What it's Really Like...for a mother and baby with a Candida Infection.
We've written before and talked a lot on social media about why our Feeding Cookies don't contain Brewer's Yeast. It's a well known fact that brewer's yeast can cause a yeast overgrowth (or Candida) for both mothers and breastfed babies, so we feel very strongly that at this delicate time of life, it's important to not add to the 'yeasty problems' that can be so real and prolific during this time.
Unless you've had a baby with a candida infection though, it can be really difficult to know what to look out for or really understand what an impact this can have on both of your lives!
What is a Candida Infection?
Candida albicans is a species of yeast that is a normal part of the digestive flora, however under certain conditions it can grow and proliferate causing an imbalance in this normal digestive flora.
Some of the common symptoms of this type of inbalance can include digestive complaints, fatigue, thrush, skin complaints and much more as one of our mums Sharon has shared with us in her story of this distressing time in her baby's early life and that of her own as a new mother.
"Grace was diagnosed with Candida in her mouth when she was a baby, and I got really bad Candida as a result of taking about 3 to 4 courses of antibiotics on account of blocked ducts and mastitis."
What Causes a Candida Overgrowth?
Like Sharon found, antibiotics are a common cause of Candida. However, causes can vary and might also include excess alcohol, oral contraceptives, stress and in particular Candida thrives on certain foods like those that are sugar-rich. Eliminating these from the diet will help to reduce the presence of candida and can help bring the digestive flora back into balance. However, like our mum Sharon found, foods that are sugar-rich abound in the foods we eat and have easily available these days and it's particularly important to seek help of a health professional for advice for your individual situation.
"I didn't know that you had to replenish your gut with probiotics. It got so bad that I had to go on a Candida Diet that lasted for about 6 months. The Candida Diet was yeast, gluten, wheat, dairy & fructose free. I had to cut out all fruit, processed food and sauces as they all contained some form of sugars, either fructose, lactose, or sucrose etc. The elimination of fruit was the hardest part of the Candida diet. It lasted for 3 months and then after that I slowly introduced fruits with very Low GI and had the least amount of fructose.
I lost a lot of weight and I was still breastfeeding. During this time, I was always hungry. I ate so many avocados because it was one of the fruit vegetables that I was able to consume.
I was on a highly restricted diet and I wouldn't wish that upon anyone especially if you are breastfeeding."
How to Overcome a Candida Infection
Firstly, it's important to seek advice from a health professional to determine that you are infact dealing with Candida.
Both conventional and natural health practitioners should be able to test for candida infections either through blood tests or other tests available to them and there's even services like Allergenics Health Assessment Services who can test for Candida Albicans in their Food Intolerance and Environment Test, which is hair analysis test.
Then, to successfully treat it, you need to to:
- stop the yeast overgrowth
- build up the friendly bacteria
- heal your gut so that candida can no longer enter your bloodstream.
Doing all three can be a process over time of eliminating sugar-rich and high carbohydrate foods, while also increasing gut-healing foods and the right functional medicine doctor or natural health professional can definitely help assist this process.
In the case of our mum Sharon, it was also a matter of working on the ongoing issues with blocked milk ducts alongside changes to diet and she ended up seeking help from both Naturopaths and an Integrative Medicine General Practitioner.
"During this time, I was also seeing a Nautropath to help fortify my gut and drink this horrible herbal medicine to help with the weekly blocked ducts that I was getting. It would be unblocked by the end of the week and then start to get block up on Monday, and the whole process starts all over again. Stress played a part in this constant blockage. I really did not know what I was doing. I would be crying every time I fed Grace because of the pain of the blocked ducts in both breasts, and because I was fearful all the time during this time with such a delicate newborn baby."
Sharon has kindly shared her story with us, because she feels stress of new motherhood played a huge role in the development of a lot of the issues she suffered during this time and wanted to others to know the importance of seeking professional help ASAP if they suspect themselves and their baby are suffering similarly.