Your Pregnancy, Your Newborn and Gut Microbiota

Your Pregnancy, Your Newborn and Gut Microbiota

Why is your microbiome so important for your newborn?

Unless you have been marooned on a desert island you would have heard talk about the importance of the gut microbiota- so what about for preconception, pregnancy and newborns?

Early colonization during birth and post birth are essential for normal development of. . .
new born

  • Brain structure
  • The stress response
  • Behavior
  • Immune system development and maturation
  • Metabolism

For the new born, getting a head start through vertical transmission by vaginal birth is the key,

Unfortunately, newborns delivered by Caesarean section show marked differences in their microbiota which has been linked among other health risks to increased body mass and childhood obesity. So with babies born by Caesarean section we need to work harder to protect their gut microbiota in early life. (Salminen, S.Gut 2004: Blustein,J in J Obes 2013)
It’s not only the gut microbiome which is important, also the vaginal and nasal microbiome are critical. Researchers have found that Stress plays a big role in reprogramming the baby’s gut and brain. (Endocrinology. 2015 Sep;156 (9): 3265-76)


So factors that influence the vaginal ecosystem are. . .newborn 3
  • Body composition
  •  Infection
  • Antibiotic treatment
  • Stress
  • And most important of all. . .DIET

Often in our medicalised world antibiotics during labour are used as a preventative strategy against GBS infection, (Group B streptococcus/ group B strep) This is bacteria that normally lives in our bodies, statistics show that approximately one fifth of all women carry GBS without having any symptoms. In rare cases this may cause serious illness in newborns.
The use of antibiotics during labor leads to dysbiosis( imbalance ) of the vaginal flora and we now know that vaginal birth is a crucial step in the initiation of a health gut microbiome.

The gut microbiota and mode of delivery…

In vaginally-born babies, the bacteria destined for the gut microbiota originate primarily in the maternal birth canal and rectum. Once these bacteria are swallowed by the newborn, they travel through the stomach and colonize the upper and lower intestine,
Baby’s born by caesarean section don’t encounter the bacteria of the birth canal and maternal rectum. (If a caesarean is performed during labour the infant may be exposed to these bacteria, but to a lesser degree than in vaginal birth.) Instead, bacteria from the skin and hospital environment quickly populate the bowel. As a result, the bacteria inhabiting the lower intestine following a caesarean birth can differ significantly from those found in the vaginally-born baby.
Babies born by Caesarean have been shown to be at increased risk of eczema and asthma, the proposed link is that. When the composition of the microbiota is imbalanced, or unusual germs like Clostridium difficile appear, the immune system doesn’t like it. A low-grade, long-lasting inflammatory response directed at these intruders begins at birth, leading to a kind of weakness and “leakiness” of the intestinal lining. Proteins and carbohydrates that normally would not be absorbed from the intestinal contents—including large, incompletely digested food molecules—make their way into the infant’s bloodstream, which creates an inflammatory response leading to increased risk of eczema, asthma, diabetes and obesity in later life
Obviously there is a need for caesarean section and a vaginal birth does not automatically guarantee the acquisition of a healthy immune system as there are many other factors involved.
A caesarean section doesn’t automatically condemn a child to a lifetime of asthma or eczema, just as a vaginal birth isn’t a guarantee of perfect health. But caesarean birth, by altering normal gut microbiota and immune system development, does appear to moderately increase the risk of these and other chronic health conditions. A woman who has the option of choosing her mode of delivery should add this to the many other factors she must weigh in deciding how her baby will be born.
Research also show that During lactation low dose penicillen increased babies fat mass and altered metabolic hormones (increasing the risk factor for diabetes in later life),

It is not just the newborn who is at risk. . .

The first 6 months of a baby’s life when often they are taken to see the Dr. for ear infections and colds and coughs research has now confirmed that this antibiotic exposure leads to an increased body mass.
So at this critical window as a preventative health measure a baby specific probiotic is a key to normal development and health.
The good news is there is still a window of opportunity to improve the baby’s microbiome with the transition to food.
The scary statistic that comes out of all this research is that less than 10% of pregnant women meet the dietary guidelines for healthy foetal development.

So how can we improve this statistic?

Probiotic foods are those foods that support a health microbiome,

Such as. . .

  • Kefir yogurt
  • Yogurt containing cultures
  • Sauerkraut
  • Fermented vegetables
  • Kimchi
  • Tempeh
  • Miso
  • Soy sauce (Gluten Free preferable)
  • Apple cider vinegar

Prebotics Foods that increase numbers of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system, but also reduce numbers of pathogenic organisms. Breast milk is a fantastic prebiotic food particularly if the mother has a varied diet centred around vegetables


  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Chicory
  • Garlic, onion, leek, shallots, spring onion
  • Asparagus
  • Beetroot
  • Fennel bulb
  • Green peas
  • Snow peas
  • Sweet corn
  • Savoy cabbage


  • Lady finger bananas, custard apples, nectarines, white peaches, persimmon, tamarillo, water melon, Rambutan, Pomegranate
  • Legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, soybeans
  • Nuts: Cashews, Pistachio

The use of antibiotics is a hot topic and resistance is becoming a huge problem

Researchers are now linking dysregulated gut microbiome to mental disorders, so it is the key to preventative health care to start life with a healthy balance of beneficial organisms will give newborns a head start , after all we all want them to become healthy adults, and reduce their risk factors for chronic health conditions in later life.
(Biasucci G, Rubini M, Riboni S, et al (2010). Mode of delivery affects the bacterial community in the newborn gut. Early Human Development 86:S13-S15fe)


For pre or post natal support contact the clinic on 

9339 1999

to see Jacky Dixon, women’s health specialist and our fertility consultant.
Jacky Dixon
[email protected]