During pregnancy and breastfeeding, it can be common to experience digestive upset and a change in bowel motions. For some, it can be a bit of a stressful time, and this coupled with some significant hormonal changes can have a strong impact on the health and microflora balance of the gut.
Does gut health affect pregnancy?
In short, yes. A mother’s diet during pregnancy can have an effect on both maternal gut health as well as the composition of the baby’s gut microbiome, which plays a big role in shaping the health of the newborn. Diet, along with the route of delivery (vaginally or via cesarean section) and breastfeeding all have an impact on the baby’s gut bacteria which is important for the development of the immune system.
How can I improve my gut health during pregnancy?
It can be common to notice a change in digestion along with more sluggish bowel movements during pregnancy. This can be due to the number of hormonal changes your body goes through which can cause an imbalance of gut microflora.
To best support the health of your gut and overall digestion during pregnancy and breastfeeding:
- Get in a good source of fibre. Fiber-rich foods such as apples, broccoli, beans, lentils, and chia seeds help to bulk stools, supporting regular bowel movements. Prebiotic fibre from fruits and vegetables also helps good bacteria in the gut thrive, supporting a healthy gut microbiome.
- Include fermented foods. Foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi are naturally rich in probiotics, which helps support a healthy and diverse gut microbiome.
- Manage stress. Stress can cause issues with digestion along with imbalances of gut bacteria. Try to focus on stress-reducing activities such as mindfulness and mediation and gentle exercise like yoga.
- Consider glutamine. A naturally-occurring amino acid, glutamine is found in high protein foods such as meat, fish and dairy, but is also synthesised by our body tissues. Glutamine is considered a conditionally essential amino acid in the body, meaning its requirements increase during times of pregnancy, lactation, stress, and growth. When it comes to the gut, glutamine plays a big role and keeps things running smoothly. Serving as a source of fuel, glutamine supports immune cell activity in the gut, soothes and supports the mucous membrane in the intestines, and supports the maintenance of the barrier between the inside of your intestines and the rest of your body. While there are no known safety concerns around the supplementation of glutamine during pregnancy and breastfeeding, there is no substantial evidence to suggest its safety or non-safety. Our advice? Chat to your doctor or midwife first to see if this product is right for you.
- Try herbs. Natural support from herbs such as slippery elm and marshmallow are fantastic options to help soothe digestion as well as support bowel movements which can often become an issue during pregnancy. Other herbs such as ginger, cinnamon and chamomile can also help to settle an upset stomach, reduce bloating and provide overall digestive comfort. While these herbs are all considered safe in recommended amounts during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it’s best to check with your doctor or midwife first.
Two Islands Happy Gut contains a blend of glutamine and apple fibre with soothing herbs including slippery elm, chamomile, ginger, and cinnamon to support overall gut health, digestive comfort, and bowel regularity. While there are no major safety concerns around the ingredients in Happy Gut during pregnancy and lactation, it is always recommended to check in with your doctor, midwife or healthcare professional first, before taking Happy Gut or any new form of supplementation.