BY Benjamin Makeham & Rebecca Edwards May 5, 2020
The way a mother supports the health of their developing child is not only influenced by their genetics and level of nutrition, but also by the health of their entire microbiome (the gut microbiome, and also the vaginal and skin microbiome to name just a few).
Just as mothers pass down their genes to their children and provide them with the nutrients they need to grow, they also pass down their microbiome and have a great influence over the community of microorganisms that are beginning to colonise this new tiny human.
As more and more research is uncovering the many ways good gut health and a robust gut microbiome supports our overall health and wellness, it is becoming increasingly important to support healthy microbial colonisation in our children in order to give them the best start to life.
It is well known that a transfer of microbes from mother to child occurs via vaginal birth as the baby passes through the birth canal, and via breastfeeding through the milk and skin-to-skin contact that occurs during feeding.
Fascinatingly, new research is starting to reveal that this transfer of microbes may begin much earlier than expected. The passing down of microbes from the mother may begin in-utero, as the foetus is still developing, with beneficial microbes found in amniotic fluid, the umbilical blood cord, and the placenta of the mother. This newfound community is believed to be influenced by the microbes living in the gut and vagina of the mother.
With this in mind, it’s important for mothers to think about the health of their own microbiome leading up to and during pregnancy in order to support the most beneficial transfer of microbes to their children.
For mothers who are unable to have vaginal births or breastfeed their children, this new research offers a new perspective and may allow mothers new ways to support the health of their child’s microbiome.
While eating a wholefood diet rich in nutrition and dietary fibre is one of the best ways to support good gut health, probiotic supplements full of Lactobacillus species offer a way for mothers to populate their microbiome with billions of beneficial bacteria that support the health of their gut and vaginal microbiome (which is dominated by Lactobacillus species), providing an easy way to support optimal health in both themselves and their developing child.
1. D’Argenio V. The Prenatal Microbiome: A New Player for Human Health. High-Throughput [Internet]. 2018 Dec 11;7(4):38
To support a healthy pregnancy