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Is It Safe to Take Acidophilus in Pregnancy?

By A. Gamm
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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According to most medical experts, it is generally safe to take acidophilus during pregnancy. In fact, some studies have shown that supplementing with this particular bacterium can actually be beneficial to both mother and baby, provided it’s done in moderation. There are some exceptions, however. Women who are lactose intolerant often respond poorly to supplements, and can develop symptoms like abdominal cramping and digestive distress. Most of the time these issues don’t threaten the fetus or the pregnancy, but they can be very uncomfortable and can weaken the mother more generally. These same symptoms can arise if the supplement is taken in excessively high concentrations. Additionally, women who are immuno-compromised are usually wise to avoid this and other bacteria-related supplements, and should consult a physician or other care provider before taking any supplements during pregnancy. For most moms-to-be, though, acidophilus is safe when taken in normal doses.

Understanding Acidophilus Generally

Acidophilus, also known as Lactobacillus acidophilus or probiotics, are a family of bacteria essential to digestion in humans and many animals. Strains are found naturally in the intestine, as well as several other moist body cavities including the vagina. It is considered good bacteria that aid in healthy digestion and help fight as well as prevent bacterial infections.

Strains of these bacteria are also readily available in many different dietary sources, particularly yogurts and fermented foods. The bacteria have been captured and synthesized into dietary supplements, normally in pill form, as well; these sorts of supplements are often promoted as a means of normalizing stomach acid and regulating digestive health, though some people also believe they are capable of improving overall health more generally. Pregnant women who are normally able to consume dairy products without issue don’t usually have a problem eating yogurts and other acidophilus-rich foods, and in many case this is actually encouraged because of the other health benefits associated with these sorts of snacks. Pills are more concentrated, but don’t usually pose any significant risks. Just the same, pregnant women should usually talk about dietary supplements with their care provider first in order to get a more personalized assessment.

Risk Factors

As is so often the case, there are instances in which the supplement might not be safe, though in the case of acidophilus these are usually related more to existing conditions in the mother rather than anything intrinsically wrong with the supplement. For instance, acidophilus in pregnancy may pose a risk to the mother or child if the mother is lactose intolerant, in which case discomfort or other adverse effects may occur. Women who have weakened immune systems are also recommended to not take probiotics, and conditions like HIV can make increased bacterial presences harmful even if those bacteria are “good.”

Potential Benefits

In the vast majority of pregnancies, though, supplementation is perfectly safe — and many even have some benefits. Several studies have shown that acidophilus may be used to prevent bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections, both of which women are more likely to get while pregnant. In conjunction to fighting and preventing infections common in pregnancy, it is further believed that using acidophilus in pregnancy may also aid in preventing premature delivery and might be able to help strengthen the developing baby’s immune system as well.

Dosing Suggestions

Normally, only one supplemental pill is needed each day, depending on the brand and the strength of each capsule or pill. In many cases, it may still be safe to continue to eat foods rich in the probiotic at the same time. If an antibiotic must be taken, it is usually recommended that the probiotic be taken two hours before or after the antibiotic for optimal results. It is further recommended that using acidophilus in pregnancy be discontinued between two and four weeks before expected delivery, but in most cases it can be picked back up during breastfeeding.

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Discussion Comments
By fBoyle — On Dec 06, 2013

I think every pregnant woman should take a good quality acidophilus supplement. It's not just beneficial for the mother, it's also beneficial for the baby. It builds the baby's immune system too.

By donasmrs — On Dec 06, 2013

@SarahGen-- Yes, I took an acidophilus supplement throughout my pregnancy. It must have worked because I didn't have any yeast infections. I was actually just taking it for digestive health. Acidophilus is great for digestion and helps prevent constipation. My sister also used it when she was pregnant, she had a urinary tract infection. She did wait until her antibiotics were over though because antibiotics kill acidophilus, so they sort of cancel each other out.

You should definitely take them now that you just finished using antibiotics. I'm sure it will protect from future yeast infections.

By SarahGen — On Dec 05, 2013

I'm in my second trimester and I just finished using an antibiotic cream for a yeast infection. I want to take acidophilus so that I don't develop another infection. My friend told me that she had a yeast infection throughout her pregnancy and I don't want the same to happen to me.

I will ask my doctor for an acidophilus supplement recommendation but I'm wondering if anyone here used one while they were pregnant? And did it work?

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