Midwife Pip Podcast Episode 88.
The power of our gut health on our own wellbeing is incredible but then when we
uncover the power that it has on our children it is nothing short of mind blowing.
Such simple changes that can literally have life changing consequences all because
of the amazing microbes in our gut.
Improving our children’s health through our gut health
The area of gut health is something of huge personal interest of mine, in fact I began
researching it when I decided to try for a baby. The reason being my husband has a
history of allergic conditions- asthma and eczema and I had read that there were
things I could do in pregnancy to lessen my child’s chance of developing eczema,
asthma and allergies… and the more I researched the more in awe of gut health I
What is ‘Gut Health’ and the ‘Gut Microbiome’?
We often associate the term “bacteria” with something harmful. However, many are
actually essential to our health. The microbiome is trillions of bugs, mainly of
bacteria, that live on our skin and in our gut. Gut health/microbiome have become
buzz words in the health world. The gut microbiome is a critical component of an
individual’s metabolism and overall health. Over 100 trillion bacteria reside in the
human intestinal tract, these make up the gut microbiota.
Why is Pregnancy such an important time to consider Gut Health?
The development of the human gut microbiome begins before, meaning your baby’s
gut microbiome is beginning to be shaped whilst you are pregnant.
Nutrition in pregnancy is arguably one of the most powerful tools we can use to
influence the health of ourselves, our pregnancy, and our growing baby. There is a
growing body of exciting evidence to suggest that our Gut Microbiome forms an
essential part of this.
Newborns of mothers with a less healthy gut microbiome have been associated with
an increased risk of autoimmune conditions in the future, such as type 1 diabetes,
asthma, coeliac disease, and allergic rhinitis.
Newborns have a low immunity when they are born as their body is still developing
the immune system, at this time they are more susceptible to infection and illness. A
healthy gut microbiota is one way of supporting their immune system, but there are
also other ways to help prevent them becoming ill in this critical period, read here for
more information on how to help your baby with this: www.aptaclub.co.uk/midwifepip
Babies born through the vagina are exposed to their mother’s microbiome at the time
of birth, so the health of your gut influences directly that of your newborn. Evidence
does demonstrate that newborns born via caesarean section receive their mother’s
skin microbes, and this is linked to delayed development of their intestinal
microbiome compared to babies born vaginally.
We know that mode of birth can be unpredictable and around 25% of women in the
UK give birth by caesarean section. This highlights the importance of optimising gut
microbiome in pregnancy to maximise the potential to transfer these healthy bacteria
to your newborn.
Breastfeeding provides another very powerful time in which a new mum can
influence the health of their newborns gut microbiome. In the final weeks of
pregnancy evidence shows that some of the mother’s healthy gut bacteria actually
migrates into breast tissues and therefore into their breastmilk which can be passed
to their baby during breastfeeding. Breast milk contains prebiotics which promote the
growth of a particular bacteria (Bifidobacterium) in the large intestine, which helps
your newborn establish a healthy microbiome.
How can we improve our Gut Microbiome?
There is good evidence to demonstrate that a healthy, thriving gut microbiome has
many important health benefits such as reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity
as well as improved immune function.
Here are some Top Tips:
The term “eat a rainbow” is really relevant- A diet full of variety and colour
including plenty of wholegrains, pulses, nuts, fruits and vegetables is the best
way to boost your gut health.
Changing up your weekly shop to incorporate different types of fruit or
vegetables and mixed seeds and grains are easy ways to do this.
Think of trying a new variety each week or changing orange carrots for purple
Kefir yogurts are also a convenient and effective way to add some good
bacteria into your daily routine.
There is also some evidence for probiotic supplementation should you require
These small changes can have hugely powerful benefits for your health and the
development and future health of your new baby.
For more on ‘Improving our children’s health through our gut health‘ listen to Midwife Pip Podcast Episode 88 HERE.
Available on all Podcast Platforms.
'On this weeks episode I am joined by Lucy Upton, children's dietician and feeding specialist 'to unpick the truths about gut health in relation to our little ones.'
p.s. have you checked out Midwife Pips Courses
The Author: Midwife Pip
Pip is a Mum, Podcaster and practicing Midwife in the UK, currently working as a Delivery Suite Sister she has a wealth of experience supporting parents-to-be through all aspects of pregnancy, birth and the postpartum. Pip has trained and worked in some of the leading maternity units, has completed a master's programme and is passionate about all aspects of women's health and wellness.
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