How your gut health in pregnancy
can support your baby's health

‘Gut Health’ and ‘Gut Microbiome’ are becoming hot topics in the health world, and we are starting to shine a spotlight on how powerful our gut health is for our overall well-being, our physical and our mental health.

But what about in pregnancy? A time during which we naturally start to consider our health more intentionally and of course strive to provide the most nurturing environment and start to our babies’ lives.

Let’s take a look at what the evidence tells us about gut health and your baby’s health in pregnancy…


First of all it is useful to understand that in pregnancy a woman’s gut undergoes substantial changes in both its function and bacterial composition which may influence infant health outcomes. It is also recognised how powerful maternal health and nutrition in pregnancy is in the development of their baby’s gut microbiome and associated short- and long-term health improvements.1 The gut microbe species present in a mother’s gastrointestinal system have been shown to represent up to 80% of infants gut microbiome when born, as maternal microbiome is transferred to their baby at birth and during breastfeeding.2,3

Our gut health is so fundamental that the state of a baby’s gut microbiome has the potential to increase their risk of allergy related disorders, asthma, infections, intestinal diseases, and autoimmune conditions.4,5 Studies have also found correlations between improved birth weight and a reduction in preterm birth with maternal microbiome health.6,7

Maternal nutrition is a major contributor to gut health, however it is also known that antibiotic use in pregnancy, abdominal birth and formula feeding may also damage a baby’s gut health potential.8,9 Evidently some of these circumstances may be unavoidable for mothers, antibiotics and caesarean birth do save lives and are important medical interventions when needed. However, maternal diet is something that pregnant women should be empowered to optimise for both their and their infant’s health.


There is also a strong body of evidence highlighting a powerful relationship between gut health and mental wellbeing. Specifically, the way in which our gut microbiota influences stress responses anxiety and memory.10 Pregnancy is a known time of heightened stress and anxiety in women and therefore optimising gut health may also be a supportive way to manage these common mental health symptoms.

With nutrition in mind, how can you optimise your gut health?

  • Eat lots of fibre rich foods - fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes in abundance as fibre feeds your beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Avoid consuming ultra-processed foods as the preservatives and added emulsifiers damage your gut and cause inflammation.
  • Get plenty of healthy fats in your diet such as nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil and oily fish.
  • Move your body everyday - exercising increases beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Supercharge the colours on your plate - a range of colourful fruits and vegetables allow greater gut microbiome diversity.
  • Mitigate and learn to manage stress, the gut brain axis means stress can be harmful to our gut health in the same way our gut health can support our mental wellbeing.

A note from Pip:

Gut health, specifically in pregnancy, is a subject close to my heart and something I really considered during my own pregnancy journey. My husband suffers eczema and asthma, naturally I was very keen to do anything to try and prevent our little boy from also suffering these all-too-common conditions. And this was where I found gut health and all the evidence that came with it. The powerful links between maternal gut health, breastfeeding and significant reductions in allergy related conditions. The word about gut health in the general population is slowly getting out there, but I feel it is something we should be shouting from the rooftops when it comes to pregnancy. Such simple dietary and lifestyle changes to support a healthier pregnancy, a healthier mind and critically, a healthier baby.

Dietary tweaks to boost my gut microbiome, daily pregnancy specific exercise, a few minutes of mindful stress relieving breathwork and supplementation with Bio-Kult Pregnéa were daily priorities for me. As a full time midwife working days, nights and long hours, as well as juggling life as a small business owner, Instagram educator, podcaster and wife, I fully understand that time is not a luxury but honestly boosting your gut health is not a time consuming task; it is incredibly achievable and a health investment I would choose over and over again for my family. I hope that some of the evidence I have put together here helps you to consider your gut health and to enjoy the positive benefits it brings too.

Here is to healthier guts, healthier mums, and healthier babies.


Midwife Pip

Connect with Pip on Instagram and follow @midwife_pip

Learn more from Pip at midwifepip.com and find courses to support you on your pregnancy journey. 



References

1.  Edwards et al., 2017;
2.  Xion et al., 2021;
3.  Kumbhare et al., 2019;
4.  O’Neill et al., 2017;
5.  Gensollen et al., 2016;
6.   Lauer et al., 2018;
7.   Shivakoti et al., 2018;
8.   Ranucci et al., 2017;
9.   Shao et al., 2019;
10. Carabotti et al., 2015