Because of the increased levels of Estrogen and Progesterone during pregnancy, yeast infections are a common occurrence at this time. While uncomfortable and bothersome, on the bright side, there is no threat posed to the unborn baby and there are methods of treatment which have been used successfully for decades.
What Causes Yeast Infections?
Yeast or Candida albicans is naturally found in the vagina. A delicate balance exists between them and the natural bacterial flora also present there. When there is excessive multiplication of these yeast cells, the balance becomes upset and a yeast infection results. The infection originates because of the hormonal changes which come about during pregnancy. As a result, the possibility exists for several bouts of infection over the course of pregnancy. Yeast thrives in a high sugar environment. If a pregnant patient has developed gestational diabetes, it is also likely that she may experience yeast infections also. If you happen to be taking antibiotics, the possibility of a yeast infection also increases as the bacteria are killed, resulting in an overgrowth of the existing yeast cells.
What Are the Symptoms of a Yeast Infection?
A yeast infection is characterized by itching, burning, swelling, redness and a general irritation of the inner and outer vaginal area. The vagina may even feel sore and the burning is especially profound upon urination. These symptoms result in pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse. The accompanying discharge which may either be white, cottage cheese-like or creamy in appearance is a tell tale sign that a yeast infection has developed. This discharge may be odourless or smell yeasty. If you are unsure that you have a yeast infection, consult your doctor to have it confirmed so that treatment may begin.
How Can It Safely Be Treated During Pregnancy?
The common method of treating yeast infections while pregnant is through the use of medicated antifungal creams or vaginal suppositories. One might worry if the treatments will affect the pregnancy, however studies and practice have thus far not revealed any adverse effects of the treatment on the unborn baby. It is actually more harmful to the baby if not resolved as they can contract it while passing through the birth canal and develop thrush in the mouth. The medications contain the antifungal Imidazole, in the form of Miconazole or Clotrimazole, and the course of treatment lasts from 1 to 2 weeks, since yeast infections are a persistent problem during pregnancy.
Are There Home Remedies Which Can Be Safely Used?
Some practical steps to take to minimize or discourage the occurrence of yeast infections during pregnancy include keeping the vagina clean and dry. This may prove problematic especially in the later stages of pregnancy when frequent urination becomes a constant feature. Wiping and drying thoroughly afterward, from front to back, is especially important. This can be supported by wearing breathable full coverage cotton underwear to discourage sweating. Sleeping without pyjama bottoms is also encouraged to keep the area cool.
Dry the vagina and surrounding areas thoroughly after showering and do not keep on a wet bathing suit for extended periods of time after swimming. Yeast thrives in moisture.
Be careful to avoid scented soaps for baths while pregnant, and showers rather than bubble baths are recommended to reduce the likelihood of a yeast infection.
Some women have found that taking probiotics which contain live bacterial cultures, like Lactobacillus acidophilus have been effective in alleviating the symptoms. The added benefit is that you will be adding a supply of calcium and protein to your diet which is healthy for pregnancy. You may not want to experiment too much with home remedies outside of yoghurt since there are many precautions a pregnant woman must take to ensure a safe pregnancy.