It's extremely important that you have healthy bacteria (flora) in your gut so that your baby can get off to the best start.
Why you ask?
Because every human is composed of more bacteria than human cells. Basically on a cell-to-cell level, we are 90% microbial. And it's super important to protect our microbiome. Your microbiome is developed at the time of birth.
Since 1900 it was thought that when a baby is born, his/her gut is sterile, bacteria-free. During labor as the baby comes down through the birth canal he or she is exposed to the mother's flora, thus creating the baby's gut bacteria. Also babies are exposed to more of their mother's flora while breastfeeding. "Beneficial bacteria also help tutor the immune system, so that it attacks pathogens without overreacting and damaging the body itself. The microbiome can even fend off disease-causing bacteria."
But new evidence is indicating that a healthy fetus picks up bacteria in the womb. Dr. Quintana and her colleagues have found bacteria in the amniotic fluid of healthy babies, as well as in umbilical cord blood and placentas.
Just another reason why pregnant moms need to make sure their "flora" is healthy.
Functions of Good Gut Bacteria
- Regulate peristalsis and bowel movements.
- Break down bacterial toxins.
- Make vitamins needed and utilize: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, A & K.
- Digest protein into amino acids (for use by the body).
- Produce antibiotics and antifungals.
- Help breakdown sugars, lactose, and oxalates.
- Support immune system and increase number of immune cells. Did you know that your gut contains 70 -80 % of your immune system?
- Balance intestinal pH.
- Protect against environmental toxins: mercury, pesticides, pollution.
- Produces 90% of your serotonin, AKA the feel-good chemical? So your brain and gut are totally connected, they need each other in order to work optimally.
- Help regulate your hormones.
We now know that our stress set point gets programed around the time we are a baby. And it all has to do with the flora we received at birth. That flora interacts with the HPA axis which is responsible for how we react to stress in life. So getting a good introduction to healthy gut flora when we are born via a vaginal birth and being breastfeed is so important. I
What if your baby was born via cesarean?
Babies born via Cesarean miss out on the important vaginal flora that is critical for inoculating them with the different kinds of healthy bacteria that is needed to start their microbiome. The microbiome is important because we depend on a vast army of microbes to stay alive. Our microbiome protects us against germs, breaks down food to release energy, and produces vitamins. When a baby is born vaginally they are covered in the mom's flora. This flora is needed to start the development of the microbiome on its skin, in their mucus membranes and to seal their gut and activate their immune system response.
When babies are born via Cesarean, these babies get a double whammy against the start of their microbiome because:
1.) The mom is given antibiotics which means the baby gets the antibiotics.
2.) The baby misses out on the vaginal flora.
Cesaraen born babies tend to have less beneficial bacteria, and the flora that does take root is not only different, but also less effective. Research has shown that babies born via C-section have higher amounts of bacteria that are commonly found in hospital environments.
Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do to protect your baby's immune system. Breastmilk has a lot of antibodies in it and it contains special sugars to feed your baby's microbiome to make it flourish. Breastmilk also contains healthy flora in it too. This flora is tailored to the baby's changing needs. It's really amazing actually.
What can you do to improve your baby's microbiome?
Probiotics.....Studies show that babies born via Cesarean or who have had antibiotic exposure are much less likely to develop allergies, eczema, and asthma if they were given a probiotic at birth.
Mom should take a daily multi-strain probiotic not only throughout pregnancy but postpartum too.
How to give your baby a probiotic:
There are probiotics now that are designed for infants. Make sure your probiotic contains Bifidobacterium infantum and a bunch of other strains. But make sure Bifidobacterium infantum is in it.
When do I start and for how long?
Start giving the infant probiotic to your baby at the time of birth and continue for at least 3 months.
Take a little bit of breastmilk or formula, like an ounce or less, mix it with the infant probiotic dose and then feed it to the baby through an eyedropper. If you are feeding at the breast, you can feed your baby and just put the eyedropper right next to your nipple and dribble it in while the baby feeds. If you are formula feeding you can just put the powder into the formula.
Here is what you can do to have healthy bacteria flora.
Eat fermented foods daily, such as kefir, kim chee, sauerkraut, organic miso, or natto.
Take probiotics daily.
Eat organic plain yogurt.
Eat plenty of organic fruits and vegetables because the fiber acts like (pre-biotic) food for the healthy bacteria.
It's a good idea to re-populate every day by taking probiotics, eating yogurt and/or fermented foods daily, especially while pregnant. The good bacteria in our gut is very important for man, woman and child.
"Probiotics During Pregnancy May Ward Off Eczema, Food Allergy"
In research reported in the October 18, 2012, issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, infants whose mothers took probiotics during pregnancy and while breast-feeding were less likely to develop eczema."
A healthy gut is extremely important for your well being!
Here is a fantastic video explaining the importance of microbes in our body. Here is the link to view the video.
Here is another amazing video:
The Microbiome: A Microscopic World Within Us with Guest Tom Malterre.
Did you know that microbial cells that inhabit the human body outnumber human cells 10 to 1? And yet, the entire microbiome of a person only weighs about 200 grams. There is a fully functioning ecosystem inside of us that needs as much attention as the world around us. This week Sara Gottfried and Pedram Shojai welcome Tom Malterre to The Health Bridge. Tom discusses how important it is to set up a properly functioning microbiome, especially if you are or are considering becoming pregnant as the microbiome of the mother sets up the microbiome of the child. What symptoms can manifest and what are some things that can be done to help an unbalanced microbiome?
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