Can You Take Probiotics While Pregnant? Are They Safe?

Expecting a baby comes with a whole host of changes for mothers-to-be. Alongside obvious bodily transformations, you may confront alterations in comfort, daily energy, skin or hair quality, mental focus, nutrient status, immunity, and of course – digestive regularity. Therefore savvy women explore holistic solutions like probiotics to stabilize hormones, temper nausea, improve absorption of prenatal vitamins, support cervical health, and ease constipation.

But can you continue taking your probiotic supplements safely once that positive pregnancy test confirms baby is on board? What about consuming probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and kefir? This guide will unpack the evidence behind probiotic use during pregnancy to highlight smart supplemental choices for you and baby.

Key Considerations on Probiotics When Pregnant

  • Safety – Clinical studies increasingly showcase positive outcomes but larger scale & long-term investigations still needed. Talk to your doctor about strain-specific choices fitting your health history.
  • Absorption – Probiotic fortification shown to boost nutrient assimilation of prenatal vitamins/minerals. May help avoid common deficiencies plaguing pregnant women.
  • Immune Balance – Certain strains demonstrate immune-regulating activities by increasing secretory IgA, NK cells and anti-inflammatory cytokines production. Calms overactive maternal immunity.
  • Gestational Diabetes – Emerging studies display select probiotic supplements containing Lactobacillus & Bifidobacterium strains significantly decrease gestational diabetes risk by 25-50% via improved glucose metabolism & insulin sensitivity modulation.
  • Group B Strep Infections – Specific probiotic strains like L. rhamnosus & reuteri may reduce vaginal & rectal GBS colonization rates to lower transmission likelihood, but more research needed.
  • Premature Birth – Supplementing with probiotics may reduce associated risk factors like vaginal dysbiosis & inflammation, uterine contractions and cervical shortening. Further investigation still necessary.

Maternal Health Conditions Benefitting from Probiotic Supplementation

Beyond basic prenatal advantages, the medical literature shows certain strains confer particular therapeutic effects that benefit common health conditions in pregnancy:

🀰 Nausea & Vomiting – Multiple RCTs confirm select Bifidobacterium strains significantly and swiftly reduce nausea, vomiting episodes and severity in early pregnancy by up to 40%.
🀰 Bacterial Vaginosis – L. crispatus probiotic vaginal suppositories demonstrate high rates of BV infection clearance & prevention of recurrence compared to antibiotic interventions with fewer side effects.
🀰 Anxiety & Depression – Mental health disorders can manifest or worsen with hormonal changes for vulnerable women. Multi-strain probiotics shown to lessen depressive symptoms by over 50% and reduced stress biomarkers like cortisol after 8 weeks.
🀰 Gestational Diabetes – Studies indicate pregnant women consuming probiotic-fermented milk had 50% lower likelihood of developing glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and gestational diabetes mellitus compared to controls.
🀰 Constipation Relief – Over 60% of expectant mothers battle constipation. Fortifying diet with Bifidobacterium lactis helps increase bowel movements to counter discomfort according to clinical trials.
🀰 Hypertension – Research spotlights select Lactobacillus strains have blood pressure lowering effects. Systolic readings decreased average of 3.6 mmHg and diastolic by 2.4 mmHg after supplementing for 8 weeks.
🀰 Group B Strep Infections – Colonization by vaginal GBS bacteria during pregnancy raises newborn infection risks during delivery. Probiotic prophylaxis shown to reduce recto-vaginal detection rates of GBS prior to birth.
🀰 Supporting Milk Quality – Human studies indicate probiotic supplementation containing certain Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species increase antioxidant status and beneficial fats in breast milk with potential infant development and immunity advantages.

Clearly the diverse biological actions of probiotic bacteria offer pregnant women an array of perks – making them smart supplementation considerations. But due caution is still necessary until more extensive clinical evaluations better characterize long-term generational safety.

Documented Safety Concerns of Probiotics in Pregnancy

Most probiotics likely demonstrate an acceptable safely profile during pregnancy based on current human trials, but gaps in research still remain. Areas requiring further investigation include:

➑️ Viable Microbial Transmission – Can live supplemental strains directly transfer from mother to fetus in utero or impact early colonization after birth? What are the implications?
➑️ Immune Modulation Extent – Could probiotic bacteria overly dampen necessary maternal inflammatory responses required for fetal immune system priming and tolerance development?
➑️ Infection Risk – Probiotic intervention studies rarely track the influence on maternal infection susceptibility from Listeria, Candida and other pathogens. Could shifts in vaginal pH or microbiota raise risks?
➑️ Gestational Age Considerations – Probiotics likely impart different effects during early, mid and late-term pregnancy. More stage-specific safety evaluations are mandated.
➑️ Allergenicity Concerns – Some researchers postulate probiotic supplementation may actually raise chances of infant eczema, asthma or food allergies when given in late term pregnancy and during breastfeeding.

Clearly additional probiotic safety mechanisms must be elucidated through large-scale pregnancy research projects tracking both short and long-range generational impacts before definitive intake guidance emerges. until then, women are advised to apply cautionary supplemental strategies.

Recommended Approach – Smart, Personalized Probiotic Use in Pregnancy

Given the promising maternal health and pregnancy outcome improvements noted in early human studies with few adverse events, most OBGYNs condone probiotic supplementation or dietary incorporation during pregnancy – under the guidance of key precautions:

πŸ’Š Begin with low CFU counts and single strain choices initially; escalate slowly
πŸ’Š Prioritize well-studied Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species with history of safe use
πŸ’Š Verify any probiotic is free from worrisome substances like gluten, soy or high FODMAP sugars
πŸ’Š Obtain practitioner oversight when deploying probiotics to resolve current digestive or vaginal disorders
πŸ’Š Monitor immune and microbiome marker changes through lab testing every trimester
πŸ’Š Report any side effects like GI disturbance, yeast issues or notable cravings shifts to providers
πŸ’Š Combine dietary prebiotic fiber sources to promote endogenous commensal growth

Employing conservative supplemental strategies focused on nurturing community resilience allows pregnant women to garner the bounty of helpful bacterial support during a pivotal time of microbial change and immunologic need without incurring unexpected risks. Confirm any probiotic recommendations with your overseeing doctor and medical team to ensure appropriate oversight while reaping digestive, hormonal and immune balancing rewards.