As we gear up for the sweet slide into the 4th of July Weekend, I had the honor of spending some time with the glowing, goddess, soon to be new-mama Nikki Bostwick, Editor-in-Chief of The Fullest Magazine. I have known Nikki for the past 8 years, and am always struck by her aura of peace, and love. Girl knows how to light up a room.
We met up to talk about new-motherhood and the C. diff epidemic that is plaguing so many pregnant and postpartum mothers; as well as the deeply concerning rise of pediatric C. diff infections. California is experiencing alarming rates of C. diff infections in our hospitals, long-term care facilities and in the community. Many of our hospitals are among the worst in the country when it comes to C. diff infections.
A large percentage of the people who reach out to me are new moms battling postpartum C. diff infections. Nikki and I talked about her upcoming Group B Strep test, a test all new moms have 35-37 weeks into their pregnancy. As a probiotic-savvy informed boss-babe Nikki is seriously in-tune with caring for her microbiome and has been prepping with loads of high-quality probiotics.
Strep-B is a very common bacteria carried in the vagina and rectum of about 25% of healthy women. Even though the bacteria does not pose a risk to the mothers carrying this bacteria, it can cause serious harm and even death to a newborn. Women who carry this bacteria must receive IV antibiotics at least 4 hours before giving birth. Antibiotics are commonly used in new mothers, whether for Group B Strep, C-section or infections related to the birth of their baby.
The combination of an immune system compromised by pregnancy, antibiotics and a hospital stay sets many women up for experiencing a C. diff infection. A recent study published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology has shown that probiotics are effective in reducing C. diff infections in hospital patients receiving antibiotics. I, unfortunately, cannot say that I received probiotics during any of my hospital stays, including when I gave birth my 3rd child and was treated for Strep-B and had an emergency C. section.
I believe that new motherhood is the most sacred time in life. It is not a time that should be blighted by fighting an antibiotic-resistant superbug, which can take months, even years, to battle. Sometimes even resulting in deaths of new mothers or the loss of the colon. Certainly, not all cases of C. diff can be prevented in new moms, but we can at the very least give new mothers the knowledge of what they can do to protect themselves and their families.
When in the hospital make sure everyone who touches you washes their hands and wears gloves.
Remember that the hospital is not your home, it is a medical facility where some very sick people are treated. Have your partner or support person request hospital-grade germicidal wipes, which kill hardy C. diff spores that can live in the environment for up to 2 years. Use gloves to wipe down the bedrails, bedside table, sink knobs, toilet and high touch areas.
Wash your hands for at LEAST 30 seconds with soap and water, hand gel is not effective against C. diff spores.
Ask if your hospital carries a high-quality probiotic like Bio-K. Bio-K is used in Canadian hospitals to prevent C. diff infections and comes in a variety of flavors, including the new vegan coconut flavored Bio-K made from fermented pea and hemp. If your hospital doesn’t provide probiotics bring your own, Bio-K also comes in capsule form.
Bio-K was kind enough to gift me with a 12 pack of their new vegan coconut probiotic, Nikki is a longtime Bio-K fan and loved the new flavor!
Let’s give new moms the information and tools needed to prevent C. diff infections. The sleepless nights, and adjusting to life with a new baby is hard, let’s make information about C. diff and how to avoid a C. diff infection easy to find and follow.
Health-care providers: talk to your patients about C. diff; a 5-minute conversation about the microbiome, risks of antibiotics, and the benefit of a probiotic taken 3 hours from antibiotic dosage could save your patient’s life, and greatly influence the entire trajectory of their health for the rest of their life. As well as making an incredibly important contribution to the national (worldwide) conversation we need to be having about antibiotic stewardship. I know you are busy, crazy busy. But please, PLEASE have this conversation with your patients, it’s worth the time.