from mercola.com: The microbes that reside in your gut are very much a living, and integral, part of you. Far from being just passive bystanders, the bacteria are impacted by your health, your lifestyle and even your life stages – and they actively change in response to different periods of your life, like pregnancy. The composition of a woman's gut microbes actually changes during each trimester of pregnancy in ways that support the growth of the fetus. This is largely influenced by the hormonal shifts that occur during pregnancy. Interestingly, for the first time, research has shown the microbes actually become less diverse and the number of beneficial bacteria decline while disease-related bacteria increase. Under normal circumstances, such changes could lead to weight gain and inflammation, but in pregnancy, they induce metabolic changes that promote energy storage in fat tissue so the fetus can grow. The study's lead author noted: "The findings suggest that our bodies have coevolved with the microbiota and may actually be using them as a tool -- to help alter the mother's metabolism to support the growth of the fetus." The importance of gut flora continues during and after birth, and may have a profound influence on the baby's health and development. An article in Science Daily reported on the featured findings of one related study, stating: "Each individual's community of gut microbes is unique and profoundly sensitive to environmental conditions, beginning at birth. Indeed, the mode of delivery during the birthing process has been shown to affect an infant's microbial profile. Communities of vaginal microbes change during pregnancy in preparation for birth, delivering beneficial microbes to the newborn. At the time of delivery, the vagina is dominated by a pair of bacterial species, Lactobacillus and Prevotella. In contrast, infants delivered by caesarean section typically show microbial communities associated with the skin, including Staphylococcus, Corynebacterium, and Propionibacterium. While the full implications of these distinctions are still murky, evidence suggests they may affect an infant's subsequent development and health, particularly in terms of susceptibility to pathogens."