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Why Good Gut Health for Mums and Babies Is So Important

Why Good Gut Health for Mums and Babies Is So Important

Posted by Kelly Northey on 27th Oct 2019

More and more research is currently proving the importance of good gut health throughout our lives and linking gut health to overall wellbeing both physically and emotionally. 
While women's body's were made to carry children and go through labour, it doesn't mean they aren't placed under stress which in turn causes changes in our health throughout pregnancy or postnatally, often presenting itself in digestive changes and upsets to gut health causing bloating, indigestion, stomach upsets and yeast overgrowth conditions like Candida.
There's never a more vital time of life than the delicate time of pregnancy and new motherhood to ensure your gut health is looked after.

Hormones

Show me a new mother who doesn't feel like she's been on a hormonal rollercoaster ride thanks to the fluctuating hormone levels throughout pregnancy, during labour and afterwards, which can play real havoc with the gut biomes. 

More than 70% of pregnant women suffer a yeast infection at some point during their pregnancy (often occurring in the second or third trimester), meaning that many women are not starting out the road to new motherhood with the yeast balance in check.

Antibiotics

Many births or postnatal conditions like mastitis often require a course of antibiotics which can affect a mum's levels of good gut bacteria greatly and then this imbalance can in turn affect a breastfed baby as well. If a baby has also required antibiotics during this early postpartum period, then their gut health is also going to be further imbalaced. The likelihood of gut imbalance conditions like Candida is high for mums and babies postnatally.

Tell tale signs to look out for are white spots inside the mouth or on the lips, problems with gas, or nappy rash that just doesn't seem to completely go away.
It's important to ask a doctor if you suspect your baby has a yeast issue and the good news is they should be able to diagnose it quickly and easily.

This is why we're particularly passionate about providing new mums with breastfeeding products that DON'T contain yeast ingredients during this delicate time which can also further acerbate Candida in both mums and bubs alike. 

Stress

Motherhood is not only stressful physically both during pregnancy and afterwards, but it's also one of the most mentally and emotionally stressful times for many mothers - having an entirely new person to care for around the clock is a huge change to adjust to! 
All these types of stress are all known to cause upset to the good bacteria levels within the gut and stress will also draw blood away from the gut which makes digestion slower and harder than it should be.

Lack of Sleep

The sleep deprivation which is part and parcel of having a tiny human who needs care and feeding around the clock also places a mother's body under a different sort of stress which like all the other types can affect gut health as well. If sleep deprivation continues long term, the physical and mental effects can be far reaching!

Changes in Diet

Many cultures place a huge emphasis on providing nourishing food for mother's during the postpartum period to aid healing, help establish breastfeeding and help give both mum and bub the nourishment and adequate rest they need during this time.

While this is starting to become more of a focus in our western culture, especially through amazing services like The Golden Month which provides Tradtional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic based foods (like this Blood Nourishing Soup pictured right) and services to mums in their homes, there are still LOTS of mothers who struggle with ensuring they're getting adequate nutrition during this busy period. The focus is all around caring for your baby first becomes all encompassing, while trying to plan and cook proper nutritious meals often feels like the most difficult thing in the world to fit into the mix! 

What Can I Do To Ensure Good Gut Health For Myself & My Baby?

That saying about how you can't pour from an empty cup is never more relevant than it is to a new mother, especially one who's breastfeeding. So the most important thing you can do to ensure gut health is to ensure you're own is in check first, which for a mother means ensuring you're eating plenty of easily digestible and 'gut friendly' foods.

Broths

In many cultures, new mothers are given homemade bone or vegetable broths as these are easy to digest and contain collagen, gelatin and amino acids that help heal the gut and restore and rebuild tissues. Broth is often used to help provide relief to other conditions often stemming from the gut like eczema and arthritis too.


The beautiful thing about broth is that it's actually quite simple to make yourself if you don't have someone to cook for you and can be made in big batches in advance and frozen for you to just use conveniently after bubs arrives!
You'll find a simple recipe plus a list of other ways you can incorporate it into meals the whole family will enjoy and benefit from by clicking here.

Probiotic Foods

Yoghurt

Foods naturally high in probiotics are often quite convenient and easy for busy mums on the run to fit into their day!
The most common and easily found would be yoghurt and these days even if you or your baby are dairy intolerant there's plenty of fantastic dairy-free and lactose free yoghurt options available from supermarkets.
It's important to find a quality yoghurt however that is also as low in sugar as possible! One of our favourite lactose free brands is Barambah Organics who's entire flavoured yoghurt range is not only delicious but is also lactose free!
And for a completely dairy free option we enjoy the Kingland range of both flavoured and also natural greek yoghurts.
Other coconut based yoghurts are also great dairy-free, probiotic rich options for the whole family as well!

Sauerkraut

I know, we tend to think of sauerkraut as a traditional German food and not one we would usually incorporate into our meals, but this is definitely changing thanks to the creation of beautiful ranges like the Herbs of Life 100% organic range of sauerkraut, FULL of great gut-friendly probiotics and combined with other tasty ingredients like beetroot, ginger, turmeric, carrot, seaweed and caraway. Caraway is also a very well known 'galatogogue' or milk boosting herb too, making that particular sauerkraut variety a fantastic option for breastfeeding mums!
We've found we can add sauerkraut to so many things - as a topping on homemade pizzas (add after cooking to preserve the probiotic benefits), in salads of any kind, as a side of veggies with other meals - really the possibilities are endless.

Kombucha & Kefir

A great way to help keep well hydrated PLUS get a whole host of natural probiotic benefits at the same time is to either make your own kombucha or kefir drinks or buy a quality 100% natural options which are now readily available in all good health food stores and many supermarkets. 
Do be careful though, like we have found in the world of lacatation cookies, not all kombucha is created equally and there's some great tips you can read by clicking here to ensure you're only getting the best and most gut-friendly kombucha around!

Tempeh

If you already follow a vegetarian diet, you'll probably already be eating tempeh regularly as it's a fermented soybean product that has a nutty, earthy flavour that's quite similar to mushroom.The fermenting process to create tempeh  

Here in Australia, Nutrisoy make a range of flavoured tempeh that are easy to add into any stirfry dish instead of meat or to add a probiotic boost to salads quickly and easily. They also have a tempeh burger that takes hardly any time to heat up and can be enjoyed by everyone in the family!changes the phytic acid in soybeans which helps it to increase the amount of minerals your body can absorb from it more than non-fermented soybean products can. This same fermentation process also products some vitamin B12 which unfermented soybeans do not contain.

Some more great recipes to help incorporate tempeh into meals easily can be found here

Hopefully this post has given you lots of easy ideas to help both your own gut health and ultimately too that of your baby's and also your whole family - it's important for everyone's overall health and wellbeing!


**You'll find all the food brands mentioned in this post in your local healthfood stores or supermarkets Australia-wide and if you're looking for a local stockist in SA or the NT, please contact Bronhill Health Distributors who can point you towards your nearest store in these states.