Keeping a healthy balance of bacteria in the vulva and vagina is super important for a woman's overall well-being. However, during pregnancy, an imbalance in this delicate ecosystem can affect the growing baby. That's why it's extra crucial during pregnancy. Sadly, this essential information doesn't always get the attention it deserves in prenatal care, and many women miss out on knowing these important facts.What’s the Role of the Microbiota?
The normal vaginal flora (good bacteria), acidic pH, and discharge, form a crucial barrier against infections. The good bacteria in the vagina keep the environment acidic, fight off harmful bacteria, and make substances that kill them. This team effort helps keep the vagina healthy.
During pregnancy the microbiota changes. It is commonly observed that levels of Lactobacillus, a beneficial type of bacteria, tend to increase during pregnancy. This is considered a normal and healthy response. Lactobacillus plays a crucial role in maintaining the acidic pH of the vaginal environment, which helps to prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and pathogens. This natural increase in Lactobacillus during pregnancy is believed to contribute to a more favorable microbial balance, which is important for the overall health of both the mother and the developing baby.
During this time women are also more sensitive to any disruptions in the vaginal microbiota. Therefore, it's extra important to maintain good hygiene practices and avoid anything that can disrupt the microbiota or pH balance. It’s very important to seek medical advice promptly if there are any signs of infection.
Vaginal Infections and Pregnancy Risks
If a pregnant woman has an untreated vaginal infection, it can in worst cases cause serious problems like miscarriages, premature birth, and even fetal death. Studies also show that having a higher pH level, even without an infection, increases the risk of preterm birth.
For pregnant women, it's important to protect against Group B Streptococcus. If it's not taken care of, it can lead to premature birth, meningitis in the newborn, or even losing the baby. It can also cause urinary tract infections, infections in the reproductive tract, or problems after giving birth. Having a healthy balance of bacteria helps defend against Group B Streptococcus.
Dr. Rebecka Kaplan, a specialist in gynecology and obstetrics, explains that when a child is born vaginally, it is naturally exposed to the mother's microbiota, which provides the necessary bacteria to stimulate its immune system. Consequently, an imbalanced vaginal microflora can also affect the child's susceptibility to infections and increase the risk of developing allergies and asthma.
What Causes Microbiota Alternations in Pregnant Women?
- Antibiotic Use: Antibiotic treatment disrupts both gut and vaginal microbiota by reducing beneficial bacteria.
- Stress and Psychological Factors: Stress and psychological well-being can influence the gut microbiota, and this can in turn affect the vaginal microbiota.
- Sex: Sex can introduce new bacteria into the vagina and affect the composition of the microbiota.
- Hygiene: Not taking care of hygiene properly in the genital area can throw off the natural balance of bacteria and pH levels.
Ways to Address These Issues
How to Cleanse the Vulva to Avoid Microbiota and pH Alternations
Within the folds of the vulva, dirt can build up and cause infections if not cleaned properly. Soaps, even the gentle ones, can mess with the pH and natural bacteria when used on the vulva. That's why it's best to clean with a vegetable and organic oil. Our Cleansing + Moisturising Oil Prebiotic + Postbiotic is the first intimate cleanser to be awarded the Kind to Biome mark. This means it's been proven not to harm the natural bacteria balance.
"Incorrect or overly frequent washing of the vulva during pregnancy can disrupt the lactobacilli and create a breeding ground for complications. 1-2 times a day is adequate for most women.” Dr. Rebecka Kaplan