This post is part of the Breast-Kept Secrets: Breastfeeding Advice from One Mom to Another series. Go back and read all posts here.
This post was originally published August 19, 2011.
One of the biggest breastfeeding challenges I have endured is thrush. I really cannot complain because I had a mild case. However, my thrush led to my second baby’s 5-month battle with yeast infections.
It’s important to know the symptoms of and remedies for thrush, so if you or your baby are infected, you can continue on with a successful breastfeeding experience.
What is thrush?
- white patches on baby’s mouth and tongue
- red, itchy, burning nipples
- shooting pain in breasts
- a vaginal yeast infection in mother or baby*
*It’s important to note that even boy babies can develop yeast infections in the diaper area. A baby’s yeast infection presents itself as a BAD diaper rash that will not go away or continues to return despite use of diaper creams. Check out the post I wrote on yeast for Jack Be Natural here.
Thrush develops when candida, a yeast normally found in the body, grows out of control. This can happen for a number of reasons. Moms or babies who have been on antibiotics are especially at risk.
Although I had no pain medications during my second labor, I tested positive for group B strep in both pregnancies. I had hospital births and was required to have a dose of antibiotics during labor to help prevent complications if my baby were to come in contact with strep B.
I believe the antibiotics I received in labor led to my thrush and my baby’s 5-month yeast infection.**
I only recently realized that I believe I had thrush when my daughter was a newborn. My first few weeks of nursing her were very painful (which surprised me since it had not been that long since my older daughter had weaned), and I was also red and itchy.
However, my daughter did NOT have any white patches in her mouth. I know now that not ALL of the symptoms have to be present in order for it to be thrush.
The tell-tale symptom was her persistent yeast infection.
I had never even heard of a yeast infection until my second daughter had one. I discovered it while researching her terrible diaper rash that just wouldn’t heal.
I even switched to cloth diapers in an effort to help her rash (and became a cloth diaper addict!).
Her pediatrician FINALLY diagnosed yeast, and a combination of a prescription anti-fungal cream and CJ’s BUTTer Plus got rid of it.
|When cloth diapers didn’t help my baby’s rash, I knew it was yeast.|
Whereas you may not always be able to prevent the use of antibiotics (although I would try to avoid them if possible), there are a few things you can do to help prevent the overgrowth of yeast in your body:
1. Eat foods full of probiotics (like sourdough bread, fermented foods, yogurt, kefir, etc.), or
2. Take a good probiotic supplement
Now, I was very good about taking probiotics during my pregnancy, but I really stopped taking care of myself after the birth. To be completely transparent, I had a hard transition going from one kid to two kids, and I stopped taking care of myself a lot.
My baby was sick a lot her first winter despite exclusively breastfeeding.
And I think a lot of her sickness was probably the result of me not taking care of myself.
I thought I was doing the right thing by trying to take care of my girls….but I was doing them a disservice by not being a healthy mommy!
1. My thrush went away on its own after I started taking my probiotics again. I also used lots of lanolin to soothe the soreness. You can even make a paste of probiotic powders and water and rub it directly onto the infected area.
2. Genitian violet is a dye which kills bacteria and can sometimes treat thrush. It is available without a prescription but should only be used on adults.
3. I 100% recommend CJ’s BUTTer Plus as a yeast fighter for babies with a yeast rash. Apple cider vinegar is another remedy that Autumn at All About Cloth Diapers has used.
I would talk to your doctor or another trusted healthcare provider about other remedies for you and your baby.
Have you or your baby ever had thrush? Do you have any remedies to share?
**Whether or not one should receive antibiotics during labor is an entirely different post for another time. I err on the side of caution. I believe those who have home births even take antibiotics if they test positive for strep B. I wore a hep lock instead of an IV with my most recent labor, which allowed the nurse to administer the antibiotic while still giving me the freedom to move around.
***This post is completely my personal opinion based only on personal research. I am not a doctor. I encourage you to talk to your doctor or a trusted healthcare provider if you suspect you have thrush.