I have been dealing with candida overgrowth / yeast infection for almost two years before I got pregnant. It took me well over a year to get it under control and I had to make some drastic changes to my diet and lifestyle to heal. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t impossible either.
Thanks to these changes, I was at my healthiest best when I got pregnant. I am very sure, though I cannot prove it, that because I was maintaining such a healthy lifestyle before I got pregnant, I had an extremely easy and comfortable pregnancy.
During the course of my pregnancy, I did not suffer from yeast infection at all. I had completely given up on my diet and indulged in everything that my heart desired. Initially I was a bit worried about getting an infection, but other than a mild UTI during the initial days of my pregnancy, I did not suffer from anything else.
Post my delivery, I was trying to recover from my surgery, while keeping my head above water as a new mom and I did not give any thought to my diet or to yeast infections. Not for long though! Because when you are discharged from the hospital, you are informed about the potential UTI’s you could suffer from during the recovery phase. But, no one tells you anything about the crazy, mind-numbing yeast infections you need to watch out for during a caesarean recovery. And, it’s very easy to confuse a yeast infection with a UTI, so that makes it worse.
SO, WHAT IS A YEAST INFECTION?
According to WebMD, our vagina contains a healthy balance of bacteria and yeast. These bacteria keeps the yeast in check and helps kill any harmful organisms in our vagina. However, if for any reason, these bacteria are killed off, then a fungus known as candida starts flourishing and multiplying, leading to mild or serious yeast infections. Yeast infections can also occur inside our mouth.
The common causes of yeast infection or candida overgrowth are:
- Excessive usage of antibiotics
- A weakened immune system
- Usage of douches or vaginal sprays
- Change in hormones especially for women who are breastfeeding, taking birth control with estrogen or using hormone replacement therapy
- Wearing tight or moist clothing for prolonged period of time
WHY DO WOMEN SUFFER FROM YEAST INFECTION AFTER A C-SECTION?
You might be thinking that someone delivering vaginally would be more susceptible to yeast infections, instead women delivering via C-section usually suffer from this beast of infections more often. This is because of the large doses of antibiotics women receive during and after a C-section, to keep away infections.
Antibiotics are one of the major causes of yeast infections. Continuous dosages of strong antibiotics not only help fight infection, they also kill off the healthy bacteria in our body, which keeps the yeast in check.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YEAST INFECTION AND UTI?
When you are discharged from the hospital, you will be told to lookout for development of Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) in the coming days. You will be advised to drink lots of water to ward it off and you will be told nothing about keeping an eye out for yeast infections. Thus, when most women develop a yeast infection, they figure they’ve got an UTI and take more antibiotics to treat it. You see where I am going with this? More antibiotics = More yeast infections.
So, it is very important for women to understand the difference between these two so that they can get treated accordingly.
- Yeast infection is caused due to the overgrowth of the fungus Candida in your body. Whereas, UTIs are caused due to bacteria entering your urinary system.
- Yeast infection causes symptoms such as pain in the vagina and/or abdomen, itching, and odourless discharge. UTIs cause urinary symptoms, such as frequent and painful urination, foul-smelling urine and occasionally, blood in the urine.
- UTI can be diagnosed through a urine test, whereas, a yeast infection requires physical examination of the infected area along with a culture test.
HOW TO TREAT YEAST INFECTIONS AFTER DELIVERY?
If you’ve noticed above in my article, I have continually mentioned a change in diet and lifestyle that is required to fight off any yeast infection. Mild yeast infections may take few days to weeks to heal, however, a severe yeast infection may take six months to a year to heal. Along with any medications that your doctor may prescribe, you will need to eliminate many food items from your food list as well, to treat the infection. This could be a challenge, since right after your delivery, you are expected to eat well and eat everything.
Antifungal medicines will be required to treat the infection, but always consult your gynecologist before taking any medications. Do not take over-the-counter medicines especially if you are breastfeeding or pregnant.
Here’s what you can do to treat your yeast infection:
Increase your intake of good bacteria. Since the antibiotics have killed most of the good bacteria in your body, you will need to replenish it and help it increase. This can be done by eating probiotic food that can introduce good bacteria in your body. Some of these are fermented food like kimchi or kambucha and yoghurt (especially greek yoghurt). Yoghurt that includes active cultures are especially good for fighting off a yeast infection.
Eat a lot of garlic. Garlic has strong antifungal properties and is overall extremely good for your health. Raw garlic is especially beneficial, but if you cannot eat raw garlic, then throw in a handful of peeled garlic in your food and that should help too.
A spoonful of coconut oil. This worked wonders for me. One of the main components of coconut oil is lauric acid, which can be very effective against candida yeasts. Take a spoonful of coconut oil first thing in the morning, or use it as a mouthwash to fight yeast infections occurring in the mouth. Adding coconut oil to your food will also be beneficial.
Switch to a low-sugar diet. Eliminating refined sugar from your diet will help in your fight against yeast infections. When I was dealing with my yeast infection, cutting down on all food that had sugar in it, helped me a lot. This means no cakes, chocolates, sweetmeats or anything with sugar in it.
Change your sanitary pad regularly. You do not want to provide the fungus candida with an ideal atmosphere to thrive in. So, make sure you change your sanitary/maxi pad regularly and keep the area clean and moist-free. Wear cotton underwear only and no tight clothing.
If you think you have a yeast infection, contact your doctor right away. Do not take any medications, oral or topical, without consulting your doctor. Right diet, and supplements such as probiotics can and will help you get rid of the infection quickly. And, remember, you are not alone mama!