Distribution characteristics of intestinal microbiota during pregnancy and postpartum in healthy women

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2022 Aug;35(15):2915-2922. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2020.1812571. Epub 2021 Feb 4.


The characteristics of microbial community changes in pregnant women are still unclear. To investigate the changes in gut microbiota during pregnancy and after delivery in healthy women, we enrolled 47 healthy pregnant women who received obstetric care in our hospital from October 2016 to April 2017 and obtained their fecal samples at different time periods: T1 (11-13 W), T2 (23-28 W), and T3 (33-38 W) during pregnancy, and PP6W (6 weeks postpartum) and PP6M (6 months postpartum). Based on 16S rRNA gene sequencing results, there was no significant difference (p > .05) in the index of alpha-diversity between the pregnancy and postpartum periods. Principal coordinate analysis indicated that gut microbiota clustering during the postpartum period was significantly different from that during pregnancy. Phylum-level comparison of species identified using T1, T2, T3, PP6W, and PP6M samples showed higher abundance of Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria, while the abundance of Bacteroidetes decreased. At the genus level, 31 types of bacteria were found to be significantly different among these five groups. Akkermansia, Bacteroides, Subdoligranulum, Oscillospira, Ruminococcacea UCG-004), and Alistipes showed higher abundance during pregnancy, while Bifidobacterium, [Eubacterium] rectale group and Hungatella showed higher abundance after delivery. Therefore, the diversity and function of the gut microbiota in healthy pregnant women remained unchanged during pregnancy; however, the composition of the intestinal microbiota in the postpartum period changed significantly. Our results provide the basis for in-depth studies of the composition of perinatal gut microbial communities in women.

Keywords: Gut microbiota; gastrointestinal microbes; postpartum; pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Parturition
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S