Probiotics in Pregnancy May Reduce Postpartum Depression

Other than your prenatal vitamin, you may try to avoid medications and supplements during pregnancy. But there is one supplement you might want to reconsider. Research on the benefits of probiotics during pregnancy is somewhat limited but there is growing evidence they may help you and your baby stay healthy. And the latest study concludes probiotics in pregnancy may reduce postpartum depression.

An Overview of Probiotics

Probiotics are healthy microorganisms including bacteria and yeast that are present in the intestinal tract. They are often known as healthy bacteria because they are associated with some terrific benefits for your entire body. Introducing more probiotics through fermented foods (such as miso soup, kefir and yogurt) or a probiotics supplement can increase the population of healthy flora in the gut. The two most common types of probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Probiotics in Pregnancy May Reduce Postpartum DepressionProbiotics in Pregnancy May Reduce Postpartum Depression

New research shows one of the benefits of probiotics during pregnancy for mothers may occur after childbirth. Postpartum depression and anxiety affects approximately one in nine women who give birth. But a study from the University of Auckland and the University of Otago showed taking probiotics in pregnancy may reduce postpartum depression and anxiety by 50%.

Different probiotics supplements contain different strains of healthy bacteria and in varying doses. This study proved promising results for the specific L. rhamnosus HN001 supplement. Different supplements may not yield the same results but the findings are a positive potential strategy for a serious condition many new moms face.

Probiotics Help Babies’ Microbiome

Probiotics are a healthy part of the body’s microbiome. That is, the community of microorganisms that live in the gut. Babies do not develop a microbiome prior to birth but they can start doing so at birth.

With the help of probiotics, healthy bacteria can accumulate in the vagina. Babies born via vaginal birth get their first dose of probiotics when they emerge into the world. Their microbiomes start in the healthiest possible way. Breastfeeding then continues to populate the gut with probiotics, especially if a mother continues to take probiotics supplements and eats a diet rich in probiotics. Plus, breastfeeding securely seals the intestines to prevent a “leaky gut” that can introduce harmful microbes into the microbiome.

Through recent research, experts discovered that even babies born via c-section can benefit from healthy bacteria in the vagina. In a procedure known as seeding, c-section babies can be colonized in their mother’s vaginal bacteria to reap some of its incredible advantages.

Probiotics Support a Healthy Immune System for Moms and Babies

In general, probiotics support a healthy body and especially a healthy immune system. Since immune health relies heavily on a healthy microbiome, keeping moms-to-be and their unborn babies healthy are among the benefits of probiotics during pregnancy.

Feeling weak and rundown, needing to take prescription medication or contracting infections that can spread to babies are certainly not ideal during pregnancy. A strong immune system helps moms and babies avoid these potentially harmful circumstances.

Sources: Mothering, Natural News, American Pregnancy and Mind, Body, Green

Postpartum Depression Felt in New Fathers Too

Postpartum Depression Felt in New Fathers Too Becoming a new parent (especially for the first time) can be a period of rough transition for some moms and there are important signs to watch for if you think you or a loved one is affected by postpartum depression. New fathers are also prone to feeling symptoms of depression too, a new study shows, and can display features of postpartum depression that linger up to five years after the birth of their child.

While raising a baby is a time of immense joy and excitement, it also presents new schedules, responsibilities, and the pressure of learning how to parent on the fly. The study, which was conducted by researchers from Northwest University and appears in Pediatrics magazine, also notes that younger men (around 25 at the time of their child’s birth) experience symptoms of postpartum depression that have a 68% chance of increasing over the next five years. This statistic applies to men who live at home with their partner and child; interestingly, men in the same category who live separately from their partner and child but still parent are less likely to experience depression with the same intensity or longevity.

A new baby changes the environment a couple once knew and coping with those changes, along with parenting expectations, is one way to help combat postpartum depression. Flexible schedules, freedom to go out on a whim, a full night’s sleep—all of those lifestyle features are put on hold when raising a newborn, and this perceived loss of control can be hard for a dad to accept. Keep the lines of communication between you and your partner open and honest as a way to save both of your sanity; admitting that he needs time to himself does not make any dad a lackluster father, so being appreciative of each other’s feelings and congratulate each other on the little things that make you great parents.

If you’re worried about your partner or another new dad you know, seek advice from a doctor or counselor that can recommend what steps you should take to help. Knowing that other new parents feel the same as you or your partner do can help, but sometimes it takes a licensed professional to administer the proper care to help combat postpartum depression.

Benefits of Breastfeeding: Benefits for Moms

The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous.  Breastfeeding gives our babies a healthy start in life, and it gives mothers many health benefits as well.  Studies are overwhelmingly positive about the direct physical and emotional benefits moms get from breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is linked to lowered risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, cardiovascular disease, Type II Diabetes and osteoporosis.  Skin-to-skin contact from breastfeeding produces the “closeness hormone” oxytocin, which promotes emotional health and reduces post-partum depression.  Breastfeeding mothers also tend to return to their pre-baby weight faster.

Happy Mommy & BabyThere are also many indirect benefits of breastfeeding.  Because a nursing mother’s baby has a stronger immune system, the entire family is likely to get sick less.  Being sick less often saves families, and society, a great deal of money over the course of the family’s lifetime.  Speaking of money, breastfeeding is also a more economical option overall!

 

Breastfeeding is a gift to your child and yourself.  Take the time to relax and enjoy your healthy breastfeeding habit.  It is one addiction all doctors recommend!

The Loving Moments of Breastfeeding for Mom’s Emotional Well-Being

Happy baby and mommyThe benefits of breastfeeding are numerous, both for baby and mom.  But did you know that breastfeeding can actually make you happier?  Yes, our bodies are quite amazing and those “Loving Moments” you spend with your baby can warm you with a smile both inside and out.  There are three hormones that can evoke happiness from breastfeeding.  Here’s how it works:

The hormone that produces milk in your body is called prolactin and it relieves stress and promotes relaxation.  The hormone that stimulates the release of milk, or let-down, is called oxytocin; this causes calmness plus feelings of love and nurture.  For that reason it is often called the “bonding hormone.”  And finally, breastfeeding releases endorphins, the body’s natural analgesia and feelings of well-being.

Not only can we feel great about providing our babies the healthiest nutrition possible from our breast milk, we can also feel this “natural high” from the hormones breastfeeding produces.  Many researchers believe that nursing moms experience less postpartum depression and are less exhausted in the early months due to the hormone rush from breastfeeding.  And because new moms are more relaxed about their new role in life, they are often more responsive to their babies and find it easier to bond.

Happy breastfeeding, mamas! (pun intended!)

Amy Berry
Amy is a lactation consultant and proud momma of 7 (yep seven!) wonderful children all breastfed and a Loving Moments fan!