*Guest post by Nurse Wendy of Boobie Bar
I get it: You’ve got a new baby, a new (and likely radically different) life and very little time to, or for, yourself. It’s hard to fit a single extra thing into your day. But one thing you want to make sure to do as a new mom, especially if you’re nursing, is to take a daily probiotic, that magical concoction of gut-protecting, immune-boosting healthy bacteria.
In addition to the benefits that probiotics bring to the general population (think treatment and prevention of diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, vaginal yeast infections and eczema, to name just a few), they offer perks specific to nursing and new moms. Here are five.
Probiotics keep you regular.
Constipation is the bane of many new moms, whether due to a lack of exercise, less-than-stellar eating habits or too-few fluids, or the gut-slowing effect of pain killers. Probiotics work by feeding the gut “good” bacteria that make it healthy, which makes going to the bathroom easier. Because who wants to strain with an episiotomy?
They can treat—and even prevent—mastitis.
Studies have shown that certain strains of probiotics are useful in treating mastitis, a painful breast infection that afflicts approximately one in five breastfeeding women. In fact, a 2010 study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases showed that women who took either Lactobacillus fermentum CECT 5716 or Lactobacillus salivarius CECT 5713 to treat mastitis actually fared better than those who took an antibiotic, with better improvement rates and lower rates of recurrence.
What’s more, taking probiotics during pregnancy might even prevent mastitis from developing in the first place. A 2016 study, also in Clinical Infectious Diseases, found that women who took Lactobacillus salivarius PS2 during late pregnancy had a significantly lower rate of mastitis after delivery. And when mastitis did develop, the women who had taken the probiotic had bacterial counts in their milk that were significantly lower than those who hadn’t taken it.
Probiotics are a MUST if you had or will need to have antibiotics!
As important as antibiotics are for treating bacterial infections, they’re not very discerning, meaning that they kill off all bacteria in your body, good and bad. So if you took an antibiotic during pregnancy, whether for a urinary tract infection (common among pregnant women) or for Group B strep (also common), you could really benefit from restoring the good bacteria that were lost by taking a healthy daily dose of a high-quality probiotic.
They can also ward off painful yeast/thrush.
The normalcy of frequent nursing, coupled with the nipple damage moms sometimes experience in the early days of breastfeeding, sets the stage for developing a painful yeast infection known as Candida albicans, or thrush. Yeast thrives in warm, moist, dark, sugary environments, which makes lactating breasts the perfect breeding ground if nipple damage is present.
The good news is that the healthy bacteria in probiotics can help prevent Candida from multiplying and causing a problem for you—and your baby’s mouth. (Thrush can be passed from your breasts to your baby’s mouth, causing a fungal infection for him, too.)
Probiotics will just keep you healthier.
A full 80 percent of your immunity lies in your gut, so the healthier you can keep that gut (with the avalanche of good bacteria that probiotics bring), the healthier you’ll be. And at a time when you’re not sleeping much or taking such great care of yourself due to the 24/7 demands of a new baby, you need all the help you can get.
Wendy Colson, R.N., IBCLC, R.L.C. (aka Nurse Wendy), has more than 20 years of experience in maternal-child health as a nurse in the neonatal intensive care and postpartum units, and as a lactation consultant in hospitals and private practice. She is the CEO and founder of Boobie Bar, the first herbal lactation bar formulated to support a healthy milk supply.
Interested in learning how probiotics can also support the health of your little one? Head to our Probiotics page!