Probiotics, Why Are They So Important?
Experiences From A New Mom
Cristina Torralbas is a first time mother and shares about her journey into motherhood. The first time her baby was sick, she was very disheartened. In her journey, she discovered the importance of a healthy microbiome and how probiotics assist in keeping herself and her baby healthy.
Mysteries Of The Microbiome
Microbe colonies are the giant topics of a future under threat by the smallest of the small.
Everyone has a microbiome; a collection of bacteria, viruses, and fungi living in and around our bodies. Different parts of the body contain different microbes, including the skin, gut, and vagina. The microbiome is important because it helps regulate our metabolic rate and if deficient is associated with conditions like heart disease, asthma, depression, obesity, and autism. It also helps us to digest food and resist diseases and may even impact how different drugs affect different people! The microbiome therefore affects almost every aspect of life – and midwives play an important role in ensuring that it’s healthy!
Building A Healthy Microbiome
First human microbial communities are influenced by our type of birth: the babies with the healthiest microbiome are those who are born at home and breastfed exclusively. Homes are unlikely to harbour microbes to which the family doesn’t have innate resistance unlike in a hospital setting, and babies who are born vaginally are colonised with a rich microbial load as they are birthed, while C-section babies only get microbes from Mom’s skin. There are several things midwives can do during pregnancy, birth, and the postnatal period to help get the microbiome off to the healthiest start:
- Advise moms to reduce acid forming foods like coffee, tobacco, fizzy drinks, beer, artificial sweeteners, sugar, white bread, pasta, eggs, and dairy
- Encourage moms to increase alkaline foods like fresh fruit and vegetables and to drink water with lemon – microbes thrive in alkaline environments!
- Recommend probiotics and prebiotics for moms prone to thrush or urinary tract infections or after antibiotic use
- Promote spontaneous labour and use natural pain relief instead of drugs
- Promote and enable natural vaginal birth
- Use towels and other linens which moms bring from home – let the mom drape the towel around her shoulders and in her lap during labour and then wrap Baby in it immediately after birth
- Promote skin-to-skin contact between Mom or Dad and Baby during the Golden Hour after birth
- Avoid unnecessary contact between the baby and non-family members for the first few hours as this compromises the microbiome
- Encourage immediate breastfeeding, especially for babies born prematurely, via C-section, nursed in the neonatal unit, or given antibiotics – breast milk contains oligosaccharides which nourish the microbes within the gut
- Allow mothers to room in with their babies
- Encourage Kangaroo Care in the NICU and advise moms to touch, stroke, and massage Baby
- Avoid top up feeds, as even small amounts of formula disturb the microbiome