If you’re breastfeeding, how do you know if it’s safe to take probiotics?
Probiotic supplements are booming in popularity. But is it OK to take probiotics while breastfeeding?
And what kind of probiotics should you be taking?
It’s important to remember that when you feed your baby breast milk, they get a healthy dose of good bacteria. So the question isn’t whether or not there are benefits to taking probiotics during this time – but rather which ones are best and how much to take?
If you’re considering adding a daily probiotic supplement to your routine, read on.
We’ll discuss what types of supplements that are available, how they work and whether or not it’s safe for pregnant women and new mothers to take them. You can then decide if this type of supplementation might be right for your needs.
Why is it important to take probiotics while breastfeeding
If you are breastfeeding, it is important to take probiotics. Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in your gut and help keep your digestive system working well. They also protect against disease-causing bacteria and yeast overgrowth in the intestines.
There are four main types of probiotic:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactococcus lactis
Only some strains will survive the acidic environment of your stomach.
This means that when you take a probiotic supplement containing any other type of bacteria besides these four strains then many will be killed before they ever reach their destination in the small intestine where they can do their work.
Since the gastrointestinal tract is directly exposed to the external environment, it contains a complex mixture of organisms from different sources.
In addition to the beneficial bacteria that we carry in our body, there are also many opportunistic pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms) that can proliferate when conditions are right.
In this sense, you could say that the gastrointestinal tract is like a “sensor” that requires proper balance to function properly.
This is why it has been proposed that probiotics could help maintain this internal equilibrium within our body, thus creating an environment less conducive for disease-causing organisms to proliferate.
So, can probiotics be taken while breastfeeding?
The answer is yes, but you should use a probiotic that has been widely studied and found to be safe.
Lactobacillus GG is a good option, but if you are considering a probiotic that has not been studied as extensively, speak with your healthcare provider to see if it is safe for you.
So which probiotics should I take?
The following are probiotics that have been shown in clinical studies to be safe for breastfeeding mothers.
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG)
- Lactobacillus acidophilus LA5
- Bifidobacterium lactis BB12
- Saccharomyces boulardii (S288c)
- Lactococcus lactis DN127 001
- Streptococcus thermophilus TH4
- Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086
Benefits of taking probiotics while breastfeeding
There are many potential benefits to taking probiotics when breastfeeding, including:
- improved digestion
- enhanced immune function
- better absorption of nutrients from food
- reduced risk of infection
- relief from constipation and diarrhea
Some studies have shown that women who take probiotics while breastfeeding tends to have shorter durations of diarrhea and constipation compared to a control group, a greater diversity in their gut flora, and a lower level of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is an indicator of inflammation.
One study showed that the gut microbiome composition differed significantly between breastfed infants of mothers who took probiotics and those of mothers who did not.
The study found that probiotic supplementation was associated with an increase in the Bifidobacterium genus and a decrease in Enterococcus faecalis.
Overall, the evidence suggests that taking probiotics while breastfeeding can have a number of positive effects for both mother and baby.
How do probiotics work?
The human body is an amazing piece of machinery. And just like any good machine, it needs fuel to run properly.
What fuels the human body? Food and water are obviously important, but what about something else? The answer can be found in your gut – or more precisely, in your intestines.
These long tubes act as a second brain for you by regulating your immune system, digesting food and fighting off infections. They also help keep you healthy by making vitamins (like vitamin K) that travel through your bloodstream to other parts of the body.
Your intestines need health-promoting bacteria in order to do all this work well; these bacteria are called probiotics.
Probiotics come from foods like yogurt with live cultures or supplements you can buy in health food stores.
Can probiotics be safely taken while breastfeeding?
There is some evidence that probiotics can be safely taken while breastfeeding. A study published in the journal Pediatrics showed that Lactobacillus GG was safe for both mother and infant.
Lactobacillus GG is a probiotic bacterium that has been widely studied and found to be beneficial for human health. In fact, there is evidence that it can decrease diarrhea and infection among infants.
However, the safety of other probiotics has not been studied as extensively. And since each person has a different gut microbiome (the composition and abundances of microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract), some people may be more likely to suffer from side effects by taking probiotics while breastfeeding.
For example, the bacterium Bifidobacterium infantis has been suggested as a potential treatment for IBS symptoms, but it has also been associated with diarrhea in certain individuals.
Therefore, taking probiotics while breastfeeding is safe if you use one of the more widely studied probiotics such as Lactobacillus GG. If you are considering taking a probiotic that has not been studied as extensively, it is best to speak with your healthcare provider to see if it is safe for you.
While it is generally safe to take probiotics while breastfeeding, you should consult your doctor before doing so if you have any medical conditions or concerns.
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