Thanks to the many hormonal changes your body is going through, you may have yeast infections more often during pregnancy. Yeast infections are caused by fungus that's normally found in the mucous membranes of your body, and they are not harmful to your unborn baby. At worst, if you have a yeast infection during childbirth, your baby may get a mild mouth infection called thrush about a week after birth, and that can be treated easily.
Meanwhile, a yeast infection can make you awfully uncomfortable. You'll usually notice a change in vaginal discharge; it will look like dry cottage cheese. You'll also feel an itchy or burning sensation in your vagina, especially while having intercourse or at night. You might also have some redness near the opening of the vagina.
To help ward off yeast infections, cut back on refined sugar, wear loose clothing and cotton underpants instead of tight clothing and pantyhose, and keep your genitals dry. (That means peeling off your wet bathing suit right after swimming.) Wear nightgowns to bed without underwear and avoid wearing pantyliners.
If you get a yeast infection during your 1st trimester, your provider will probably be able to diagnose it by examining the vaginal discharge; she may also take a sample to rule out other possible infections. She'll probably advise you to use an over-the-counter medication such as Monistat. Home remedies may also help make you more comfortable. These include adding 1 cup of cornstarch plus 1/2 cup of baking soda to warm baths, using cold compresses to reduce itching, and eating yogurt with live active cultures.
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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