Find out why you're more likely to get thrush in pregnancy and how you can treat it safely.
What causes thrush in pregnancy?
Thrush is a yeast infection that occurs when the balance of bacteria in your body gets out of synch. This is more likely to occur during pregnancy than at any other time because the hormonal changes you go through make it more likely that your bacteria levels will become imbalanced. You're also more likely to develop thrush when your body isn't at its best, for example if you haven't been eating well, if you've been taking anti-biotics, if you've been feeling particularly stressed or simply if you are a little run down.
Increased levels of the microorganism candida albicans in particular are responsible for the uncomfortable symptoms associated with thrush. These occur naturally within the body, however levels tend to increase during pregnancy as the presence of the 'sugar' glycogen in the vagina encourages its growth. When levels of candida albicans increase above a certain level the characteristic symptoms of thrush start to appear.
What are the symptoms?
Typically the symptoms of thrush include itching, swelling, irritation, redness and soreness around the vaginal area. Some women also experience a burning sensation 'down below' and notice that their vaginal discharge becomes thick, white and creamy .
Should I see a doctor?
If you're experiencing any of the symptoms listed above and think you may be suffering with thrush it is a good idea to visit your doctor or midwife. After considering your symptoms, overall health and your baby's stage of development they will be able to prescribe you with suitable treatment.
How can I treat thrush in pregnancy?
Taking over-the-counter remedies for thrush isn't recommended during pregnancy. Oral treatments in particular should be avoided as they may contain ingredients that have not been approved as safe for use at this sensitive time. Some creams and pessary treatments will be suitable, but it is always better to consult your doctor before self-medicating, even if you have treated thrush successfully with a particular over-the-counter treatment before.
How can I prevent it?
While there is no way to prevent thrush completely, there are a number of things you can try to boost the levels of 'friendly' bacteria in your body and to help keep things in balance. These include:
Will it harm my baby?
- Wearing cotton underwear and avoiding wearing synthetic tights or tight fitting jeans
- Replacing perfumed bubble bath and shower gels with more natural products
- Switching to non-bio washing powder
- Reducing the amount of sugary food you eat
- Avoiding taking long, hot baths
- Including natural, probiotic yogurt into your diet to help re-balance the 'good' and 'bad' bacteria in your body. This can also be applied as topical relief to the inflamed area
- Applying a cold compress or a cloth soaked in witch-hazel to the area
If you suffer with thrush in pregnancy you can rest assured that it won't harm your baby in any way. However, there is a very small chance that you could pass thrush on to your baby during the birth if you're suffering at that time. Even then it's not harmful and will instead usually manifest itself as milky-white spots in your baby's mouth that will clear up over time.
Whether you have a question about a 'pregnancy problem' or just fancy a chat, why not visit the AskBaby forums.