Wondering about probiotics while breastfeeding? Here’s information on what they are, how they work, and if they’re safe for nursing moms.
If you’re a first time mom and breastfeeding, you’ll need to pay close attention to the medications and supplements you take.
Pregnant women and breastfeeding moms provide vital nutrients to their babies. But, they can also pass along harmful substances.
Unfortunately, many health products that are good for moms, aren’t safe for babies.
So what about probiotics?
This post covers everything you need to know about taking probiotics while breastfeeding. Including information on what they are, how they work, and if they’re safe for you and your baby!
What are probiotics?
Before we dive into probiotics and breastfeeding, here’s some information on what probiotics are and what they do.
Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in our intestinal and digestive tract. And we all naturally have probiotics in our digestive system. These beneficial bacteria help us process food and keep bad bacteria in check.
But, they may dwindle from time to time.
Because of that, many people turn to probiotic supplements. These contain live microorganisms that help build healthy levels of good bacteria our bodies may be lacking.
What Probiotics Do
There are several different kinds of probiotic bacteria that live in our Gut. And each specific strain performs certain duties.
But, the most common strains for supplements are Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Acidophilus Bifidum.
These each play an important role in immune health and the overall health of the gut microbiome. Good bacteria may provide relief from yeast infections, urinary tract infections, eczema, diarrhea, constipation, and even gum disease.
Reasons for Probiotic Supplementation
Unfortunately, there are several factors that negatively impact the human microbiome. The microbiome is “the world of microorganisms that exists within the human body”. And these decrease the level of healthy bacteria in our bodies.
Here are some of the common reasons for decreased probiotic bacteria:
- Use of antibiotics after a bacterial infection
- High stress levels
- Consumption of processed foods
- Environmental toxins and chemicals
While probiotics have many benefits, they do have a couple of side effects. And these may include gas, bloating, and stomach fatigue.
Can you take probiotics while breastfeeding?
Yes, probiotics are safe for pregnant women and the breastfeeding mother.
In fact, naturally occurring probiotics help infants throughout pregnancy and postpartum. This healthy bacteria passes from mother to baby in the womb, transfers to the birth canal during labor, and passes through milk while breastfeeding.
Human milk is naturally probiotic and contains Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and Bifidobacterium.
Probiotics from Supplements While Breastfeeding
Additionally, probiotic supplementation may improve a baby’s gut health. However, it does so, indirectly.
Research shows probiotic supplements aren’t likely to transfer into breast milk. But, they can change and improve the body’s own production of milk.
In other words, a healthy microbiome provides optimal conditions for milk production. And therefore milk with a better microbial composition.
Probiotics may also:
- Protect babies from infection (diaper rash and yeast infection)
- Reduce acid reflux in babies
- Prevent colic
- Reduce the risk of thrush
- Prevent breast infection (mastitis)
- Increase the amount of milk produced by lactating mothers
- Prevent and treat eczema (atopic dermatitis)
Does your doctor need to know?
New moms should always talk to their healthcare provider before starting a new medication or supplement. So, just because probiotics are considered safe, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consult with your doctor.
And depending on your circumstances, your doctor may recommend one probiotic strain over another. This is because some strains have better scientific research and health benefits than others.
There are also instances when the health benefits of probiotics do not justify the risks. If a mother is immune deficient or has medical conditions like short bowel syndrome, it is not safe to take probiotics.
Probiotics from Food While Breastfeeding
You don’t have to take probiotics in supplement form while breastfeeding. You can also increase the number of probiotic foods in your diet.
Fermented foods are naturally filled with probiotics. And they’re also anti-microbial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory.
The Best Probiotic Foods
Here are some of the best probiotic foods to add to your diet.
- Kefir (fermented dairy milk)
- Kombucha (fermented tea)
- Kimchi (fermented vegetables)
- Soft cheeses
- Tempeh (vegan meat alternative)
- Dark Chocolate
- Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
And here are some foods other than probiotics that are helpful while breastfeeding:
- Oatmeal or oat milk
- Fennel seeds
- Lean meat or poultry
If you’re having problems with your milk supply, drink plenty of water and try incorporating some of these foods.
And you can also try these lactation cookies. They’re a yummy snack that may help with milk production, too.
While probiotics are safe while breastfeeding, there are some foods and substances that aren’t.
Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding:
- High-mercury foods like fish
- Foods your baby is sensitive to or allergic to (that cause baby to have an upset stomach, gas, fussiness, diarrhea, excessive spit up, rashes, etc.)
- Peppermint, parsley, and sage (these can limit human breast milk production)
You should also continue to use Tylenol (Acetaminophen) instead of Aspirin (Ibuprofen). And make sure any other medications you take are doctor-approved. This includes anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants.
However, you can consume alcohol, coffee, and soda in moderation. But be sure to follow the recommendations in this article if you are consuming those beverages on a regular basis.
More Breastfeeding Tips for First Time Moms
Now that we’ve covered the important things to know about probiotics while breastfeeding, here are some other helpful tips and tricks for new moms.
If you can, take advantage of a lactation consultant!
Your hospital may provide one after birth. But if not, you can seek out a professional when you get home. Or do some good research on your own.
You can add these to your baby registry checklist or purchase them as you need.
Here are some quality products to get you started:
- Lansinoh lanolin cream for sore or cracked nipples.
- Disposable or reusable nursing pads to deal with leaks.
- Silicone breast pumps to prevent engorgement and easily collect extra milk.
- Breastmilk storage bags to safely store expressed milk.
- An electric breast pump like the speCtra or Elvie pump to build up your freezer stash.
- Nursing tanks and tops and underwire-free nursing bras for easy access.
- A nursing pillow for more comfortable feeds.
- Nipple shields to correct sore or cracked nipples or correct lipstick nipple latch.
- Nursing overs that double as a car seat cover or one that can hook around your neck.
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Research shows that it’s unlikely for probiotics to pass through breastmilk. But, they may improve the quality and quantity of a lactating mother’s milk.
All probiotics are safe while breastfeeding, but you should always consult with your doctor before taking a new medication or supplement. Your healthcare provider can help you pick the best-researched products for your needs.
It’s unlikely that probiotics pass through breastmilk. So a mother’s probiotic use is also unlikely to make her baby gassy. But, it may improve the quality and quantity of her milk.
The Bottom Line
Here’s the bottom line on probiotics while breastfeeding:
- Probiotics naturally occur in the human body and breastmilk.
- These good bacteria help with digestive health, immune health, and general wellbeing.
- The amount of good bacteria in a woman’s body may decrease due to antibiotics, environmental factors, certain foods, and stress.
- The use of probiotic supplements may help restore proper gut health.
- Probiotic supplementation is safe for breastfeeding moms and nursing babies. And it’s unlikely that probiotics pass through breast milk.
- Probiotics may improve the quality and quantity of breast milk. They may also prevent infection in both mom and baby. And may help with colic, milk supply, and acid reflux.
- Always consult with your doctor before starting a new medication or supplement.
If this post was helpful, be sure to check out:
- The latest breastfeeding statistics and facts for 2022
- How to lose weight while breastfeeding
- 15 genius newborn baby hacks
- Proven newborn sleep tips for new moms
- Creative monthly baby photo ideas
- 115 unique first birthday party ideas
- 3 first time mom books worth a read
- The ultimate list of mom hacks
Did I answer all your questions about taking probiotics while breastfeeding? Let me know in the comments!