One of the not so pleasant, but often unavoidable realities of pregnancy is vaginal thrush. It’s the itch that never seems to be relieved and can be incredibly irritating.
The reason you’re at a higher risk of developing this common yeast infection is because of changes in the levels of female hormones during pregnancy. The good news is there’s no evidence that having thrush while pregnant will harm your unborn baby.
It might be harder to stop thrush from reoccurring but there’s plenty of things you can do to prevent and treat thrush during pregnancy.
What is thrush?
Thrush is a fairly harmless yeast infection that is usually caused by a yeast-like fungus called Candida albicans. Most of us have Candida in the vagina without it causing any symptoms and our good bacteria keep it in check.
However, problems arise when the natural PH balance in the vagina is upset and Candida multiplies. This is quite common in pregnancy when our hormones take on a mind of their own.
Do all pregnant women get thrush?
Trust us; you’ll know if you’ve got thrush. It causes itching, irritation and swelling of the vagina and surrounding area, sometimes with a creamy white cottage cheese-like discharge.
However, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding and you have thrush the first person to visit is your doctor. It’s likely they tell you to avoid taking oral anti-thrush treatments. Instead, use vaginal pessaries, plus an anti-thrush cream if necessary.
We asked our Mum’s Grapevine community to tell us how they’ve treated thrush during pregnancy and this is what they had to say …
“Stay away from yeast-based foods like bread take probiotics and eat natural yogurt and try keep it as dry as possible as hard as that is.” – Shez
“Inner health plus is the best,” – Tanya
“I also had thrush it was awful. The chemist gave me suppository like capsules that had to be inserted half way. It was uncomfortable but it fixed it with both pregnancies,” – Fiona
“Warm bath with a cup of apple cider vinegar in it,” – Jem
“Went back to my OB after Canesten wasn’t working and she told me to get Aci-Jel (over the counter). You have to wear a pad while using it; I did it for five days then didn’t need it anymore. Best to use over night but it worked great,” – Natalie
“Probiotics, such as inner health plus, inserted instead of the thrush cream. This is what my pharmacist recommended and worked a treat,” – Amanda
“Dilute some bicarb soda with water and use a wet flannel to pat yourself with the mixture. It provides some relief” – Enza
“Insert a clove of garlic and sit on an ice pack, to take away the burning and itching feeling,” – Breanna
“Have a warm bath and put apple cider vinegar in the bath it works a treat” – Kathie
Preventing vaginal thrush during pregnancy
According to the government-funded health website Pregnancy, Birth and Baby, there are a number of simple ways you can to prevent vaginal thrush. Just keep in mind that because your hormones are changing so rapidly, there’s a chance you might still develop thrush.
9 ways to reduce risk of getting vaginal thrush
1. Try wearing cotton or silk underwear rather than synthetics and change them daily. If you’re wearing tights or stockings, do so for as short a time as possible.
2. Wash underwear in hot water and pure soap and double rinse to make sure any irritants are removed before you wear them.
3. Change out of damp swimming costumes or sports clothes as soon as possible.
4. If using pads, change them regularly and avoid perfumed or deodorised pads.
5. Avoid tight fitting clothes such as jeans as this creates a moist, warm environment that encourages the overgrowth of bacteria and yeasts.
6. Never douche, except if it is specifically prescribed by a doctor to treat an infection. This increases your risk of vaginal irritation and is not recommended during pregnancy.
7. Avoid using soaps, bubble baths, bath salts, perfumes, diluted disinfectants and perfumed talcs around the vaginal area.
8. Always wipe from the front to the back after going to the toilet since this stops bowel organisms being swept into the vagina.
9. Perfumed toilet paper can cause irritation so it’s best avoided.
When to visit your doctor
If you have thrush and you’re pregnant or breastfeeding it’s recommended you visit your doctor rather than buying anti-thrush medication over the counter. Not treatments are safe to use during pregnancy, so it’s important to talk to your doctor and pharmacist before using any products.
The body can do some pretty crazy and amazing things during pregnancy. Why not take a look through our full guide to pregnancy symptoms.