Fighting Thrush–and Winning!
Thrush–it can be one of the most painful and long lasting problems you will deal with as a nursing mom. The symptoms can appear in the baby, the mother, or both. Thrush, like mastitis, can be so challenging that it has been known to shake even the most devoted breastfeeding woman. This article will highlight just exactly what thrush is, how it looks and feels, and highlight the steps you can take in order to kick it to the curb for good.
What is thrush?
Thrush is an over growth of yeast in BOTH the mother and breastfeeding baby. Determining the cause of thrush is difficult because there are a number of possible culprits. The leading suspects include nipple damage (often from an incorrect latch), poor diet, vaginal thrush, and a compromised immune system (and/or recent use of antibiotics).
What does it look and feel like?
- Oral thrush is characterized by white spots or patches in the mouth. In more severe cases, the tongue may be coated white, along with the insides of the cheeks. A sore throat may accompany these more severe cases.
- Genital thrush starts with small red bumps and does not respond well to normal diaper rash creams or is recurrent.
- Nipple thrush is characterized by nipple pain and/or deep breast pain. Nipple pain is often described as burning or itching, while breast pain is more of a deep stabbing or shooting sensation. Pain in the breast or nipple often occurs during or immediately after feedings.
How do I treat it?
- First–talk with your pediatrician. Your pediatrician may prescribe you a medicine called Nystatin, an anti fungal cream, which you will apply after each feeding.
- Ask your pediatrician about giving your infant acidophilus, a specific probiotic strain, to help boost their immune system. You can give it to them 4-5 times a day by sprinkling some of the powder from a capsule and letting them lick it from your finger.
- For the diaper area, clean them with a vinegar and water solution after each changing. You should make a solution of approximately 1 cup of water with 1 T vinegar and have it ready for use. This solution will help kill the yeast present on the skin. It is recommended that you not use a standard baby wipe when cleaning the diaper area. Use a clean cloth with water only to clean the area and follow up with the vinegar solution.
- After cleaning with the vinegar and water solution, apply an anti-fungal cream such as Nystatin or Lotramin (commonly used to treat Athlete’s Foot and available at the drug store).
- Again, talk with your child’s pediatrician. You may be prescribed an antibiotic. Talk with your doctor about the pros and cons using an antibiotic. One potential problem is that an antibiotic will wipe clean both the good and bad gut bacteria in your system. You may consider trying an approach without the antibiotic for a few weeks first and then using this method as a last resort.
- Take acidophilus tablets up to 6x day to help populate your gut with healthy bacteria. This will help fight off the bad bacteria in your system and keep it out.
- Take garlic capsules to help boost your immune system. Find a high quality brand like Kyolic. You should aim to take up to 6 capsules a day.
- Take echinacea to also boost your immune system. Since echniacea can become less effective over time, take it for 10 days and then take a few days off before starting another round. You can take up to 4 tablets a day.
- Take grapefruit seed extract. You can buy this both in tablet form or in a liquid concentrate. If you buy the concentrate, you can add it to your water bottle and drink it throughout the day. Grapefruit seed extract is one of the most powerful and natural anti-fungals you can use. Remember to take it daily.
- After feedings, apply the vinegar and water solution to your nipples and allow to air dry. You should also try to expose your nipples to air as much as possible since yeast thrive in dark and damp areas.
- Reduce sugar and refined carbohydrates in your diet. Yeast live off of sugar and since thrush is a system-wide problem, you have to kill the yeast living in and outside of your body.
- Lastly, apply Nystatin, or Lotrimin to your nipples after feeding. Your pediatrician may also prescribe you Jack Newman’s All Purpose Nipple Ointment, an anti-fungal ointment that also contains a pain reliever to soothe sore nipples.
Feeling afraid after reading about how best to treat thrush? Don’t be. This list seems intimidating, but once you get your treatment arsenal assembled and ready, you’ll be able to kick it from your system. We recommend doing ALL of the above to treat thrush. If you pick and choose, you might find a brief remission of symptoms, but it will likely return in full-force. Take it from one of our contributing writers who battled thrush for over 3 months–do it right the first time!
Looking for Un-Nursing Wear?
If you need to add some nursing clothing to your wardrobe, but don’t want to spend money on pieces you’ll only wear for a short period of time, then head on over to Melody Lane for the best in regular clothing that is versatile enough to wear before, during, and after breastfeeding! They offer trendy, classic, and comfortable clothing that is hand-picked for all the life stages women usually experience. With nothing over $100, always free shipping, and new styles featured every season, Melody Lane makes sure your “fashion meets life”.
The Symptoms and Solutions of Mastitis
Breastmilk Oversupply Problems and Solutions
The Art of Breastfeeding: Mastering the Latch
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Katherine lives in Kansas City with her husband, toddler, and 3 furry children. When she is not at home with her daughter, she is finishing up her Ph.D. in psychology or working on one of her multiple half-finished art projects. She loves ceramics, crafts, fitness, paper mache, and pretending to learn French and Spanish.