Breastfeeding Hurdles: Thrush
Just the sound of that word makes some moms shudder! Thrush is known to be an unpleasant experience and has derailed many breastfeeding journeys that would otherwise still be going strong. Let's learn more about how to recognize it and what to do about it so you can keep moving forward in your breastfeeding journey.
What is it?
Thrush, or oral candidiasis, is simply an infection caused by yeast. It occurs when the normal balance of candida fungus present in the body is thrown off by certain medical conditions or medications such as steroids or antibiotics, and as a result there is an abnormal overgrowth of the fungus.
How to tell if your baby has thrush:
White, splotchy patches in baby’s mouth (on tongue, gums, or cheeks)
Redness of baby’s mouth
How to tell if you have thrush:
- Pain during breastfeeding
- Deep, stabbing pain in the breast
- Nipple changes: rash, itching, cracking, redness
- Areolar changes: flakiness and/or shininess
When breastfeeding babies have thrush, they commonly pass it to their mothers. Because it is highly contagious, it can be a difficult cycle to break so it’s imperative that both mom and baby are treated.
What to do about it
As always, the first step is to contact your healthcare provider. The most common treatments are:
- Azole antifungal ointment (topical)
- Antifungal for baby’s mouth
- Gentian violet
Additionally, you can try these methods:
- Use nursing pads
- Keep pacifiers, bottles, and breast pump parts clean/sterilized
- Thoroughly clean any toys that go in baby's mouth
- Wash any clothing, bras, or nursing pads that come in contact with nipples in hot water and dry on high heat.
- Rinse nipples with water & allow to air dry after feedings
- Limit sugar, dairy, and yeast in your diet during treatment
Be patient and see this treatment through. It can be difficult to get rid of, but certainly not impossible!
Most importantly, know that thrush does not have to end your breastfeeding journey early! With consistent enforcement of the measures prescribed by your doctor, you can get past the hurdle of thrush and keep breastfeeding as long as you wish.
Have you experienced thrush? What did you find to be the most helpful?
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