Ashley Harris was two weeks past her due date when her son, Hudson, made his appearance four years ago. It was a life-changing day in more ways than one. Because Ashley had tested positive for group B strep during her pregnancy, she received antibiotics as a routine part of the 26-hour delivery.
Her 9 1/2-pound baby was healthy. Everything seemed normal—as in, sleep-deprived and stressful normalcy. It took a while to discover that things were not as normal as she thought. Both she and her infant son had an imbalance in their gut bacteria. That discovery, and the subsequent successful treatment, led Ashley to co-found LoveBug Probiotics with her husband, Ben.
The company’s supplements deliver the friendly bacteria that make up the microbiome in our digestive system—to the tune of 15 billion “bugs” per daily dose, via a patented delivery system that ensures the specialized blends of bacteria strains provide the maximum benefit to the baby, child, or parent who’s taking them. The newest product release came earlier this summer: Labor of Love, a probiotic supplement designed for pregnant and nursing moms.
Here we spoke with Ashley about the benefits of probiotics, her career path, and how to handle mom guilt.
INKLINGS OF TROUBLE
“We got home and [Hudson] was incredibly colicky, crying incessantly. We didn’t know why. When you’re a first-time mom, you see it as your lot in life. I noticed I had a weaker immune system and started getting migraines. A few months out, both Hudson and I started developing patchy, dry, red skin. I’d never had anything like that and knew eczema wasn’t contagious. [After probiotics] Hudson was a totally different baby. Not only that but I started feeling better than I had before I was pregnant. I was fascinated, and I wanted to understand the science of probiotics. I read everything I could get my hands on.”
STUDYING THE SCIENCE
“Seventy million people in the U.S. alone have digestive problems. I learned about how antibiotics not only kill the bad bacteria, but the good as well. Today, 80 percent of antibiotics in the U.S. are now given to livestock, which are the animals we consume on a regular basis. This impacts our microbiomes. Fiber feeds the good bugs in our guts, yet in today’s world where the Standard American Diet is laden with processed foods and sugars we’re not getting enough of the good foods and too many of the bad. I was shocked to learn that children 2 and under are prescribed more antibiotics per capita than any other age group, it’s no wonder that so many of us are getting sick. I don’t want to come across as anti-antibiotics. They do save lives. But even the CDC tells us that they’re prescribed too often.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO
“The two really important things are taking an effective probiotic that gets past the stomach acid barrier … and eating healthier foods. I’d recommend cutting out all sugar, or limiting it as much as possible. The reason being, sugar is what the bad bacteria in our guts feed on, thriving and spreading in the forms of candida and leaky gut.”
UNEXPECTED CAREER PATH
“Before founding LoveBug my background was art and writing. Creating a company is such a creative enterprise. It’s the most creative thing I’ve ever done. From writing content for the website, to creating information and messaging, it’s taking all these things I’ve learned and manifesting something physical out of it.”
“It’s tough traveling for work because I miss my family and my son so much! But I have an incredible support team in my Husband Ben and our extended family. Everybody helps out. I wish I could say I have boundaries – and that after 7 o’clock I turn off my phone. But in a startup it’s 24-7. You give it everything. The hours are tough, but none of it feels like ‘work.’ It’s incredible to see how we’re helping people improve their health and the health of their families.”