Trying to avoid antibiotics during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a time when most women prefer to minimise the use of medications.
Some antibiotics are considered unsafe in pregnancy as they are known to cause harm to the baby. Those that are deemed safe for pregnancy are designed to eradicate all bacteria from your body, the good and the bad, so they're best reserved for when they are truly necessary.
If you contract a viral infection whilst pregnant, antibiotics are unlikely to be of much help, so boosting your immunity prior to and during your pregnancy is a wise choice to make.
Of course, you should never take unnecessary risks whilst pregnant. If you get very sick, don’t ‘tough it out’. Make an appointment with your GP and discuss whether medication may be the preferred option.
Here are my top immune boosting natural antibiotics that have not only been shown to work against bacteria, but have anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties too.
Surely sugar feeds bacteria? Yes, it does, and it would be an issue if you were eating a run-of-the-mill, processed honey, but manuka honey is VERY different. There is research documenting the use of manuka to treat burn wound patients and clinical studies have found that it can reduce tooth-decay causing bacteria in children. Of particular interest to pregnant women is that it's been shown to be effective against a number of different strains of the flu virus, which is welcome news for women who find themselves pregnant during the winter months.
Did you know our bacterial cells outnumber our human cells by ten to one? Probiotics are what we call our health promoting bacteria, without them the ‘bad guys’ can take over within the body, resulting in poor immunity and compromised gut function. A review of the literature conducted by UCD Obstetrics and Gynaecology department found that taking probiotics during pregnancy had the potential to reduce a woman’s risk of developing gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and pre-term labour due to infection. They also found that taking probiotics helped women to maintain a healthier weight while pregnant, which is an added bonus. Make sure to seek a high quality formulation that has multiple strains, in particular the lactobacillus strain, which has the biggest impact on maternal and foetal health during and after pregnancy. Apparently, taking a probiotic now could greatly reduce the risk of your baby experiencing atopic dermatitis as a young child, so these ‘friendly’ bacteria really are certainly worth the investment.
There are a hundred different ways of using this wonderful, health-promoting fat. It’s great for cooking stir-fries as it’s stable at high temperatures and it also happens to be a great anti-fungal. It’s particularly effective at dealing with Candida, which is good news for pregnant women as it’s safer than anti-fungal medications and won’t disrupt the natural balance of bacteria within the gut. Use it on your belly to help fend off those stretch marks.
There appears to be very little that raw garlic isn’t good for. It’s anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, has the ability to lower blood pressure, reduce cancer risk and has even been found to alter gene expression. That said, most people aren’t too fond of ‘garlic breath’.
TIP: A handy tip for taking it, which tastes great and just so happens to combine a number of the anti-microbial agents in this list, is to mix a teaspoon of manuka honey with a teaspoon of coconut oil and one clove of finely minced garlic. Taken in this way and washed down with some herbal tea or almond milk, you won’t taste the garlic but you will reap the tremendous benefits of each of these potent, immune-enhancing foods.
We’ve heard a lot about the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, and mothers are now advised to supplement their babies with vitamin D drops from birth, until it’s time to wean. However, few women are aware of the benefits of supplementing during pregnancy. While it is a fat-soluble vitamin (ie it can accumulate in the body), according to research from 2012, women should be supplementing 10 times the RDA of 400 iu. That’s 4,000iu, every day during pregnancy, which is far more than most women are taking, yet this dose was shown to have a perfect safety record and has a significant impact on your immune health during pregnancy. Studies indicate that women should aim for at least 80 nmol/L, so ask to have your Vitamin D levels checked along with your other ante-natal blood work at your first check-up, so your doctor knows how much you should be supplementing.