Pregnancy, as joyful as it is, can certainly take its toll on a woman’s body. From dealing with erratic hormones, indigestion, and sleep disorders to other pregnancy-related aches and pains, mothers-to-be face many new ailments. Interestingly, pregnancy often correlates with the onset of a Candida albicans overgrowth. Candida albicans is a yeast, and normal inhabitant of the body, which lives in harmony with many good bacteria to keep the body in good health. However, Candida can sometimes win the battle and take over due to antibiotic usage that kills off good bacteria, disturbs the delicate balance in the body and allows Candida to dominate the body’s flora. Hormonal imbalances like those caused during pregnancy are a major contributing factor. Candida can also be caused by a suppressed immune system, a diet high in sugars and yeast products, as well as the stresses of pregnancy.
Symptoms of Post-Partum Depression
After the baby is born, fluctuating hormones adjusting to their pre-pregnancy state can often cause a mother to experience post-partum mood swings (also referred to as “the baby blues”), anxiety, and depression. Typical symptoms of post-partum depression include exhaustion, irritability, decreased concentration, trouble sleeping or lack of energy. Many women feel like withdrawing from family and friends. Dietary changes from post-partum depression may appear as loss of appetite or just the opposite: compulsive overeating.
A Candida overgrowth can also contribute to depression, even during the post-partum period, and the symptoms can range from not feeling well, being overly fatigued, and feeling foggy to having headaches, gastrointestinal symptoms or yeast infections). It’s important to explore and determine whether a new mom may be suffering from Candida, to address – and treat -- the underlying cause of depression.
How Post-Partum Depression Affects Women
Post-partum depression is a frequent occurrence in many women. Lack of sleep from adjusting to a newborn baby’s sleep patterns with frequent nighttime wakeups can wreak havoc with a woman’s emotions and coping mechanisms. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can rev up hunger so new moms will overeat, usually the wrong foods, to recharge the batteries. Food cravings may set in and it may be hard to keep eating nutritiously. This poor diet can actually cause the Candida to grow, and Candida can then, in turn, cause even more cravings, setting up a vicious cycle. Eating poorly and not getting enough sleep can be tough on maintaining a healthy immune system, coping with post-partum depression, and fighting off Candida.
How to Boost the Immune System to Combat Candida
By boosting the immune system with a diet of whole, natural foods while limiting the intake of sugars and yeast products, a woman can better recover from the after effects of pregnancy. Eating a well-balanced diet with sugar limitations can also help to clear out yeast, which is part of the therapy for eradicating Candida. Introducing probiotic supplementation into the diet and ingesting yogurt with live acidophilus, can also help to re-colonize the body with good bacteria to try to reduce the population of Candida. With drastic modifications to a woman’s diet, she will feel better and the post-partum depression may lighten a bit.
Diet and Nutrition Affect Post-Partum depression
A good diet, with a focus on optimal nutrition, is crucial to combating post-partum depression: good for mother and for baby -- whether or not mother breastfeeds. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals with a reduction of sugar, one of the catalysts for Candida, improves a mother’s physical – and mental – health.
Exercise and Sleep
Exercise has a positive effect on a mother’s mood, and the endorphins released from exercise can be relaxing and improve one’s outlook. A regular exercise program can go a long way to reduce weight, stabilize blood sugars, and contribute to a healthier body - one that can fight off Candida better. Lack of sleep from taking care of the baby is also detrimental to a mother’s well-being, and getting better sleep from sneaking in a few naps during the day – or asking for occasional help through the nights - can help overall mood. Getting more sleep can also help the immune system to counteract the Candida overgrowth in the body.
Post-partum depression and Candida have many common characteristics and symptoms, and many of their ailments go hand-in-hand as a result of poor diet, lack of adequate sleep and diminished immune response. Modifying the diet to eliminate Candida also helps to improve overall physical health, and mental states benefit as well. Coping with the hormonal changes of post-partum depression is difficult but with proper adjustments, a new mother can better deal with the post-pregnancy stresses. A woman should consult with her physician if symptoms don’t improve after a short time or to address the underlying Candida infection, which may need to be treated more aggressively with stricter dietary restrictions or prescription medication.