Yeast Infections During Pregnancy

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By Heather Lopez

According to the American Pregnancy Association, yeast infections are more common during pregnancy than any other time in a woman’s life, especially during the second trimester. (1) I experienced multiple yeast infections during my first pregnancy and my doctor told me that once you get one, it makes it easier to continue to get them. There is nothing shameful about getting them, as some aspects are completely beyond your control. Your hormones are shifting and causing changes that can lead to a yeast infection.

What is a Yeast Infection?

According to Kid’s Health.Org “A yeast infection, also known as candidiasis (pronounced: can-dih-die-uh-sis), is the name for a common infection caused by a yeast called candida albicans (a type of fungus).

Yeast infections usually occur in warm, moist parts of the body, such as the mouth and moist areas of skin. When they cause an infection in the vagina, it is known as vulvovaginal candidiasis.

Candida can overgrow for many reasons. Stress, pregnancy, and illnesses that affect the immune system may allow yeast to multiply, as can certain medicines. These include some birth control pills and steroids. Or if you’re taking antibiotics, such as for strep throat, the antibiotics can kill “good” bacteria that also live in the body and normally keep the growth of candida in the vagina in check.” (2)

Symptoms of a Yeast Infection:

  • Discharge that is usually white, similar to cottage cheese and may smell like yeast/bread
  • Other discharge may be greenish or yellowish, also similar to cottage cheese and may smell like yeast/bread
  • Copious amounts of discharge
  • Redness, itching, or irritation of the lips of the vagina
  • Burning during urination or intercourse (3)

Treatment of a Yeast Infection:

According to Women’s Healthcare Topics, “It is important your yeast infection is diagnosed correctly before you treat it during pregnancy. Some yeast infections resemble other common infections during pregnancy. A bacterial infection for example can produce abundant discharge much like a yeast infection, but the cure for the two are not the same.

If you do have a yeast infection your health care provider will likely recommend an over the counter anti-fungal cream. Typically these are beneficial for alleviating all but the worst vaginal yeast infections and work in as little as a few days to a week. You may find you need a longer course regimen than what you are used to while pregnant.

If your yeast infection is particularly insidious your doctor may prescribe a prescription strength product to help knock out the infection more effectively. In most cases yeast infections are relatively harmless and will not impact your developing baby. There is however a small possibility that you could pass a yeast infection onto your baby during delivery if you have an infection during labor.” (4) 

My doctor prescribed the the generic version of Monistat. It was like a cream or ointment that you had to suck up into a tube, insert it into the vagina sort of like a tampon, and squeeze the product out. It was really painless and the infection would disappear in less than a week.

Prevention of a Yeast Infection

According to Baby Center.Com, you should:

• Wear breathable cotton underwear and avoid pantyhose and tight pants, particularly synthetic ones.

•  Get out of your wet bathing suit promptly after swimming, and change your underwear after exercising if you break a sweat.

•  Try sleeping without underwear at night to allow air to get to your genital area. If you prefer to wear something to bed, a nightgown without underwear allows more air circulation than pajama bottoms.

•  Avoid bubble baths, perfumed soaps, scented laundry detergent, and feminine hygiene sprays. While it’s not clear whether these items contribute to yeast infections, they can cause bothersome genital irritation so are best avoided.

•  Clean your genital area gently with warm water. (Never douche during pregnancy.)

•  Always wipe from front to back.

•  Eat yogurt that contains a live culture of Lactobacillus acidophilus, which can theoretically help maintain the proper bacterial balance in your gut and vagina. There’s conflicting evidence as to whether yogurt helps prevent yeast infections, but many women swear by it. And in any case, it’s a good source of protein and calcium! (5)

Additionally, according to the APA, you should:

  • Limit sugar intake, as sugar promotes the growth of yeast
  • After regular, thorough washing, use your blow dryer on a low, cool setting to help dry your genital area.
  • Get plenty of rest to make it easier for your body to fight infections (6)

Conclusion

It is important to treat these type of infections if you suspect you have one because if you don’t, it could lead to being susceptible to other infections and your baby could contract thrush. While thrush can be quite common in newborns, it is best to try to avoid it as the infection travel to your nipples if you are breastfeeding. (7) 

During my second pregnancy, I did not get a yeast infection as I tried to adhere to the prevention guidelines I mentioned above. I definitely ate a lot of yogurt, made sure I wiped front to back, changed my underwear frequently, and I cleaned myself thoroughly. It was so much easier to take the preventitive steps than it was to continually go through the symptoms and treatment of the infection. Prevention and/or treatment are important to maintain a happy and healthy pregnancy.

Posted by hahmom   @   1 May 2010 0 comments
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