Why your gut health during pregnancy can affect your baby's long term health consequences

“All disease begins in the gut”

This well-known quote from the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates was shared nearly 2500 years ago, yet it is only now with our medical advancements and technology's that we are coming up to speed with his findings and understanding of the human body.

The bugs and germs that we have been so diligently told to kill, eradicate and control are actually quite beneficial for us. We are in fact made up more of microorganisms than we are genes and these tiny microscopic bugs have some big controlling powers when it comes to our health and longevity, particularly during pregnancy when the mother's microbiome has the powerful role of laying the foundational hardware for her offspring - setting them up for a life of wellness or sickness.

I have recently learnt first-hand the power of my own microbiome after finding a reason for my heartbreaking 5 year battle with infertility. You see, I had horrible bugs that had run rampant throughout my system - they caused fatigue, body aches, pains, a troubling neurological tremor/shake, anxiety and a horrible postnatal depletion period that I don't want to re-live. AND, I probably had them from birth (can you imagine! That is 39 years of havoc in my body). These sneaky bugs were also signalling gene pathways, activating some very scary conditions that my family had lost loved ones to. Having an answer and solutions (finally) has been one of the biggest revelations of my life - that Disease DOES start in the gut! They really is the foundation of health.

So what's the connection between these bugs, pregnancy and childhood health?

Enter the concept of 'The First 1000 Days' - a philosophy and now incredible educational course for Parents-to-be and Birth Educators, created by Functional Nutritionist and Best Birth Co Ambassador, Emma Park.

I am so thrilled to bring this critical and important course to you (actually there are three, Pregnancy, Postnatal and one for Birth Workers)! It is obviously a topic that is close to my heart, one that I think should be read, understood and talked about by everyone. Our bodies, families and communities need this information to thrive! That is why I have added it as our very first addition to our shop. I believe in it SO much.

Adding this to your birthing tool kit will empower & set yourself and your child up for the bright and exciting future that awaits you. We want the very best for our children, which is why ensuring our microbiome health is optimal will help us (& our babies) thrive in every facet of life.

You deserve the very best health during your Postpartum journey too. Let's not forget that a healthy Postpartum period means more strength, energy, better recovery and will also ensure any future babies have the very best start to their exciting future (if this is something you envision)!

As a Birth Worker, the information included in Emma's course will enhance the level of support and knowledge you bring to each client session. Gut health affects birthing outcomes, breastfeeding, postpartum health and so much more - imagine being able to share this with your client's first-hand?

But enough from me... I'll hand it over to Emma - she is after all an expert in this field.

Take it away Emma.....

The First 1000 days

The importance of the Microbiome

The First 1000 days is the time from conception to 2yrs old and is a crucial time for making new humans. It's a super important time to optimise your health and wellbeing in general but it is a CRUCIAL time to look after and optimise your MICROBIOME…

Your microbiome is all the microbes that live on and in you (with the greatest concentration in the GUT) but ALL body sites have a microbiome and the health, balance & diversity of the microbes greatly determine the health & function of the body site – and the human as a whole..

We have many more microbial cells, and much more microbial DNA than we do human – essentially, we are a HOST for our microbiome!

The microbiome is always important – but becomes incredibly important in preconception & pregnancy, as mums > you pass you microbiome on to your baby.

Think of yourself as the ‘Custodian of your Baby’s Microbiome’..

Modern life is fraught with ‘microbiome disruptors’ > diet, lifestyle, stress, environmental toxins & medications (particularly antibiotics) & birth interventions.

As a result, we’re seeing babies born to mums with very compromised microbiomes already, this is then compounded by the increasing rate of medicalised births & interventions. Our new little humans are really ‘up against it’ when it comes to establishing a healthy microbiome in the First 1000 Day period.

We really need to increase education & awareness around this as research confirms infants with disrupted microbiomes at any stage, but particularly in the early stages (up to 12 weeks) have increased risks for MANY diseases and conditions across the lifespan;

Infections, Allergies, Asthma, Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease, ASD, Autoimmune etc (the list goes on…)

Birth is the time babies have their first major exposure to mum’s microbiome (ideally to the VERY specific microbes in the birth canal & vagina + some fecal flora) & then breastfeeding becomes the most significant factor shaping the infants developing microbiome until they wean.

Think of the common story of ‘disruptors’ we see for mums & bubs these days;

  • Antibiotics at any time previous to, & in pregnancy and/or stress, environmental toxins & poor diets = already compromised microbiome

  • Potential Interventions in Birth > C-section, GBS positive, synthetic oxytocin induction, epidural (etc) resulting in > no exposure to beneficial birth canal flora, increased exposure to ‘abnormal’ hospital bugs, lack of natural physiological hormone cascade and more antibiotics = further impacts to microbiome and interruption of first major transfer of microbes from mum to bubs

  • Increased likelihood of suffering birth trauma (1 in 3) = impacts mother baby bonding, mothering experience, mental health, recovery, breastfeeding outcomes etc

  • Poor breastfeeding rates > all of the above ALSO greatly impact Breast Feeding outcomes = Lack of breastmilk and/or increased likelihood of formula exposure. Breastmilk contains all the components specifically designed to modify & nurture a babies developing microbiome. It also must be considered a personalised medicine for baby. Formula contains free sugars that feed a very different microbiome & many also contain cow’s milk protein which can have long term impacts on the developing IMMUNE system. This is not about shaming mums that have trouble breastfeeding – we have very poor support systems in place for helping mums & lack of education around the importance (this is a whole other blog post!)

So think about all of those confounding factors – it’s no wonder our microbiomes are so damaged

(and our western, affluent countries are the worst) think of it similarly to the global crisis – it really is mass extinction!..

It’s no wonder our microbiomes are so damaged

This is why I was compelled to write The First 1000 Days online program for mums & maternity care