Baby on her mom's lap

 Mommy Health: The Importance of Probiotics

Probiotics are not synthetic supplements. They’re living microorganisms like the ones that are currently swimming around in your gastrointestinal system. While there has been a lot of debate surrounding the effectiveness or benefits of taking probiotics, many people experience noticeable changes in their health when they increase probiotic consumption or add a supplement. As an adult or teenager, taking probiotics is completely safe. However, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, many new and expecting mothers wonder if they should continue their use of probiotics or stop. There are limiting studies on the effectiveness of probiotics during pregnancy, so many doctors suggest that you discontinue use until birth. Once you deliver and are breastfeeding, probiotics can offer a range of benefits to both mom and baby. Here, we’ll explore some facts about boosting the health of baby and mom and the associated importance of probiotics.

Suggested Strains of Probiotics for Breastfeeding

It’s no surprise that breastfeeding is an important part of healthy development and offers several benefits to both mom and baby. One thing that does tend to surprise people is the relationship between breast milk and probiotics. Breast milk is a natural source of probiotics for infants and includes over 700 types of healthy bacteria.

Since formula does not have these natural probiotics, your doctor may recommend adding one into the formula to compensate for the lack of natural transference. Always discuss supplementation with your doctor as individuals and children differ. Some of the best strains of probiotics to supplement breastfeeding include the following:

  • B. longum – this probiotic helps breakdown carbohydrates and doubles as an antioxidant.
  • B. breve – this breaks down plant fiber and helps to fight infection-causing bacteria. It also helps increase nutrient absorption.
  • L. reuteri – this probiotic strain is said to help the digestive system while decreasing bacteria responsible for tooth decay.
  • L. acidophilus – this strain is beneficial for women as it’s known to fight off vaginal bacteria.

Bifidobacterial and Lactobacillus are the two most common strains of probiotics (B. and L.). They help support the immune system, fight off harmful bacteria, break down lactose, and fuel your muscles. If you have any questions about the type of probiotics to take while breastfeeding, talk to your doctor for recommendations.

Benefits of Taking Probiotics While Breastfeeding

There are several benefits of taking probiotics while breastfeeding, but the full extent of these benefits is still unknown. Current research suggests that taking probiotics while breastfeeding can lead to some of the following benefits, but always discuss any individual risks with your doctor prior to starting a new supplement.

Improves Digestive Health

Probiotics are known to help support a healthy digestive tract. They can relieve gastrointestinal issues, keep bowel movements regular, increase the absorption of nutrients in food, and fight off certain conditions like inflammatory bowel disease. Nutrient absorption requires food to be properly broken down and probiotics work to break down proteins, carbs, and fats into nourishing food for your cells and organs.

Boosts Immune System

The efficiency of the immune system has been intricately linked to the health of the gastrointestinal system. Probiotics help to increase the number of good bacteria present, which improves the fight against the bad. Immune support through probiotics is transferred through breast milk and onto your baby, thus helping to manage and prevent autoimmune conditions and serious illness.

Deter Growth of Bad Bacteria

Many diseases and conditions are the result of an accumulation of bad bacteria or viruses. Probiotics help to deter the growth of harmful bacteria, leading to fewer illnesses and conditions over time. Probiotics are an all-around health monitor and protector, especially in developing children.

Produces Essential B Vitamins

Taking a probiotic is a good way to help fuel your body’s natural systems, especially in terms of producing essential vitamins and minerals. Probiotics have been found to help your body produce Vitamin B. Vitamin B is essential for skin health, helps improve the function of your nervous system, and can reduce your likelihood of developing anemia.

Prevents Eczema

Eczema is a common occurrence in newborns and is marked by high levels of dryness and varying degrees of irritation. Probiotics can help prevent the early onset of eczema by up to two years or longer. If your baby develops eczema, talk to your doctor about specialized lotions or creams to help alleviate any discomfort and reduce the severity of outbreaks.

Prevents Diaper Yeast or Rash

Probiotics can reduce the formation of yeast, which is often the leading cause of rashes in newborns. When your baby ingests probiotic-rich breast milk, you’ll help prevent diaper yeast or rashes from occurring.

Helps Postpartum Weight Loss

Since probiotics can help improve nutrient absorption and overall digestion, they’ve been shown to aid in postpartum weight loss. While this doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to eat anything and lose weight, it’s a good way to supplement your postpartum diet and exercise regimen to get your pre-baby body back on track. Since the bacteria in your gut play a role in hormone regulation and neurotransmitters, some studies show a link between probiotics and a reduced risk for postpartum depression.

Lowers Acid Reflux in Babies

Some babies experience acid reflux, which leads to the messy spit up new parents slowly begin to anticipate. While acid reflux isn’t necessarily a serious concern, probiotics can help lower its occurrence. This increases your baby’s comfort level and minimizes the number of bibs you’ll need to put in the laundry.

Prevents Thrush

Thrush is a common infection that’s caused by the overproduction of yeast. It’s most often found on the tongue but can occur in other areas. While it’s a little weird and can alarm new parents, it’s normal in newborns and tends to go away over time. However, thrush can get out of control and cause dry, irritated mouths. Probiotics help control yeast production, thus reducing the likelihood that your baby will experience thrush.

Helps Reduce Colic

Studies have shown that babies who ingest probiotics, whether through breast milk or in supplement form, experience reduced stomach pains and upset tummies. This can help reduce unnecessary colic and alleviate any issues. If your baby is still colicky, try to stay calm and help sooth them. Colic sometimes occurs for no reason, but it tends to be a passing phase.

Getting Probiotics Through Food

If you’re not comfortable with taking a probiotic supplement, or your doctor has advised against it, you can still reap some of the benefits by incorporating probiotic-rich food in your diet. Keep in mind that if you want to see the biggest impact, a combination of supplements and probiotic-rich food is the best way to do so. This is because many foods only have certain strains of probiotics in them, some of which aren’t as beneficial to developing babies. Some foods that have high levels of naturally occurring probiotics include the following:

  • Soft Cheese
  • Kombucha
  • Kimchi
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Yogurt
  • Tempeh
  • Kefir
  • Pickles


If any of these foods disrupt your stomach or cause problems, stop eating them and see your doctor. Some people are more sensitive to probiotic-rich foods than others, which can result in adverse effects. Start by slowly incorporating a few of these foods into your diet and gradually increasing intake over time.

A Few Safety Considerations Regarding Probiotics

While there are potential benefits to taking probiotics while pregnant, there are also some potential risks. Dietary supplements in the U.S. aren’t subject to stringent FDA testing. Always talk to your doctor about recommendations for supplements and whether it’s safe for you to take them. Probiotics can lead to mild gastrointestinal issues, infections, allergies, and other reactions. If you experience any adverse side effects, discontinue use immediately.

Breastfeeding is a great way to pass down probiotics and other essential vitamins and minerals to your baby. However, chances are that you’re not going to be able to exclusively nurse for the first 6 months of your baby’s life. To make sure that they’re getting all of the essential elements of breast milk, regardless of who’s doing the feeding, incorporate breast pumping into your routine. Breast pumping gives your partner a chance to bond with the baby, strengthens your milk supply, and allows working moms to return to the office. Byram Healthcare has a wide selection of insurance covered breast pumps at no out of pocket costs to you.