Building A Healthy Tummy

BIRTH

As a mother, your body naturally contains colonies of friendly bacteria that live in your tummy, skin and birth canal. The tummy microbiota, the friendly bacteria living in the tummy, plays a crucial role in maintaining tummy health. Building healthy tummy microbiota starts within the womb, but the first crucial moment is at birth. During a natural delivery, a baby encounters a lot of his mother’s friendly bacteria, which then make their way to his tummy, to form the first microbiota colonies.
Caesarian-born babies are exposed to fewer bacteria from the mother. This results in less diverse tummy microbiota, which means it will take them longer to develop the friendly community that is crucial for tummy health.

BREASTFEEDING

The type of milk your baby receives during the first few weeks of life has a big impact on the composition of his tummy microbiota. Breastfeeding supports the growth of diverse healthy tummy microbiota in several ways.
Breast milk contains friendly bacteria from the mother, as well as prebiotics. Prebiotics serve as food for the developing colonies of bacteria in a baby’s tummy. There are many different kinds of prebiotics in breast milk, and each one helps support a different type of bacteria. And as you hold your baby close to your body and face, groups of friendly bacteria from your skin are also passed on to your baby, adding to the diversity of his tummy microbiota.

WEANING AND SOLID FOODS

After six months on an exclusive milk diet, the tummy will have developed enough to be able to handle solid food. Weaning is a major transition period, for the development of the tummy as well as the microbiota living inside the tummy. As new foods are introduced, new types of bacteria will also be introduced, changing the whole balance in the tummy.
A diet that contains a wide variety of foods will not only provide the nutrition that your baby needs, it also encourages healthy, diverse tummy microbiota. Some foods like cereal and vegetables contain dietary fiber, which serve as prebiotics. Other types of food also contain probiotics, colonies of friendly bacteria, which help to increase the diversity of a baby’s tummy microbiota.
Proper weaning practices also help reduce the risk of allergies. As the tummy develops, it needs to learn the difference between safe and beneficial components, and those that are harmful. If certain foods are introduced too early, it can confuse the developing tummy and result in allergies, a state where the tummy triggers a false alarm against safe nutrition.

7 TOP TIPS TO BUILD A HEALTHY TUMMY FOR YOUR BABY

  • 1

    If you cannot undergo a natural delivery, you can talk to your doctor about how to encourage the growth of your baby’s healthy tummy microbiota.

  • 2

    During pregnancy, make sure your diet is rich in prebiotics, for example onions or garlic, and probiotics, for example yoghurt.

  • 3

    It is important to breastfeed exclusively from birth until your baby is at least six months of age.

  • 4

    If you are unable to breastfeed, you can ask your doctor about how to support your baby’s tummy health.

  • 5

    Frequent skin-to-skin contact, even if you are unable to breastfeed, is good not only for bonding, but also for your baby’s tummy health.

  • 6

    Studies show that moderate abdominal massage helps tummy development and can improve tummy function.

  • 7

    Give antibiotics only if prescribed by your doctor.

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