10 Health Benefits Of Taking Probiotics While Breastfeeding

The truth is that many people think of breastfeeding as a way to feed their baby, but there is actually much more to it. It provides both nourishment and comfort to the child and it bonds the mother to the child in a very special way. It is also an instinctive behavior that helps to keep the newborn both happy and healthy.

That being said, breastfeeding does require a lot of time, energy, effort, and even sacrifice. When you eat something, it can easily pass on to the baby through the breast milk. That is why many mothers modify their diet during that time to keep the infants healthy. Even though you may need to curtail some of your habits, the sacrifice is well worth it.

There are many people who are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of probiotics. They are part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, but are they considered safe for breastfeeding mothers?

probiotics benefits breastfeeding

What Are Probiotics?

Although you can't see probiotics, they do exist. There are trillions of microorganisms inside of each human body, the thought of which is not a favorite for many people. When you think about what those microscopic organisms can do to help you stay healthy, however, you see the benefits. The gut is the place where you find more than 400 bacterial species. Those are good bacteria that help to keep your digestive system healthy.

Unfortunately, we tend to fuel our body with chemical laden food and it can diminish much of the bacterial population in the gut. It can leave our digestive systems weak but repopulating the gut with healthy bacteria is possible by taking a probiotic. Probiotics boost the friendly bacteria that can alter the microflora in your digestive system.

What Are The Benefits Of Probiotics During Breastfeeding?

Infants are born with fragile immune systems. The breastmilk you provide helps to build up the body of the newborn and keeps them healthy. When you breastfeed exclusively during the first six months of life, you are doing amazing things for their future health.

By adding probiotics to your diet, you help to boost the health of your newborn even further. Here are some of the many benefits of taking probiotics while nursing:

1. Benefits for the Mother

When you breastfeed, you diminish many of the nutrients in your own body. It can leave you with a weakened immune system. Eating foods that are rich in probiotics or taking a supplement, however, can help to build up your immunity. It also helps to regulate the metabolism, which tends to fluctuate during this time1.

2. Build the Immune System of the Infant

Your immune system includes many parts but up to 70% of it is associated with the gut. Adding a probiotic to your diet allows you to pass some good bacteria to the nursing child. In turn, this strengthens their immune system. Breastmilk, on its own, will have some benefit but adding probiotics helps the immune system of the child to mature faster.

3. Acid Reflux

A study published in 2011 in The European Journal of Clinical Investigation showed that babies being supplemented with probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri had fewer problems with reflux symptoms when compared to infants who did not receive the supplement2.

The conclusion was that probiotics helped with the digestion of food and emptied the stomach more quickly. This left less of a possibility for reflux conditions.

4. Constipation

An Italian study showed that it was possible to improve the stool consistency and bowel movements of infants by using probiotics regularly3. As a result, probiotics may help with chronic constipation in infants.

5. Preventing Eczema

Many newborns and babies suffer from eczema. When you add probiotics to your diet, it can help your baby to stay free of eczema during the first two years of their life4.

6. Diaper Rash/Diaper Yeast

Some cases of diaper rash are nothing more than a yeast rash. Probiotics may not have the ability to cure such an infection but they can help to prevent it when babies wear diapers for a long amount of time. It changes the amount of yeast in the digestive tract of the child.

Yeast probiotics may be of particular assistance in helping with diaper rash. It helps children to get over the issue faster in comparison with an antibiotic in some cases. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium are probiotic sources that can suppress yeast growth. Bear in mind that any probiotic should be given an hour or two after antibiotics so that is intolerance doesn't occur. Antibiotics may kill the good bacteria.

7. Colic

A BBC report revealed that one out of five babies are affected by Colic. It is sometimes thought to be associated with taking in too much air while they are feeding. Babies don't tend to experience this problem after they are six months old but during those first six months, life can get quite stressful for the parents and the baby. When a baby has Colic, they are also shown to have inflammation in the gut and need some healthy bacteria. Probiotics are known for helping to fight Colic because of the benefits they provide. Mothers would benefit by adding probiotics to their daily diet.

According to a study by Dr. Valerie Sung at Melbourne University, there may be a high chance that probiotics can relieve babies of Colic5. Whether or not it can help all babies to overcome the issue is not yet established.

Studies have also shown that taking a probiotic helps to reduce the average crying time significantly. The average for infants who received a placebo was 71 minutes, compared to 38 minutes for those who took a probiotic. The number of times a child vomited was also reduced from five times per day to three times per day. They also had four bowel movements daily on average, compared to 3 1/2 in the placebo group6.

When you consider the advantages, a mother with a colicky baby would certainly want to include a probiotic in their daily diet.

8. Thrush

Infant thrush is caused by yeast and is found as an oral infection or on the mother's nipples. The condition seems to appear without any known cause but it could also be an issue after taking a course of antibiotics. It's a painful and difficult condition that can last for a significant amount of time if it is not treated in a timely manner. Probiotics can help to reduce the issue.

9. B Vitamins

Humans need a healthy dose of vitamin B because it is essential for our metabolism, our healthy skin, nervous system and to reduce the possibility of anemia. Probiotics help with the production of vitamin B.

10. Additional Probiotic Benefits

  • They help absorb minerals
  • They eliminate toxins
  • They help digest certain carbohydrates
  • They are anti-inflammatory
  • They can help with certain disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, IBS, colon cancer, immune response, vaginal infections, diarrhea, cirrhosis of the liver and H. pylori infection.
  • They help control Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) in newborns or infants.

References: 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24033881, Vertical mother-neonate transfer of maternal gut bacteria via breastfeeding, 2014 Sep;16(9):2891-904. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.12238. Epub 2013 Sep 3 2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21114493, Lactobacillus reuteri accelerates gastric emptying and improves regurgitation in infants, 2011 Apr;41(4):417-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2362.2010.02425.x. Epub 2010 Nov 26 3. http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/L.-reuteri-benefits-chronic-infant-constipation-finds-Italian-study, L. reuteri benefits chronic infant constipation, finds Italian study, July 2010 4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11799376, Probiotics during pregnancy and breast-feeding might confer immunomodulatory protection against atopic disease in the infant, 2002 Jan;109(1):119-21 5. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-24426623, Probiotics 'soothe some babies with colic', 8 October 2013 6. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20140113/probiotic-drops-might-ease-colic-study, Probiotic Drops Might Ease Colic: Study, Jan. 13, 2014