It’s no secret that the food you put into your body works for you or against you. You might be willing to compromise your gut health every once in a while (if there’s delicious cake at a birthday party, for example!), but your gut health during pregnancy is nothing to gamble with.
Your gut health while pregnant is important for you and your baby. An unborn baby shares nutrients and bacteria with its mother. So you want to be sure you’re giving your baby the best foods you can.
What Is Gut Health?
- 1 What Is Gut Health?
- 2 Why Is it Important to Prioritize Gut Health During Pregnancy?
- 3 How Can You Improve Your Gut Health During Pregnancy?
Gut health refers to the overall balance and efficiency of your digestive system. Bacteria play an important role in your gut health. You can soothe a variety of stomach upsets just by increasing the good bacteria levels in your belly.
Gut health ties in with all of your bodily functions! Everything from your ability to run up the stairs to fluctuations in your mood is influenced by the bacteria in your digestive tract—and how it makes you feel.
Why Is it Important to Prioritize Gut Health During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy is challenging enough with a balanced gut. If your gut is unbalanced, you run the risk of several problems for you and your unborn baby. Have a look at why you should focus on your gut health during pregnancy.
Poor Gut Health During Pregnancy Increases Your Risk for Complications
Many pregnant people will have nightmares about complications that can affect them and their child. Did you know that imbalanced bacteria in your gut can increase the risk of major problems like preeclampsia or gestational diabetes?
Preeclampsia is usually diagnosed towards the end of pregnancy in adults with high blood pressure or extreme swelling in the hands and feet. There is a definite connection between the balance of bacteria in a pregnant person’s gut and a preeclampsia diagnosis, which is dangerous for both parent and baby.
Doctors can diagnose gestational diabetes with a simple blood test, but it’s similarly dangerous to parent and child. Pregnancy issues are not the same for everyone, but eating well and balancing your gut health can seriously improve your pregnancy and birth experience overall.
Poor Gut Health During Pregnancy Can Increase Your Baby’s Chance of Developing Allergies and Immune Deficiencies
If ever there was a reason to balance your gut health during pregnancy, this is it! The bacteria in your belly affects your child’s health even after birth.
Some studies show that poor gut health in utero can lead to poor gut health for a lifetime. But balanced gut health in utero usually leads to healthier babies (who grow into gut-healthy adults).
This means that babies born from bellies with balanced bacteria are less likely to struggle with allergies, immunodeficiencies, diabetes, and more.
Poor Gut Health Can Impact Your Child’s Dental Health
Long before your child even has teeth, your gut health can make an impact on their smile. The bacterial balance inside of your baby’s mouth at birth goes on to develop their brain, metabolic system, and immune system.
And yes, their dental well-being is affected by your gut health during pregnancy, too! Eating healthily and paying attention to your gut balance before birth will help your child thrive in ways you might not have realized before.
How Can You Improve Your Gut Health During Pregnancy?
If you want to make moves to make your gut as healthy as possible while pregnant, you’re in the right place! Read on for five golden tips to help keep your belly in tip-top shape for your little miracle.
Consider Taking a Prebiotic or Probiotic Supplement
With your doctor’s blessing, a dietary supplement can be very helpful during pregnancy. A probiotic delivers live flora to your gut to help populate your insides with healthy bacteria. A prebiotic does the same job, but with plant particles to instigate bacterial growth.
Of course, a supplement doesn’t excuse poor eating habits! You still need to pay close attention to the foods you eat for you and your baby.
Get Your Fruits and Veggies In
Vegetables and fruits are healthy for everyone, but especially pregnant people! Fiber plays a special role in gut health, feeding the healthy bacteria inside of you and helping it thrive.
Plant foods also help to flush out bad bacteria and regulate your digestive system. When pregnant, you should really aim to have multiple helpings for fruits and veggies at every meal. (And be sure to mix up your colors!)
Cut Back on Sugary Foods
Sugar is the enemy! To maintain your gut health during pregnancy, you need to stay away from sweets and processed foods. You may need to pay special attention to food wrappers to make sure your snacks haven’t been dosed with extra sugar.
When in doubt, foods that grow from the ground or come from an animal are usually the safest to eat. But be sure to consult with your doctor if you have special dietary needs.
Soak Up Some Sun
Surprise—your gut health isn’t all about what you eat! Sunshine can improve your vitamin D levels for a more harmonious digestive system. Vitamin D is responsible for managing some bacterial levels and preventing a leaky gut.
Time in the sun can also help with your mental state and give you peace of mind (which can help stabilize your gut). You’re working hard to grow that baby! So enjoy the fresh air and sunshine as often as you can.
Cut out stressors wherever possible. Even while pregnant, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself when responsibilities are beating down your door. But the truth is that your body is working around the clock to grow your baby on top of your other responsibilities. So you need to make adjustments.
Too much stress can be associated with increased bad bacteria in newborn babies.
If you can’t remove all of your stress triggers (and who can?) then be sure to invest in some mental health maintenance with one of these tools:
- Talk therapy
Pregnant parents who are stressed pass their stress along to their unborn children. Focus on taking deep breaths and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Your gut health during pregnancy is important, but don’t be overwhelmed. These nine months of your life will fly by! Try to make the most of each day by remaining calm and staying focused on your health goals. Start on your journey towards a healthier gut right away by using these tips.