One of the most difficult health challenges women face after giving birth is taking off those extra pounds. While a healthy diet and exercise are the key to loss of weight after pregnancy, a new study suggests that using probiotics during pregnancy may make the task of getting back into shape a little bit easier.
In this study which was carried out in Finland, it was shown that giving probiotic supplements to women during the first three months of pregnancy made loss of weight after pregnancy easier. When women were given probiotics supplements during the first few months of pregnancy, they had a lower body fat percentage and less abdominal fat at the end of twelve months than women who were given a placebo. This lower level of abdominal obesity is particularly important since excess abdominal fat has been associated with an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
While this study was small, involving only 256 women, it provides encouraging preliminary evidence that giving probiotics to enhance loss of weight after childbirth could be a safe and effective way to help women shed those extra pounds that could increase the risk of chronic disease. One issue that still needs to be addressed is how probiotics affect the health of the developing fetus, although experts believe the effect will be a positive one.
This is welcome news since many women experience difficulty losing weight after childbirth. With the demands of being a new mom, exercise can take a back seat to maternal obligations and the extra pregnancy weight and abdominal obesity can become a longer term health issue for some women. Losing weight after childbirth can be a particular challenge for women who gained more than the recommended twenty-five to thirty-five pounds during pregnancy. Giving probiotic supplements during the first three months of pregnancy could make post pregnancy weight loss easier for busy, time strapped moms.
Most experts believe that probiotic supplements are safe to use during pregnancy. Some studies even show that using probiotics during pregnancy decreases the risk of allergies in the newborn and helps to prevent bacterial vaginosis, an infection associated with an increased risk of pre-term birth in pregnant women. Although probiotic use during pregnancy is thought to be safe and even beneficial to both mom and baby, they should never be taken without medical guidance.
The bottom line? More research is needed to determine the exact role probiotics play in loss of weight after childbirth, but it appears that supplementing with these friendly bacteria may have benefits for both mom and baby.