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Yeast Infections and Pregnancy

Even if you haven't had a yeast infection yet, experts say there's a good chance you'll experience one during pregnancy. While you always have some yeast in your body, "Pregnancy lends it the opportunity to grow beyond what it's supposed to," says Susan Wysocki, president and CEO of the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health. Here's why: Increased progesterone levels, changes in the vaginal pH, and higher sugar levels in the vagina during pregnancy help yeast overgrow and cause irritation. Pregnant women also experience more clear discharge, creating the moist environment yeast like. In addition, expectant moms are slightly immune-compromised, which allows their body to tolerate the presence of the fetus but may also make it more vulnerable to infection, says Robert Blatman, M.D., a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.  

   Symptoms of yeast infection include vaginal itching and burning, redness, and an odorless, thick, white, cottage-cheese-like discharge. While some antifungal medications are sold over-the-counter, consult your doctor if you suspect you’ve got a yeast infection. He can recommend a safe treatment, and rule out other infections, such as bacterial vaginosis, that can cause an increased risk of premature labor if left untreated.

   Because yeast infections thrive in moist environments, always dry off thoroughly after bathing, don't lounge in a wet bathing suit, and wear cotton underwear so your skin can breathe. Some women eat plain, unsweetened yogurt to prevent yeast infections because its live cultures may help balance the vagina's pH level. (Flavored or sweetened yogurt may add extra sugar to your body, a favorite fuel for yeast.) If nothing else, yogurt offers a calcium boost for you and your baby.