This page will discuss thrush and breastfeeding tips, advice and natural cures.
What is thrush ?
Thrush is a yeast infection. Yeast is a normal part of everyone's digestive system, but when there's an overgrowth, a thrush infection sets in. A fungus that feeds on milk (Candida albicans) finds a way inside the cracked nipples, in the mom’s milk ducts and inside baby's mouth.
Thrush causes sore nipples and can cause pain inside your breasts
Thrush in babies (oral thrush) can cause a sore throat and tongue. Sometimes it can also cause red, sore skin in the diaper area (diaper rash), along with irritability and excessive gas.
Mom and baby need to get treatment for thrush together, even if one of them does not show any symptoms of thrush. Otherwise, you may pass the infection back and forth.
Thrush and breastfeeding - Causes of thrush
- Moms who have a history of vaginal yeast infections are more vulnerable than others.
- Anemia in the mom
- Pacifiers used by your baby put your baby at a higher risk for oral yeast infection (thrush in mouth)
- Diabetes in the mom... read more on breastfeeding with diabetes
- Antibiotics taken during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. can increase the risk of breast infections like thrush
- Antibiotics given to baby can also increase the risk of a thrush infection
- Long-term use of steroids
- Cracked or bleeding nipples allow for the entrance of the fungus causing breastfeeding thrush
- Oral contraceptives containing estrogen increase risk
- Damp nursing pads or bras being against the skin for too long
- Using plastic lined nursing pads can restrict air flow and cause an infection
Thrush and breastfeeding - Foods to avoid:
- mushrooms, Pickled vegetables and fruits, Deep fried foods, Monosodium glutamate, Smoked fish and meat, Dried fruits, Yeast products like bread, Dairy products, Sweets, Beer, wine, sodas
Symptoms of thrush in mom:
- Extreme nipple or breast pain: Sometimes a sharp shooting breastfeeding pain radiates from the nipple into the breast or into the back or arm.
- Cracked nipples
- A decrease in milk supply
- Nipples that are itchy and/or burning and that may look red, shiny, or flaky and/or have a rash and small blisters.
- A vaginal yeast infection (vaginal thrush)
- Sores at the corners of the mouth (angular chelitis)
- A rash in the moist areas of the body such as under the arms or in the groin area
Thrush in infants:
- A reluctance to nurse because of his mouth (thrush mouth) being sore
- Creamy white patches inside the mouth, along the inside of the gums, inside the cheeks, roof of mouth, throat, or on the tongue
- Infant thrush also causes gas in babies
Thrush treatment (cure for thrush) & natural remedies for thrush
the yeast infection is inside the breast and not just on the nipple an
oral medication will be needed. Candida treatment usually takes 2-3 days
to clear all symptoms
Tea tree oil:
Use a couple of drops of pure tea tree oil mixed with coconut oil or olive oil and apply to the nipples after each feeding. Mom needs to make sure that she washes her nipples before breastfeeding baby again.
Apple cider vinegar:
After each feeding, you can dab a few drops of raw, apple cider vinegar around the nipples.
Oral Nystatin drops for the baby's mouth. A cotton swab may is used to apply the medication to the mouth being careful not to insert a swab back into the bottle that has touched baby's mouth. The medication is given after all daytime feedings.
For the mom Nystatin cream will be given first. It is rubbed into the nipples and areola after every feeding. The cream does not need to be washed off before nursing. Nystatin pills are sometimes suggested if symptoms still continue.
Garlic is known to be a potent yeast fighter. Add 4-6 capsules of odourless garlic to your diet during a yeast outbreak and for 1-2 weeks after all thrush symptoms are gone
Aloe Vera gel:
Apply to the affected area for relief
Echinacea is an immune system boosting herb.
Yeast cannot live in acidic surroundings.
You can use vinegar to rinse off your nipples and baby’s bottom if necessary.
Use a half water half vinegar mixture. Use a squirt bottle and squirt the vinegar solution on baby’s bottom before closing his diaper. This can be used in the same way for a vaginal thrush
Gentian Violet can be used on the nipple area by painting the nipples and areola once a day at night. (very helpful with nipple thrush)
Gentian Violet may also be used to paint the baby's mouth.
It stains clothing, so dress baby and yourself in clothing that can be bleached or that you can throw away.
Grapefruit Seed Extract:
This treatment consists of the mother taking a 250 mg capsule orally three times a day.
Thrush and breastfeeding - While you have the infection:
- Continue to breastfeed
- Care for your breast and nipples for pain (read more on nipple pain page)
- Do not rub breast milk into your nipples while you have a yeast infection (yeast thrives in milk)
- Eat less foods containing high amounts of sugar and/or yeast.
- Wash all clothing that comes in contact with the breast milk with a cup of vinegar.
- Do not freeze your milk during a yeast infection, the yeast is not killed by the cold.
- Pump if your breasts are too sore to breastfeed, but make sure that you use a professional grade pump like Medela lactina or Medela pump in style.
- Take ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) for pain relief.
- Try drinking green tea three or four times a day. It will help in boosting your immune system
- All things that come in contact with breast milk during yeast treatment should be boiled for 20 minutes every day. (toys that where in baby’s mouth, bottles etc)
- If you have developed a vaginal infection as well, you should try to only wear cotton panties and should rinse the area with the vinegar and water solution every time you go to the bathroom.
- A supplement called Lactobacillus acidophilus helps promote the growth of "friendly bacteria" This can be given for baby thrush too.
Thrush and breastfeeding - Prevention:
- The best prevention of thrush is a good diet, a healthy immune system and a healthy intestinal tract.
- Wash your hands often and use a throw away towel (paper towels. ) for drying your breasts and hands.
- Inadequate rest and stress can lead to your body being more acceptable to thrush
- Nursing pads should be replaced as soon as they become damp.
- Your nipples should always be washed with cool water and then air dried after every feeding.
- If either you or your baby has thrush, you can apply pure, raw, virgin coconut oil to your nipples and to baby’s mouth to help avoid passing the yeast back and forth.
Many moms feel that they want to give up on breastfeeding after a while due to the many different difficulties they might be experiencing during breastfeeding, but can I please encourage you to read our page on the benefits of breastfeeding, not just for your baby but for your sake too.
Other pages on "breastfeeding problems" in connection with thrush and breastfeeding
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Wic Breastfeeding Peer Counselor/IBCLC
I found your article informative..I have a mom who is exclusively bf/pumping. 20 day treatment w/diflucan and oral nystain drops for baby. Occasional …
6blendedmom3 Not rated yet
This was such a great help! I as wondering why I was experiencing such sharp pains and a decrease in milk supply. I would drink 5-7 bottles of water …
Laura - mother to 4 week old Not rated yet
Hello, Please can you tell me if I need to wash vinegar solution off my nipples before feeding again. Sometimes I think my boy has finished feeding …
white spots on her cheeks and white tongue Not rated yet
My daughter who is 3 months old has been on nystatin for two weeks, it doesn't seem to help she had white spots on her cheeks and white tongue and now …
life saver Not rated yet
This is the best website which has saved my life. Thanks!