Should You Take Probiotics During Pregnancy?

Medically Reviewed on 9/14/2022

How do probiotics work during pregnancy?

Probiotics During Pregnancy
Probiotic supplements are most likely safe to take during pregnancy.

There are a lot of opinions out there about whether to take probiotics during pregnancy. Some suggest it is essential, whereas others warn against using probiotics during pregnancy.

Mothers look for additional ways to support their and their newborn's health. For example, researchers are looking for ways to prevent the growing number of babies and infants with allergies.

  • Many studies report that babies whose mothers took probiotics (beneficial organisms that reside in the gut) during pregnancy were less likely to have allergies and skin conditions such as eczema.
  • The intake of probiotics does not cause any harm, but research for clear evidence of their benefits is yet to be conducted.
  • Moreover, there have been no studies on expectant mothers with immunodeficiency due to diseases such as HIV, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and probiotics.

The mechanism of probiotics during pregnancy is still controversial. However, the initial idea is the same.

Probiotics are considered good bacteria. They improve gut bacteria and attack destructive invaders. In addition, probiotics help reduce harmful bacteria in the body, lowering the potential of certain infections.

What is the use of probiotics during pregnancy?

Two ways to get probiotics are through your diet and supplements.

Foods that are rich in probiotics include:

  • Fermented foods
  • Yogurt
  • Miso
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha

Probiotic supplements contain live organisms. A single dose of supplements may include a single strain or multiple strains.

The risk of probiotic-induced bacteremia and fungemia is less because the probiotics given during pregnancy are less likely to reach systemic circulation and cause harm to the baby or mother.

In a few studies, women began probiotic supplements during their third trimester. They continued until delivery and did not show any incidence of miscarriages or genetic defects because probiotics are primarily taken in the third trimester and are less likely to affect organogenesis, which occurs in the first trimester.

Studies reported that probiotics during pregnancy did not affect birth weight, gestational age, or the incidence of cesarean deliveries.

Pregnant women are considered the most popular group to take probiotics for gastrointestinal issues.


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6 benefits of probiotics during pregnancy

Constipation and diarrhea are most experienced in pregnant women. Probiotics manage constipation and diarrhea by regulating bowel movements.

According to the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada, 45 to 93 percent of midwives prescribed the natural form of probiotics to expecting mothers.

Probiotics help maintain a healthy pregnancy and offer numerous health benefits, such as:

  1. Maintain vaginal health: Pregnant women are at a high risk of vaginal and yeast infections. Probiotics can improve the vaginal microbiome, preventing further vaginal infections and reducing the use of prescription medicines to treat vaginal infections. Doctors usually recommend adding probiotics to their routine during pregnancy if they have recurrent vaginal infections.
  2. May reduce the risk of preterm birth: Changes in the bacteria in the gut and vagina are normal during pregnancy. Sometimes, there may be an abnormal imbalance of the good bacteria, which may cause various and severe infections during pregnancy and may lead to preterm birth. Therefore, probiotics consumed during pregnancy maintain a balanced microbiome and reduce the risk of preterm birth.
  3. May reduce the risk of eczema: Taking probiotics may reduce the risk of eczema. Many studies have reported that probiotic supplements significantly reduce the risk of eczema in pregnant mothers and infants with a family history of allergies. However, more evidence and research are yet to confirm these potential benefits.
  4. Improve gut bacteria: Gut health is key to both physical and mental health. Probiotics are often used to improve digestive and immune health. The same thing applies to pregnant women. Probiotic supplements improve gut bacteria, aid in digestion, and help regulate bowel movements and manage symptoms of irritable bowel disease.
  5. In addition, probiotics reduce the risk of preeclampsia.
  6. They improve immunity, maternal metabolic health, and general well-being.

How often should you take probiotics and who should avoid them?

Because different brands have different dosages and guidelines, the frequency of taking probiotics often differs from one brand to another. Therefore, it is always important to check the label and consult your healthcare provider before starting supplementation.

Although probiotics are safe to take, people with the following conditions should avoid them:

  • Compromised immunity or a weak immune system
  • Known history of allergy to bacteria that are found in probiotics
  • Illness or those who have undergone any major surgeries
  • Symptoms of pancreatitis

Suppose you take antifungal or antibacterial medicines. In that case, you should reduce your intake of probiotics or consult your doctor so that the probiotics do not alter the effectiveness of these medications.

Bottom line

Probiotic supplements are most likely safe to take during pregnancy; however, there is no evidence to prove it. Probiotics may have potential benefits such as lowering the risk of preterm labor and child eczema and maintaining vaginal and gut health.

We are unaware of enough evidence to recommend probiotics universally. Hence, we need a large and well-designed study of probiotic use during pregnancy.

Talk to your healthcare provider before you start probiotic supplements during pregnancy.

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Medically Reviewed on 9/14/2022
Image Source: iStock images how probiotics work during pregnancy,increase%20in%20adverse%20pregnancy%20outcomes. Use of probiotics during pregnancy.