Can thrush harm my baby during pregnancy?

Thrush, also known as candida, candidosis or candidiasis, is a yeast infection caused by the Candida species of fungus, usually Candida albicans. It is frequently present in the vagina, but does not usually cause any symptoms because its growth is kept under control by normal bacteria.

If the immune system is affected in any way – for example, you are on antibiotics or under a lot of stress – the fungus can grow and cause:

  • itching
  • irritation
  • redness
  • soreness and swelling of the vagina and vulva (the outside part of the female genitals)

There may also be a thick, creamy discharge, but it won't smell unpleasant.

Because of the changes going on in the body, pregnant women often get thrush, especially during the third trimester of pregnancy, but there is no evidence that thrush can harm an unborn baby.

Treating thrush during pregnancy

If you are pregnant, you should speak to your GP or pharmacist before using treatments for thrush.

Thrush during pregnancy can be treated with cream or a pessary (a tablet inserted in the vagina) that contains clotrimazole or a similar antifungal drug.

Normally, thrush can also be treated with antifungal tablets called fluconazole. However, if you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not take anti-thrush tablets.

Read more information about how thrush is treated.

If you have thrush when your baby is born, the baby may catch it during the delivery. This is nothing to worry about and can easily be treated.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 28/02/2013

Next review due: 27/02/2015