infancy. Examples such as preterm labor, colic, reflux and other digestive disturbances are directly impacted by the state of mom’s microbiome. Therefore, optimizing your gut during pregnancy is crucial not only for your health but also for your baby’s.
If your microbiome is balanced, then your baby will be better able to absorb nutrients through the food you consume. The healthier your gut flora while pregnant and breastfeeding, the healthier your baby’s constitution, which sets the stage for both present and future health.
With this in mind, it may be easier to stay motivated during your pregnancy to make choices that ensure a happy, balanced microbiome.
Here are 8 gut friendly habits to practice while pregnant to help give your baby a headstart:
1 – Food is medicine – Eat a healthy diet of organic, fresh produce, healthy fats, superfoods, bone broth and probiotic-rich cultured and fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi. Avoid processed and chemicalized foods, GMOs, MSG, artificial sweeteners and additives, pesticides and food coloring as these harm beneficial microbes. And don’t forget to stay hydrated by drinking clean, filtered water throughout the day.
2 – Get Moving – Staying active is not only good for you and your baby, it is also great for your gut. Preliminary studies show exercise may help to increase beneficial gut bacteria populations. Therefore, move as much as possible, doing the best you can to make it a daily activity, even after baby is born. Studies also show that mamas who exercise during their pregnancies have larger placentas which means more oxygen and nutrients to your baby.
3 – Soak up some sunshine – Optimize your vitamin D through sunshine and supplementation. Consider getting your levels checked and talk to your health care provider for proper supplementation. Take in the sun for around 15 minutes per day, which is not only great for a dose of Vitamin D but it is also a natural mood booster. Sitting in the sun for about 15 minutes a day also acts as a natural mood booster – perfect for when you are feeling slow and sluggish.
4 – Go green…as in beauty products, house cleaners and all kinds of toiletries. This will help limit your exposure to toxic, endocrine disrupting chemicals that can harm your body’s natural hormonal system. Less chemicals for you means less for your baby so be sure to choose eco-friendly products for your little one too.
5 – Get dirty! Avoid using hand sanitizers as they not only have those same harmful ingredients as most other beauty products but also kill off any good bugs too. Such strong sterilization can throw off the delicate balance of gut flora so it’s better to wash your hands with good ol’ fashioned soap and water!
6 – Breast is best – Once baby arrives, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for 12 months, if you can. Breastfeeding provides your baby’s microbiome with beneficial bugs as well as food (prebiotics) to feed those bugs. This ensures the proper development of the gut flora right from the start. Since the infant microbiome educates the immune system and primes organ function, it is imperative it is given the proper nutrients.
7 – Ditch the plastic – Store food and drinks in glass and get rid of plastic wrap, water bottles and tupperware. Glass not only holds up better over time but doesn’t leach harmful chemicals into what you eat and drink. If you happen to pump or need to bottle feed, choose glass bottles for baby too!
8 – Love your Bugs! Take a high quality probiotic such as LoveBug. We have designed our probiotic, Labor of Love, especially for expectant moms and their growing infants formulating it with billions of helpful bacteria to aid digestion, boost nutrition absorption and reduce constipation. A balanced microbiome during pregnancy also helps maintain a strong immune system and balanced blood sugar, both necessary for an easeful pregnancy experience.
Remember, small changes can positively affect your gut so do the best you can to grow not only your baby but also your good bugs!
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