When you’re expecting, you want to do everything you can to benefit the health of your baby, including improving your diet to up your nutrient intake. While prenatal supplements help, the best nutrition originates from eating all-natural, whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals the way nature intended. One such superfood all pregnant women do well to consume regularly is yogurt — either the dairy or non-dairy version. What are the benefits of yogurt for pregnancy?
While the food is high in calcium — a vital nutrient in fetal development — it also contains a ton of other vitamins critical to mother and child health, such as many of the B-complex vitamins. Read on to learn more about why every expectant mom can benefit from adding more of this delicious, nutritious treat into her diet.
1. Strengthened Bones for Mother and Baby
Expectant mothers need higher levels of nutrients than ordinary women, and women in general have higher calcium needs than men. Women are more prone to developing osteoporosis due to having thinner and lighter bones than a man’s on average. The additional nutritional demands of pregnancy can quickly strip a woman’s stores of this vital nutrient and leave her more prone to developing the disease later.
Furthermore, your developing infant needs calcium for their bones to grow and develop, making this one of the most important benefits of yogurt for pregnancy. Inadequate calcium and vitamin D intake among children can lead to a condition called rickets, in which the bones become porous and weak. Research indicates children with the highest calcium intake have the strongest bones.
2. Reduced Painful Inflammation
Women run higher risks of developing chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and fibromyalgia. The hormonal changes associated with pregnancy can trigger worse flares in those who already suffer such conditions and can lead to the development of these diseases in others. Researchers believe an intimate connection exists between the bacteria in the gut and inflammation, especially as conditions like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s share common treatment profiles with conditions like RA.
Scientific studies have long indicated yogurt’s effectiveness in balancing gut bacteria. Therefore, consuming more during pregnancy may stave off flares and prevent their development.
3. Improved Quality of Breast Milk
Female health experts have long suggested eating yogurt to women who experience premenstrual breast pain, as the food helps balance hormone levels naturally. In pregnant women, sore breasts can develop as they fill with milk. Eating yogurt may minimize this discomfort.
Eating more yogurt also helps stimulate milk production, so women getting ready to give birth and those who are nursing benefit from eating more. Adding fruit and granola to plain yogurt can provide additional nutrients and flavor.
4. Reduced Risk of Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is a potentially fatal complication that can develop during pregnancy. It impacts the blood pressure and multiple bodily organs and can kill both the mother and the developing infant. Because yogurt is high in probiotics, recent research indicates increasing consumption during pregnancy can reduce preeclampsia risk.
5. Added Tummy-Settling Probiotics
Pregnancy-related hormonal changes can lead to upset stomachs, and yogurt can help alleviate this suffering. Because of the probiotic content, yogurt encourages the proliferation of healthy stomach bacteria, leading to less bloating and discomfort. As many pregnant women experience issues with constipation and diarrhea due to hormonal shifts, eating more yogurt can help keep bowel movements regular.
6. Reduced Risk of Gum Disease
Pregnant women are more likely to develop gingivitis and periodontal disease due to hormonal changes. Saliva production changes allow bacteria to remain on and between teeth longer. While you’ll do well to brush twice and floss once daily and see your dentist regularly throughout pregnancy, eating foods rich in calcium can help reduce the risk of gum disease. As gum disease can invite bacteria into the bloodstream, this protects both your health and your unborn baby’s.
7. Minimized Hormonal Depression
Researchers have long suspected that inadequate levels of calcium and magnesium play a role in depression. As hormonal changes can lead to the development of depression in expectant and postpartum women, increasing yogurt consumption may help ward it off.
Magnesium also combats migraine headaches. Women who are prone to developing migraines during times of hormonal shift may benefit from the magnesium found in yogurt.
8. Eased Transition Postpartum
During the postpartum period, a woman’s hormones return to normal, and many women who choose to breastfeed benefit both their health and the health of their baby. Yogurt helps ease this hormonal transition and minimizes distressing symptoms such as hair loss after giving birth. Nutrient-rich yogurt — rich in omega-3 fatty acids — helps keep hair lustrous and skin supple. In women prone to stretch marks, a combination of yogurt and honey applied topically can help minimize their appearance.
The Many Benefits of Yogurt for Pregnancy
Eating more yogurt will benefit you greatly both during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Whether you prefer a vegan version or the dairy-based variety, the benefits of yogurt for pregnancy protect both your health and the health of your baby to be. Congratulations on your new bundle of joy!