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You’ve been prescribed antibiotics?

Let’s see how you can help your gut flora by taking probiotics.

Pregnancy is such a wonderful time in which you are growing a lovely baby and most of the time it goes relatively smoothly. However, in certain circumstances antibiotics have to be prescribed to treat bacterial infections and they sometimes can create havoc in your stomach.

When would I need a course of antibiotics?

Whenever you have developed a bacterial infection and your doctor thinks that there might be a risk for your or your baby. Common bacterial infections during pregnancy include urinary tract infections and group B Strep. Your doctor will carefully choose the most effective antibiotics for the infection you have developed. Antibiotics are great at treating bacterial infections that can potentially be harmful however they also wipe out the good bacterias present in your gut flora and vagina too.

Side effects of taking antibiotics

Vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea,  bloating and indigestion, abdominal pain, loss of appetite.

How can I replenish my gut flora whilst on a course of antibiotics?

You might have read in magazines or even been told by your GP that taking a course of probiotics whilst taking antibiotics is beneficial to help the good bacteria in your guts. Indeed, taking probiotics -- health-promoting bacteria and yeasts -- during your course of antibiotics can replenish the good bacteria and help reduce some of the side effects of taking antibiotics, including diarrhoea. Probiotics are live bacteria that naturally occur in certain foods—from fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut or kimchi, to live-cultured yogurt.

Unless you have milk allergy or intolerance, adding probiotic-rich yogurt, kefir or a similar probiotic-rich food to your daily diet while taking antibiotics may be an easy and effective way to prevent from some of the side effects listed above and will add some beneficial bacteria to your gut flora. You can also find probiotics as supplements in all good health shops but it’s always better to discuss dosage and timing with a health practitioner.

Research is now backing up what naturopaths and nutritionists have been saying for many years, that adding probiotics to your diet (either ingested via a diet rich in them or with supplements) even when you are not taking antibiotics , has a very beneficial effect on your overall health. For example one study conducted in Taiwan at the Obstetric Department of the China Medical University Hospital, enrolled 110 pregnant women, all of whom had tested positive for Group B Strep infection (GSB) during routine vaginal and rectal screenings between 35 and 37 weeks of pregnancy. The women were asked to take two capsules of their randomly assigned probiotic or placebo treatment before bed each night, until their delivery day.

Vaginal and rectal swabs were taken again from all of the study participants as they delivered their babies, and the results were analysed. It was found that 42.9% of women from the probiotic group had become Group B strep negative during the time of the probiotic intervention.

More and more studies like this one are showing the great benefits of taking probiotics on a preventative basis to support good gut flora and good health. We’ve seen in a previous article how important keeping a healthy gut flora to maintain a healthy immune system is. This is even more so for a pregnant woman and her baby. And of course a healthy gut is mainly obtained by eating a diet rich in vegetables, nuts and lean meat and drinking plenty of water. Any refined sugars or refined foods are not the best of friends for your guts so have them but in moderation.

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