June 21, 2013

The increase of Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections in otherwise healthy pregnant and postpartum women is a growing concern. First noted in 2006, the spread of C. diff from being solely a hospital-acquired infection to an increasingly community-acquired infection, has led physicians and scientists to begin studying the incidence of the disease in peripartum  women.

While the percentage of pregnant women impacted is relatively small, the fact that C. diff is not a reportable disease according to the federal government, means that the actual incidence is unknown. Further complicating the disease in pregnant women is the concern that available treatments like Flagyl and Vancomycin may pose a risk to the fetus.

A possible driver of the increase of C. diff infections in postpartum women is the explosion of cesarean sections over natural childbirth. In some regions, as many as 50% of all births are done by cesarean. In general, c-sections require longer hospital stays and prophylactic antibiotics, both key risk factors for C. diff infections.

In the three years since starting the Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation, we’ve heard from several women who were afflicted with C. diff after giving birth, including Amy Burke. But Megan is the first woman to share her story with us that actually had C. diff while she was pregnant. We’re happy to report that both Megan and her child came through the pregnancy healthy, despite the harrowing situation her family found themselves in.

Megan, a 29-year-old mother of three in Pennsylvania, tells us how she went from healthy to sick, angry, frustrated and depressed, as she navigated her pregnancy and a potentially life-threatening infection. She also shares how she fought her way back to wellness.

Please read Megan’s story, share it on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, using the buttons below, and please make a donation to PLF to help us continue to raise awareness of C. diff and, ultimately, prevent other women from sharing Megan’s painful experience.

Megan F’s C. diff Story

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  1. Joyce Lovse says:

    My daughter died of a facility acquired MDR pseudomonas, another superbug. I have gone to Washington to get the CDC to require the reporting of all facility acquired infections MRSA/C-Diff/Pseudomonas. SLOW process. . .

    Didyou see the article in the USA Today a few months back 30,000 deaths due to C-Diff? I presented this to my MI reps in DC.

    How can we work together with other groups/foundations to ensure federal and state mandatory reporting of C-Diff/MRSA and superbugs that resulet in death, like my daughter’s case.

    Joyce Lovse

    1. Hi Joyce –

      Thanks for your comment. We were actually featured in the USA Today article that you referred to. I agree with you completely about the need for strong mandatory reporting of C. diff and other HAIs. We are currently developing a long-range plan that will include tackling this very issue. I’d love to discuss this with you further. Please feel free to email me at cjlillis@peggyfoundation.org so we can find a time to talk.


  2. Jennifer D. says:

    I am currently 21 weeks pregnant and am now taking Flagyl to treat the C. Diff. I was finally diagnosed with C. Diff after two weeks of severe diarrhea and bloody stools. They contribute it to a staph infection that I had in Dec. ’15 and they prescribed an antibiotic for it. I am still concerned with the effects that all of this has played on my unborn child and myself. I am, however, very thankful that they finally figured out what was wrong with me.
    Jennifer D.

    1. Cassandra Porter says:

      Hi there I’m 32 weeks pregnant and was diagnosed with c diff. Just started the antibiotic 3 days ago. I still feel awful and have seen some small improvement. I’m so concerned about my baby. Did the antibiotic clear it up as it should after 2 weeks? Did you deliver a healthy baby? The anxiety of this is making me crazy.

  3. Megan C says:

    It won’t let me read the story… But I’ve been dealing with Cdiff since just before Christmas 2015… I’ve gone through 2 14 day courses of Flagyl at home. I was then hospitalized for almost a week and now home taking Vanco and Flagyl. I am currently still dealing with this. I am 22 weeks pregnant now. The next step is to double the doses. If that does not work I’ll stay on medication until delivery then look into fecal transplant, which cannot be done while pregnant… It’s hard to gain or even maintain weight. Flagyl makes you nauseas on top of already feeling awful!! We have plans set in place for keeping my weight up if it gets to that point! Weekly-biweekly Dr. Appointments. I also am taking Potassium supplements because I can not keep my Potassium stable. I’ve been out of work since Christmas! We are lucky my husband is working! But it doesn’t mean the bills aren’t piling up!! Not to mention finding out your second child is a boy and everything you own is for a girl! It’s very frustrating! One minute your crying the next you just want a punching bag! It’s hard, but you have to remember to take it one day at a time! We are lucky we have the support we have, no one else has gotten sick in our house and that our soon to be bundle of joy is “healthy” in his bubble! There’s so much more I could write but just want people to know they are not alone!!

  4. KT says:

    I also wish it was a requirement to be reported! C-diff is incredibly difficult to completely remove from the home, as most sanitizers & detergents don’t kill it. The FMT is a fantastic approach to eradicating the infection. There’s also an antibiotic called Dificid that works incredibly well, but it’s difficult to get a doctor to prescribe it and for insurance to cover it ($$$). If Flagyl and Vancomycin aren’t working, please speak to your doctor about Dificid and/or the FMT. I know I’m extremely late to this article, but hopefully anyone reading this will know/learn about these other options. ?

  5. Sarah says:

    I had C-dif while I was pregnant. My son is now 11 and he was born healthy. The only way I got rid of the C dif after many rounds of Flagyl and Vancomycin was to load up on probiotics. My Dr.’s said it wouldn’t really help, but I was desperate. I bought really good probiotics and started taking lots of them and the c dif FINALLY went away for good. My baby was ok.

    1. Mai says:

      Hi sarah, what was the name or brand of the probiotic that you bought?

    2. Allison says:

      I would also love to know which you took! I’m on my third time with c diff and it’s encouraging to hear probiotics helped for you.

  6. H says:

    I too contracted C-diff (after a vaginal delivery where I was given iv antibiotics due to premature rupture of membranes/unknown GB status). We ended up having a 20 day NICU stay that is the likely culprit. Postpartum with cdiff was incredibly rough, along with my commitment to breastfeed our son as long as I could. I barely ate, nearly never slept and spent almost 5 weeks in the bathroom before my kindly Nurse Practioner finally said “no one had tested you for cdiff — lets do that I’m worried”. Thankfully one (long tapered) round of vancomycin – we started with that because I had been having issues for so many weeks and was starting to see pus/bloody tissue – and I was basically back to normal. I had a second spell about 10 days after stopping, but NP and the doctor she works with suggested I try a probiotic along with seeing if my body could recover. After two more months of up and down weight loss, GI issues and food issue things cleared up and I lived to tell the tale. Unfortunately due to the high risk of c-diff to my son we have had to be extra cautious about antibioitic use (including poorly treating a Staph diaper area infection that we basically just try to keep at bay). He also has suffored as we believe vanocmycin got into my blood stream and therefore breastmilk (adding to the long list of exposures to antibioitics a NICU baby gets weather they need it or not). Since breastfeeding on Vancomycin his GI has never been well. He has bouts of diarrhea, hives and allergic type reactions to breast milk and now many of the things we introduce as solid foods too. He also developed eczema. I believe this is all due to the over exposure to multiple antibiotics via me and directly from the NICU. We’re working on building his gut health and have transitioned to a hypoallergenic formula while we introduce solids. I am still not convinced that he doesn’t have cdiff as well (as many NICU baby’s do carry it). As a result of the high carriage rate it’s difficult for our doctor to determine if treatment is the best option for his GI issues. So frustrating that I was never once warned of this while in labor/delivery or after and that my OB let me linger for weeks losing over 40 lbs before a NURSE pointed out it could be something dangerous.

  7. Felecia says:

    I am definitely coming into this conversation late but stumbled upon it due to being 8 weeks pregnant, recently got off of antibiotics and now have a terrible gut issue. Not sure if it’s c-diff but wouldn’t be surprised. ANYONE READING THIS AND NEEDING A NON-ANTIBIOTIC CURE FOR C-DIFF… FLORASTOR IS IT!!! 4.8 rating on Amazon. Today is my first day taking it and I kid you not, I’m already feeling better. No stomach pain, no tightness or bloating, no gas, no diarrhea. My OB told me it is safe to take. I’m so happy to finally have some relief.

  8. Lynn says:

    I am writing this comment nearly 5 months post partum hoping that I can help aliviate an alone feeling for someone suffering. I caught c diff while in the hospital after the birth of my daughter. I was given two very strong rounds of clyndamicin due to GBS during pregnancy. Not once did anyone educate me on the risk factors. I kept contacting my midwives with all my symptoms, not once did anyone think of c diff until 2 months post partum and 55 pounds of weight loss my doctor finally did a test. I walked in for my discharge appointment and my midwife says to me, “so do you have c diff? We’re all wondering?”… excuse me? What do you mean? Only then did my midwives educate me on the high high risk factor of the antibiotic given to me during labour that I essential was given a c diff infection. Plus dirty hospitals. It was a perfect storm situation. Fast forwards 5 months post partum to today, suffering from weight loss, memory loss, dizzy spells, lack of appetite, GI issues that I can’t begin to describe, severe joint pain, bad headaches, I can barely carry my baby around without being completely exhausted. Even tho I sleep I am so tired. It’s not from “being a mom” it’s from
    This disease. This illness. I have been given vanco and flagyl 4 times and I still cannot get rid of my symptoms even with probiotic use. 5 months of absolute suffering. As a new mom I’m so isolated I barely get out in fear that I will need to make a mad dash to a toilet. I also crapped my pants repetitively for three months. It’s been absolutely awful.
    On a positive note I’ve still been able to breastfeed my daughter and she appears to be healthy and thriving.