Prenatal supplements are a routine recommendation in the realm of prenatal care, forming a significant part of a healthy, pregnancy foundation.

Now, we might see the addition of probiotics on the “prenatal supplement list,” the result of a recent study out of New Zealand that found a link between probiotics and decreased incidences of postpartum depression.

Study Shows Probiotics During Pregnancy Reduces Postpartum Depression

Researchers in New Zealand were interested in seeing whether probiotics play a role in maternal and fetal health. They found women who took high-quality probiotics both during their pregnancy, as well as for the six-months afterwards, had decreased risk of postpartum depression.

The double-blind study looked at 423 different women, divided into two groups. The women took a pill, once daily, through their pregnancies and for the 6-months after their babies were born. The first group took a probiotic strain of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 (HN001), the other took a placebo.

Women who took the probiotic reported:

  • Lower incidences of depression
  • Reduced anxiety

While probiotics are not considered a treatment for postpartum depression at this point, we suspect they will increasingly be viewed as a preventative tool – along with things like a supported birth plan, labor and delivery, breastfeeding, healthy diet, exercise and other lifestyle choices.

Lead author, Rebecca Slykerman, says, “Furthermore it takes several weeks for the therapeutic effect of antidepressants to appear, and there is a 15-30 percent discontinuation rate. Safe and effective therapies to prevent and treat postnatal depression are needed.”

Why Would Probiotics Make a Difference?

Our bodies have more than 1000 different “pro” or positive bacteria that live on us – and in us. These bacteria do good work –keeping bad bacteria, yeast and other fungus in check. They are especially integral to the process of digestion – where probiotics are required for nutrient absorption and reducing inflammation – among other things.

Vaginal health is also related to probiotics. We now know babies born vaginally ingest critical flora and fauna as they move through the birth canal – probiotics that set the foundation – along with colostrum/breastmilk – for lifelong digestive health. Another example is yeast infections, the result of yeast populations overpowering the probiotic culture of the vaginal tract.

probioticsProbiotics are found in most whole, or unprocessed, food sources – including fruits and vegetables grown without the use of pesticides/herbicides, yogurt, cultured foods and fermented foods – like kefir, true sauerkraut and kombucha tea.

Science and medicine are still unclear as to the entire role probiotics play in human health. What we do know is that they are important at many levels. For example, the American Pregnancy Association states that probiotics are understood to help with:

  • Eczema and other skin conditions (dermatitis)
  • Digestion
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Infection and/or antibiotic-related diarrhea
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

The APA also references recently published research that found probiotics seem to reduce a woman’s chances of developing gestational diabetes.

Interested in working with obstetricians and midwives who completely support your pre- and postnatal health? Contact the team at Overlake.