It's no secret that probiotic use has many health benefits with impacts on the digestive system immunity, and mood. If you're wondering what the best probiotics while pregnant are for a healthy pregnancy, stress no more, we're going to cover our top picks for various health conditions and tips to avoid adverse effects!
Below, discover the benefits of probiotics, my midwife's group B strep protocol that allowed me to be GBS negative with my second baby, and loads of research and tips to find the best prenatal probiotic for you specifically, whether you're struggling with constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, UTI's or looking to simply support you and baby during pregnancy!
- Best Probiotics While Pregnant
- Overall Best Probiotic For Pregnancy: Needed Probiotic ★★★★★
- Best Probiotic During Pregnancy For Constipation: Pink Stork Pro ★★★★
- Best Probiotic For Pregnancy Yeast Infection + UTI: Ultimate Flora Bloom Probiotic ★★★
- Most Affordable Probiotics While Pregnant: Garden Of Life ★★
- Best Chewable Probiotic When Pregnant: Culturelle Women's Wellness Probiotic ★
- How To Choose The Best Probiotic For Pregnancy:
- Safety: Is it OK to take probiotics while pregnant?
- Benefits Of Probiotics During Pregnancy Backed By Research:
- FAQS about Prenatal Probiotics:
- Can you take pre and probiotics when pregnant?
- When to start probiotics in pregnancy:
- Are shelf stable probiotics as good as refrigerated?
- What are other ways to get probiotics during pregnancy?
- Can probiotics help if I’m GBS+?
- Midwife GBS protocol:
- What is the best probiotic recommended by doctors?
- What is the best probiotic for vaginal health?
- Final Thoughts:
Overall Best Probiotic For Pregnancy: Needed Probiotic ★★★★★
Needed's probiotic is BY FAR the best prenatal probiotic I've found! It's an expertly-formulated and tested Prebiotic & Probiotic formula for pregnancy, postpartum and while breastfeeding.
It includes the two most studied probiotic strains of bacteria that have been found effective in pregnant women with overall positive results (Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri). These have been found to promote “healthy gut bacteria.” As well as spore based strains that limit the growth of harmful bacteria.
I was GBS+ with my first baby, so I made it my mission to be GBS- with my second. My midwife recommended I take this probiotic, which doesn't have any of the lactobacillus strains, because it's solely sporebased (specifically: Bacillus subtilis) to inhibit the growth of “bad bacteria.” I didn't love that it was missing the “good bacteria.”
So for the first and second trimester, I basically switched off every few days between the spore based probiotic my midwife recommended and this prebiotic/probiotic formula to get the benefits of the different probiotic strains. It was annoying and I couldn't figure out why I couldn't find one that just had both!
Then I found this one! And it's PERFECT in my opinion! It's has the most studied and proven strains, plus the spore based strains to promote a healthy microbiome.
It's a prebiotic/probiotic combo. So basically it's putting in the good bacteria, and feeding the gut flora (prebiotic), while the sporebased strains limit the growth of bad bacteria. You can read all about the science here (and use code TCM for 20% off your order!).
- Prebiotic and probiotic combination
- Limits “bad bacteria” growth
- Backed by research
- Vegan friendly and free of allergens
- Great for pregnancy, postpartum and breastfeeding
- 2 medium sized pills daily may be hard for some women to swallow
Best Probiotic During Pregnancy For Constipation: Pink Stork Pro ★★★★
If morning sickness, upset stomach, diarrhea or constipation and everything else is making you feel like pregnancy glow is beyond your reach, Pink Stork Pro is a great prenatal prebiotic that includes seven different probiotic spore-enhanced strains.
There’s also a prebiotic to aid in boosting the probiotic benefits. This 30-day supply comes from a woman-owned business and features vegetarian capsules. And since it’s free from gluten, dairy, wheat, GMOs, sugar or artificial sweeteners, and soy, it’s ideal for vegans and people with sensitivities.
- Prebiotic and probiotic combination
- Vegan-friendly and free of allergens
- Helps with nausea, indigestion, + constipation
- Contains spore based strains to prevent “bad bacteria” from growing
- Doesn't contain Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri
Best Probiotic For Pregnancy Yeast Infection + UTI: Ultimate Flora Bloom Probiotic ★★★
It’s no secret that yeast infections and UTIs are painful. And for some women, pregnancy can increase the frequency of these unenjoyable scenarios. The Ultimate Flora Bloom Probiotic Supplement for Vaginal Health is a multifunctional solution that not only offers pre and probiotics to aid in digestion, but cranberry and D-mannose to tackle urinary tract health.
This 30-day supply not only works to balance your pH but also helps to control vaginal odor and irritation, bacterial vaginosis, and aids in preventing Group B Strep. This is another multi-strain supplement with four strains of lactobacillus with a delayed release mechanism.
- Also supports urinary tract health
- Helps to balance vaginal pH
- Delayed release capsule
- Prebiotic and probiotic formula
- Contains all 3 most studied probiotic strains
- No spore based strains to prevent “bad bacterial” growth
Most Affordable Probiotics While Pregnant: Garden Of Life ★★
Personally, I don't love it because Garden of Life was bought by Nestle and I think the quality of their products went down, which allows for the more affordable price point. With that said, I certainly think a prenatal probiotic like this one with Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Lactobacillus reuteri and other beneficial strains is better than no probiotic at all while pregnant!
This once daily probiotic supplement contains Lactobaccilus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria for digestive health and constipation relief.
- Contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri
- Dairy free, gluten free, soy free, and vegetarian
- Prebiotic and probiotic formula
- Owned by Nestle (may not be best quality ingredients)
- Plastic bottle probiotic arrives in is plastic #7 which is the most toxic type of plastic (may contain BPA).
- No spore based strains to prevent “bad bacteria” from growing
Best Chewable Probiotic When Pregnant: Culturelle Women's Wellness Probiotic ★
If you prefer chewable pills Culturelle Women's Wellness Probiotic is a special 3-in-1 formula designed to support your feminine health along with digestion and immunity that's also pregnancy safe. It's a multi-strain solution featuring 12 billion CFUs of probiotics that include five of the most common Lactobacillus strains, but is missing Lactobacillus reuteri.
We like that the fruit flavored chewable is free of top allergens like nuts, gluten, soy and dairy. Plus, there are no artificial dyes or preservatives. More importantly, it can be taken as a companion to your daily prenatal vitamin.
- Easier to take chewable form
- Supports feminine health along with immunity and digestive health
- Not the cleanest ingredients (contains “natural flavors” which is an unregulated term that often hides not-so-great ingredients)
- Missing Lactobacillus acidophilus + Lactobacillus reuteri
- No spore based strains to prevent “bad bacteria” from growing
How To Choose The Best Probiotic For Pregnancy:
There are a wide range of options when it comes to picking a probiotic. But most experts agree that multi-strain probiotics offer more benefits than a single strain option. This is because multiple strains means you’re providing more biodiversity which means better health.
The most common strains with proven benefits include:
- Lactobacilli (specifically acidophilus, reuteri and rhamonus)
- Saccharomyces Boulardii
- Lactococcus lactis
There's also been a rise in spore-based probiotic which limit the growth of “bad bacteria” in the gut. Limited research currently exists on this with pregnant women, but midwives are often recommending this to their patients currently and we are starting to see more and more prenatal probiotics offer this as part of their multi-strain formulas.
However, spore based probiotics are not always the right choice for everyone. It's always best to consult with your healthcare provider who knows your unique situation before starting a new supplement.
– Prebiotic + Probiotic Combo:
Prebiotics feed the probiotic, so it's typically recommended to opt for a prebiotic/probiotic formula to ensure you are actually feeding the “good” bacteria you are putting in with the probiotic supplement, making it more effective.
With that said, they might not be the right option for everyone. Pregnant women who struggle with an imbalance in gut bacteria, or who have histamine problems may find that taking prebiotics makes those conditions worse. It's always best to consult with your health care provider who knows your unique situation before starting a new supplement.
– Quality + Allergens:
Ideally, you want to avoid filler items like dyes, sugar, and artificial ingredients. Many prenatal probiotics are free of the common allergens like dairy, soy, gluten, and fish; but you'll still want to double check the ingredients.
Additionally, while most probiotics are naturally vegetarian or vegan, some manufacturers use fillers or casings that many not be, so be on the lookout for that.
– Spore based or not:
Spore-based probiotics are slightly different than the traditional probiotics that everyone talks about. They include ground-based probiotic strains normally found in the dirt that aren’t native to the human digestive tract. Because of this, they’re considered hardier and are more resistant to stomach acid. That increased durability helps these strains reach the intestines.
But they can also be incredibly potent and may not be well tolerated by everyone. In particular, research suggests that because they’re more durable, they have the potential of overtaking other bacteria in the gut — leading to an imbalance. So, much like with prebiotics, women with a compromised immune system or a digestive imbalance might want to avoid spore-based probiotics.
To learn more about specific spore-based probiotics, check out this podcast interview with research microbiologist Kiran Krishnan who explains the huge benefits of these unique spores.)
Safety: Is it OK to take probiotics while pregnant?
According to the American Pregnancy Association, both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Library of Medicine have concluded probiotics don’t appear to have any risks during pregnancy
Benefits Of Probiotics During Pregnancy Backed By Research:
Group B Strep + Preterm Births
A 2018 review across 49 publications found that probiotics didn’t pose an increased risk for preterm birth or any other dangers for both mom and baby. In fact, premature births can actually be triggered if mom doesn't have enough healthy vaginal flora by allowing pathogenic bacteria to get into the amniotic fluid which can cause early contractions.
Digestion + Constipation
One of the most obvious benefits of taking probiotics is that it can improve gut health. In particular, multi-strain probiotics can improve bacteria diversity in the gut — which is critical for a healthy gut and better digestive health. Likewise, probiotics can improve constipation, a common issue pregnant women face.
Probiotics have long been touted for improving vaginal health. In particular, a good probiotic can help to decrease a woman’s chances of developing a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy. In particular, studies have shown that probiotics can prevent the growth of yeast and improve the vagina’s pH level.
Pretty much everyone can use an immunity boost and probiotics can provide that. Considering that pregnant women are now trying to support two bodies, a safe way to improve immunity is ideal. While studies on this benefit weren’t conducted in pregnant women, research suggest that taking a probiotic that contained lactobacilli (one of the most popular probiotic strains) helped to reduce the risk of catching the flu.
Although more research is needed to further verify, evidence from a recent 2020 study suggests that taking probiotic supplements can reduce a woman’s chances of experiencing pregnancy-related complications or preterm delivery.
Staying healthy is critical when you’re pregnant, and a common concern during pregnancy is controlling blood sugar to prevent developing gestational diabetes. Research suggests the role of probiotics during the first trimester may decrease the likelihood of gestational diabetes compared to pregnant women who just ate healthy. Recent studies have shown that regularly taking a probiotic during pregnancy can help to reduce blood sugar and insulin levels — and can even benefit women diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
A probiotic while pregnant has been linked to improving the placenta health so baby has better nutrition in the womb.
Baby's Health After Birth
And if fears of baby eczema are keeping you up at night, research has also suggested that taking a probiotic during pregnancy can reduce the risk of eczema and atopic dermatitis. Even the World Allergy Organization (WAO) recommends that women with a family history of allergic diseases should take a probiotic during pregnancy.
In addition, as previously noted, Lactobacillus probiotics may help to prevent Group B Strep – the most common causes of neonatal sepsis and meningitis.
It has also been shown to improve baby’s immune system.
FAQS about Prenatal Probiotics:
Can you take pre and probiotics when pregnant?
Yes, pre and probiotics for pregnancy are safe, even during your first trimester. If you were already taking them prior to getting pregnant, you can continue to do so as they’ve been shown to not pose a risk to either mom or baby.
Research has consistently shown that probiotics don’t increase the risk of preterm delivery or pregnancy-related complications.
When to start probiotics in pregnancy:
Much like prenatal vitamins, you can actually begin taking probiotics before you become pregnant. Probiotics are also incredibly effective at supporting vaginal and gut microbiome health — making them a smart choice for overall healthy regardless of whether you’re pregnant or not.
Are shelf stable probiotics as good as refrigerated?
The verdict is still out on whether there’s a discernable difference between shelf stable and refrigerated probiotics in terms of efficacy. If you’re concerned about potency, one option is to consider incorporating a spore-based probiotic. Spore-based probiotics are slightly different than traditional probiotics.
They feature ground-based probiotic strains that tend to be more resistant to stomach acid — which means that these types of probiotics are able to reach the intestines. While this can aid in improving gut health along with overall health, they’re not without drawbacks. Spore-based probiotics tend to be more potent, which means some people may experience side effects when taking them.
Ultimately, it really depends on the quality of the ingredients the manufacturer uses. Which is why it's important to always purchase supplements from brands you trust and have researched in our opinion.
What are other ways to get probiotics during pregnancy?
If you’re still hesitant about taking a supplement, know that probiotics can also be naturally found in many fermented foods. For example, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and kefir are all great options.
And of course, adding yogurt that contains active cultures can also aid in boosting gut health.
And if fermented foods don’t necessarily appeal to you — considering pregnancy aversions to smells and tastes — there are plenty of other probiotic-rich options like garlic, onions, asparagus, and artichokes.
Can probiotics help if I’m GBS+?
Yes! Even if you've tested positive for Group B Strep, it's not too late to change your status!
You can follow the below protocol from my midwife and ask your healthcare provider to retest you after 2-3 weeks. Make sure to continue with the protocol until you deliver baby, as group B strep status can change frequently.
Midwife GBS protocol:
In addition to an oral probiotic throughout pregnancy, my midwife recommends taking 1/4 of a probiotic pill as a suppository every other day for two weeks leading up to the GBS test. This is based on the research being mixed on oral probiotic effectiveness on the vaginal flora with suppositories seeming to work best.
Basically you break one of the pills, pour it on a plate, divide into 4 equal sizes, dip your finger into one portion, and put it in your vagina (sometimes you need to dip in the mix a few times so it sticks).
In addition to the probiotic, she recommends taking garlic capsules or eating lots of garlic and probiotic rich foods (sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, etc.).
What is the best probiotic recommended by doctors?
Needed's probiotic was designed by experts and backed by research and the most complete prenatal probiotic we've come across.
With that said, every individual is different and there’s not one specific probiotic that’s recommended by all doctors, experts agree that you should opt for a supplement that includes at least one billion colony forming units (CFUs). Also prioritize the well-researched bacteria which includes Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces boulardii.
What is the best probiotic for vaginal health?
If vaginal health is a priority, then you’ll want to focus on probiotics that contain Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus). This is probably the most researched strain for probiotic benefits regarding vaginal health. However, L. rhamnosus and L. reuteri are also beneficial in supporting vaginal health.
The most complete prenatal probiotic for vaginal and gut health we've come across is Needed's probiotic which was designed by experts and backed by research.
The use of probiotics are beneficial before, during, and after pregnancy. Along with aiding in digestive and gut health, research has shown that probiotic supplementation also supports vaginal health, can help control blood sugar during pregnancy, improves digestive issues, and can even help to reduce the potential for skin conditions like eczema occurring in your baby. Plus for pregnant women looking for symptom relief, probiotics can help minimize morning sickness, diarrhea, and constipation.
If you’re looking for a complete solution to support you and baby throughout your pregnancy and postpartum, then Needed's probiotic is the best option I've found. Click here to save 20% with code TCM!
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Originally published 7/29/21; Updated 10/20/23