I have been wanting to write a blog post for some time to explain how I came to discover Candida overgrowth and also share some of my personal experiences about how much it affected my life at the time. I want to share this part of my story because I hope it helps other women in the same situation I was in. There is also research and information that I learned and I must share it because it isn’t easily accessible.
Everything changed in my health when I became pregnant. I fell pregnant with my first child when my hubby Simon and I left Australia. Up until that point I
had been living in Australia for nearly four years and believed it was my new home but circumstances in our lives at the time meant that we needed to come back to the UK. I’ll be honest, it was a stressful time in our lives. We came back to the UK with very little; a few things and a bit of money to get us by. I was already pregnant with Jack and we were lucky that Simon found a job pretty much straight away. At the time, we decided that I wouldn’t work but stay at home growing our baby and getting ready for the birth. But this was a massive shock to me. I had spent most of my adult life working and then all of a sudden be out of work and pregnant, emotionally I struggled with the loss of identity so I did what I had always done in the past, I turned to food for my comfort. The long days at home trying to amuse myself led me to eat. I chose sugary treats and foods loaded with carbs but being pregnant wasn’t as fun as I hoped. My pregnancy symptoms were elevated and I was extremely unmotivated. I had all good intentions of walking, jogging whatever I could to get going but most of the time I couldn’t be bothered or I didn’t feel like it. With my lack of mobility and my choice of a high-sugar diet, I noticed that I was gaining pounds. By month 8 of my pregnancy, I was weighing in at nearly 100kgs (although some was
baby weight). I was pretty miserable with my weight gain but tried to keep focused and happy about the birth of our imminent baby, believing that I would shed the pounds once my baby was born. It was about month five of my pregnancy that I got my first UTI. I used to be prone to them when I was younger but my midwife said it was common to get UTIs during pregnancy because of the way the baby lies in your womb so I took my antibiotics and found instant relief, but only a few days later to be struck down with vaginal thrush. I was treated for thrush and everything cleared up until the next UTI came. My doctors and midwives confirmed that it was very common for these types of infections, so I took my antibiotics and then had to be treated again for thrush. This went on throughout the rest of my pregnancy. I didn’t feel right in myself either. My digestive system was all over the place, I was often constipated and battling with haemorrhoids, I was also experiencing excessive oedema; my feet were swollen, and my legs, my hands and fingers, it got to the point when I had to remove my rings because I was afraid they’d become stuck. None of this was normal for me but I blamed everything on being pregnant.
At week 38, I was struck down with yet another UTI. This one was painful and I remember crying at my husband. I couldn’t believe I had another UTI. I didn’t
want to take any more antibiotics so I went to the shop for cystitis treatment. I prayed it would work but still, the pain continued. A couple of hours later I was uncomfortable. My entire body was swollen and I couldn’t leave the toilet because I knew I’d be back in a few minutes later. I eventually called my midwife and she said it sounded like I could have gone into labour and that a UTI close to the due date could do that.
She came out and examined me explaining she thought I was in the early stages of labour. At that time she booked me to be induced two days later. Now, from someone who tries to live her life as natural as possible, this was awful for me. I wanted my baby born naturally, and had until that point, planned a home birth. I agreed that I would be induced if my baby didn’t come naturally, so spent the next 48 hours walking, eating curries and anything else I could do to bring my baby into the world but nothing worked, and it’s only now that I realise that my little boy wasn’t ready to be born.
Two days later I went to the hospital to be induced and then left to go home to have my baby at home as I planned. But the labour was intense and my body was struggling to cope. My legs and feet swelled to double the size and I wasn’t coping.
I don’t usually carry blame for anything and tend to see things as experiences. I don’t blame Candida for what happened but I do believe that Candida played a massive part in how the events evolved.
When I studied Candida, I discovered that being pregnant alters the microbiome of the gut. This information was released by Ruth Ley at Cornell University .
Knowing this information now, makes me understand more about the importance of gut health and how if I had taken better care of my gut health during pregnancy, then I would have been less likely to experience UTIs and therefore I would have no need for antibiotics because we also understand that antibiotics kill off all bacteria’s harmful and beneficial, so these events combined meant that I was a perfect candidate for Candida to grow, especially as I kept feeding it with my sugar addiction.
Here are some of my tips to help you look after your gut health when you are pregnant.
Eat a diet rich in whole foods such as grains, leafy green vegetables, and root vegetables.
Eat lots of leafy green vegetables such as spinach because it’s high in folic acid.
Eat prebiotic foods such as asparagus, dandelion greens, garlic, kale, leek, onions, seaweed, inulin (chicory root powder), and flaxseeds. All these foods are powerful prebiotics which means consuming them helps to encourage beneficial bacteria to colonise and grow .
Eat a higher protein diet and include more white meat and fish over red meat.
Limit sugary treats and stay away from refined foods such as white bread, cakes, crisps and more.
Be sure to take a high-strength probiotic. Choose a probiotic that has a high CFU count 30-50 billion CFU is good.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, a brisk walk is good or join a pregnancy yoga class.
Eat fermented foods to help colonise new strains of beneficial bacteria. If you are new to fermented foods eat them in small amounts first.
Drink or eat bone broth daily.