Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that aid with digestion of food and creating an overall healthy gut. Most people associate bacteria with a negative, but probiotics are essential to health.
During pregnancy, the vast increase in the hormone progesterone can cause the gut to slow digestion and ultimately lead to constipation. Progesterone is essential to a healthy pregnancy by maintaining the uterine lining. So while we want high progesterone to protect our baby, it can also have some unpleasant side effects.
Some simple ways to decrease or avoid constipation in general and during pregnancy include:
- Drinking enough water – This helps to keep things moving along easily
- Eating foods high in fiber
- Eating vegetables
- Avoiding processed sugars as these feed and encourage the “bad” bacteria to grow
- Making sure you are eating probiotics
Probiotics are easily found, and you may already be eating them and not even know it. Sources of probiotics include:
- Yogurt – look for “live active cultures” on the label or listed in the ingredients
- Kombucha – A fermented tea
- Kefir – A dairy blend
- Fermented sauerkraut – not just pickled in a can, but fermented
- Raw milk – Non-pasteurized and Non-homogonized
- Fermented pickles – not just pickled in a jar, but fermented
- Kimchi – Fermented cabbage
The fermentation process of these foods is what creates the probiotic environment. Simply purchasing a can of sauerkraut at the store will not suffice. There are a few store bought brands of fermented pickles and sauerkraut available at specialty food stores, but you can also make your own at home very easily. Check out this Pin on my Pinterest board for fermented pickles.
As always, opt for organic whenever possible. Dairy is especially important to consume organically because of the added hormones and antibiotics given to conventional dairy cows. Organic yogurt will also be free of all artificial food dyes and flavors.
You may note that there are also probiotic pills and supplements available. I can not personally recommend them. I am careful when choosing any supplements and often opt for food sources rather than pill sources. If you choose to take a probiotic supplement make sure you research the brand and ingredients carefully.
To all my fellow pregnant mamas out there, constipation is normal but it doesn’t have to cause you a problem. If you are going several days without a bowel movement, then you really need to focus on your gut health. It will make you feel more comfortable overall, have easier bowel movements and create a healthy probiotic environment for your baby which is important during vaginal delivery.
*I am not a Registered Dietitian or Physician and my viewpoints on nutrition are not intended as medical advice. I encourage you to do your own research and speak with your health care provider if you have questions related to your health.*