PROBIOTICS AND BREASTFEEDING

THE ROLE OF PROBIOTICS BEFORE AND DURING LACTATION.

PROBIOTICS AND THE BREASTFED BABY.

 

Babies receive beneficial bacteria from their mothers during vaginal birth and via breast milk. Human milk also contains special sugars that seem to selectively nourish the necessary gut bacteria (Yong, 2014). Babies receive the initial colonization of their microbiome from their mothers during the birth process. The mode of birth (cesarean vs. vaginal) can affect this initial colonization of the microbiome in newborns. Mothers undergoing emergency cesarean surgery after laboring had milk microbiotas closer to those of women who delivered vaginally than women with elective cesareans (Dominguez-Bello et al., 2010).

These microbes not only help growing humans digest the milk they drink, but also help to keep infection away. Indeed, the immune system of newborns is temporarily depressed in the weeks after birth in order to give these beneficial bacteria an opportunity to colonize their gut (Reardon, 2013). Immunoglobulin A (IgA or SIgA) is an antibody found in adult human bodily secretions (mucus, tears, saliva); we manufacture about a teaspoon every day. For newborns, the only source of IgA that they have is mother’s milk. These maternal antibodies provide benefits to the intestinal immune system of the breastfed infant that persist into adulthood (Rogier et al., 2014).

Human milk has its own microbiome that helps to protect mothers and infants (Quinn, 2014). Human milk is now recognized to contain numerous factors that, in turn, set up the immune system to have fewer chronic illnesses later in life (Yong, 2014). Oral intake of probiotic supplements can affect the microbes present in breast milk: Jiménez and colleagues (2008) found that mothers given supplemental Lactobacillus from three strands--Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus fermentum, and Lactobacillus salivarius--showed transfer of these strands to the milk. The researchers successfully trialed the use of Lactobacillus salivarius and Lactobacillus gasseri as a treatment for infectious mastitis during lactation.

 

PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENTATION.

 

Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC, of Kellymom.com, recommends that probiotic supplements be used prophylactically to prevent thrush whenever mother or baby has to take a course of antibiotics (Bonyata, 2011). Prebiotics, soluble fibers that stimulate the growth of probiotics in the gastrointestinal tract, can also be a helpful component in probiotic supplements.

 

 

Prebiotics are also present in a number of foods, and intake from food is usually more effective. Prebiotics are present in asparagus, burdock, chicory, dandelion root, Jerusalem artichoke, leeks and onions, grains, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, radish, and rutabaga.

 

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PROBIOTIC AND MASTITIS.

 

In some cases, new mums can develop a painful inflammation of the breasts called mastitis. It usually occurs when milk ducts become blocked due to ineffective emptying of the breasts during breastfeeding. The trapped milk can quickly become infected with bacteria entering the breast through sore or cracked nipples leading to an infection that might require antibiotic treatment.

Studies have shown that an oral supplement with lactobacilli strains can reduce the number of pathogenic bacteria and lead to a faster recovery. Probiotics have also been recommended to prevent thrush episodes following the antibiotic treatment.

 

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COLICKY BABY

 

Probiotics have also been used to treat colicky babies after a study showed that the strain Lactobacillus reuteri reduced crying episodes among affected infants. Moreover, there is growing evidence for their role in lowering the risk of allergies, including allergic reaction known as eczema, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), obesity and coeliac disease.

The colonisation of the gut with probiotics has not been fully understood. Babies have their first contact with gut bacteria when they go through the birth canal. Afterwards, in addition to breast milk, probiotics are also found on the surface of breast skin and in infants’ mouths. The research suggests that there is some bacterial interaction during breastfeeding where microorganisms can be exchanged between an infant’s oral microbiota and the breast milk.

 

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GUT HEALTH.

 

This post is strictly informational and should only serve as a starting point for a conversation between you and your medical provider about the best supplements for pregnancy in your specific case.