What is it?
Thrush is one of those “taboo“ subjects that is whispered about in corners and private Facebook groups filled with mothers/mothers-to-be, pregnancy workers and/or birth workers. A short post in a Facebook parenting group with a “*TMI*” up at the top followed by a quickly written: “gimme your super-fast-working-remedies for thrush please?!?!?!”
No one likes to admit that they’ve got a yeast infection, let alone one in their vagina or their nipples or even their mouth. No one likes to admit that they’ve got it in a skin fold either!
Thrush, or Candida, is a very common part of the normal skin flora and usually doesn’t cause any problems, however if something upsets the delicate balance of your body’s flora and the Candida yeast is allowed to grow unchecked it can cause problems.
During pregnancy you are at a higher risk of this occurring because of the changes in your hormone levels (1) which can affect your immune system (in order to protect your baby), the bacteria and other flora that live on your skin, your bowel flora and pretty much every other part of your body. Likewise antibiotics can also contribute to a yeast overgrowth because they do not differentiate between good and bad bacteria and just kill off bacteria indiscriminately (2).
The main symptoms of thrush are itching, pain, and thick white discharge – similar in look and consistency to cottage cheese.
In the breasts it presents as itching and pain – stabbing, burning, throbbing, shooting pains, deep and/or shallow pains, and potentially even pins & needles. There may also be swelling (3).
Oral thrush often first present with redness and pain – usually a burning or stinging sensation. As the thrush progresses white spots and growths can appear. In babies an oral thrush infection can cause fussiness and pain.
Thrush is very easy to treat with either oral liquid treatments or tablet treatments, as well as creams and pessaries that can be inserted or placed over the affected area/s.
Some thrush treatments are safe to have during pregnancy while others aren’t, so it is imperative that you see your care provider/doctor first before starting any treatment, and to make sure that you actually have thrush first.
Stick with the treatment for the full length of time listed on the package/dosage label.
What Else Should I Know?
Candida Thrush is contagious and can be spread easily (5).
Ensure that you wash all clothing and bedding in an anti-fungal wash (for example, Canasten has a treated washing powder) and change it daily while undergoing treatment.
If you have vaginal thrush and have been having sexual intercourse with a partner make sure that your partner also treats themselves for thrush too as it can be transferred back and forth between partners resulting in a seemingly never-ending thrush infection.
If you are breastfeeding and your baby is diagnosed with oral thrush it is a good idea to treat yourself at the same time (4) as you will most likely have thrush too and you will be reinfecting each other at every feed – there is no reason to stop breastfeeding if you are sticking to the treatments.
Prevention can be useful – I won’t list all the different prevention techniques here as they can easily be found with a quick Google search, but if you are prone to repeated thrush infections then the prevention methods, if you don’t already know about them, will be your friend.
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