Breastfeeding and Thrush

If you follow me on Instagram (<– PS. I recently combined my accounts to make my life easier! Make sure you’re following me here for all things wine, fitness, food, and – of course, cute baby/toddler photos ;-) ), you are well aware that James and I had a run-in with Thrush.

Yay.

Can you sense the sarcasm? Ha!

Thrush while breastfeeding is NOT fun and I do not wish it upon anyone. What is Thrush? Basically, it is a fungal infection of your nipples and/or breasts caused by a yeast (Candida) that normally lives on our skin. When the yeast grows out of control and enters your milk ducts, Thrush happens. And yes, it is the same fungus/yeast strain that causes yeast infections in the lady bits. Ick.

For more information and resources on Thrush, check out this site. (Kelly Mom is my favorite for all breastfeeding questions/concerns, check it out if you haven’t yet!)

I am fairly certain both James and I had Thrush from Day 3 or 4. As with all newborns, he had a teeny tiny mouth and, at least for me, that always causes a bit of breastfeeding pain at the beginning. However, this time around, the pain didn’t subside after a few weeks… It just kept getting worse. Not only were my nipples extremely sore and it hurt to wear anything but a super baggy t-shirt, I had stabbing pains after each nursing session. It was MISERABLE and after it got to a point where I no longer wanted to breastfeed, I knew I needed to see a Lactation Consultant.

Yes, I know I probably should have seeked help a bit sooner, but I honestly just thought it was a small mouth/minor latching problem that would correct itself in time. Yeah, no…

The weekend prior to the 4th of July was my breaking point, and decided to Google my symptoms during a Saturday evening 2am feed. FYI – I don’t recommend Googling health symptoms in the middle of the night when you are sleep deprived ;-)

To my surprise, ALL of my symptoms pointed to Thrush of the breasts/nipples. I was also surprised (but I should have assumed) that recent antibiotic usage as well as steroid usage (such as a rescue inhaler for asthma) can increase your risk of Thrush. I had to use antibiotics and steroids twice while pregnant thanks to a nasty chest bug AND I also had been using a rescue inhaler for my asthma as my pregnancy with James triggered some breathing issues for me. AND because I was GBS+ with Dean (no test with James since I had been + before), I was given IV antibiotics during labor. I am certain all of these things combined weakened my natural fungal defenses and allowed the Thrush to set up shop in my body.

Thankfully, James’ pediatrician was open on July 3rd (PSL!) and was able to prescribe him oral Diflucan (a liquid anti-fungal medication) as both baby and mama need to be treated simultaneously to cure Thrush. If only one is treated, the fungus will continue to pass back and forth. It’s a tricky one to rid yourself of!

My OB’s office was closed over the 4th of July weekend and the on call message did not get passed onto my doctor (I was SUPER annoyed because I was in pain and wanted treatment!). Thankfully, I have a few OB’s in the family and was able to have them call me in a prescription for Diflucan as well. I took a double dose which took care of 75% of the pain. Unfortunately, Thrush likes to linger… and linger… and then linger some more. It’s like a bad house guest that JUST. WON’T. LEAVE.

In addition to taking the Diflucan pills 72 hours apart from one another, I also washed EVERYTHING in hot water and vinegar for three weeks, only used towels once (wet towels can harbor yeast… gross), gave James a new paci every 2 hours and boiled pacis after each use, changed my t-shirts/bras every time they got even remotely damp from milk. I am still using a 50-50 vinegar/water rinse on my nipples after each feeding as apparently vinegar’s acidity level creates an unfavorable environment for fungus. I’ve heard direct sunlight helps as well, but I didn’t want to expose my neighbors to such a sight, HAHAHA!

Honestly, it probably took about 2.5 weeks to be completely pain and symptom free. Although sometimes I think I still feel random pains that I think must be related. So, if you’re currently experiencing Thrush, be patient. Keep doing what you’re doing and know that it takes time. It should, however, feel a little better after a few days so if you’re still in excruciating pain, give your physician a call back for a different treatment.

If your Thrush/pain is only in the nipples and not yet the breast tissue, you can try to just be treated with anti-fungal creams. James’ doctor said that they prefer to use oral medication to prevent the baby from consuming any cream. Obviously, ask your doctor and your babe’s doctor what is best for your individual situation!

Moral of the story, SEE SOMEONE RIGHT AWAY IF BREASTFEEDING DOES NOT FEEL RIGHT!

I most likely would have avoided a few weeks of horrible pain had I just seen a doctor sooner.

Oh well, you live and you learn!

Are there any other mama’s who have experienced Thrush? Do you have any tips you’d like to share?

Comments

  1. Oh man our experiences are almost identical! I dealt with undiagnosed thrush for SIX weeks after I had Lars. I went to three different lactation consultants, and the first two quickly dismissed the possibility of thrush because Lars didn’t have any of the symptoms. I was finally at my breaking point when I had my six week checkup with my OB and she referred me to a specialist who FINALLY diagnosed me. Such a relief! But I was annoyed that I had to spend my first six weeks of motherhood in excruciating pain. I’m so happy yours has been treated and you’re feeling better now! Thank God for meds!

    • Oh I am so sorry, Taylor!!! James didn’t have any symptoms in his mouth, just a peeling diaper rash which his ped said is another symptom that is commonly overlooked. I’m impressed you stuck it out so long. It is PAINFUL. And yes, thank goodness for medication!

  2. eeeeeep good to know!
    Kayle (The Cooking Actress) recently posted…Monthly Meal Plan-August (Back to School)My Profile

  3. Fiona MacDonald says:

    OH man I hear you sister, we had thrush early on in our journey but luckily it looked like just Sully got it so he had a little antifungal he took and I seemed to be okay ( I’m not actually sure if it even was thrush, just always seemed like his tongue was white so hard to be sure! ) I’m so glad you’re feeling better, with all the stuff that can happen with breastfeeding , it really doesn’t add to what a mama is already going through!

  4. Hi Becky thank you so much for this, I’m so sorry for that. I haven’t experienced it but I’m currently experiencing my milk drying up and I’m going nuts about it. Do you have any recommendations?
    Jija recently posted…21 Easy Healthy Recipes For Pregnant WomenMy Profile

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