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?

Daily Ramble #2

I realized that I should title these posts in the singular tense since I will just be talking about one thought per day ;) So, how about we head into Day 2?

I am currently on my way to Dallas and just had my first public breast pumping experience. Let’s talk about THAT today.

Spoiler: The Miami airport is not mom-friendly. And by mom-friendly, I mean moms of all types – moms traveling with their kiddos, moms traveling alone and needing to pump, etc.

Due to timing, I was able to schedule my morning sesh prior to boarding the flight. I headed to the regular women’s restroom and was relieved to see they had a bench with an electrical outlet nearby. I wouldn’t have to sit in the hall – YAYYYY!! Turns out they were cleaning that side of the restroom and the evil cleaning lady told me I couldn’t cross over even though I told her it was for a medical reason.

Ugh. I avoided tears and headed out the door to the family restroom.

I felt guilty using the ONLY family bathroom within probably half a mile in either direction of the airport, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do and hope that no kiddos needed to use the facilities during that time. As luck would have it, as soon as I hooked up, mamas were banging on the door. I tried to yell “I AM USING A BREAST PUMP!!” through the door but either they weren’t having it or they couldn’t hear me. It was probably a sight to see.

I stopped for a second to let the first mom in line know I was pumping and saw she had a baby and a toddler. I told her she could come in (it was a single room but I didn’t care at that point) but that I was going to stay and continue doing my thang.

She started apologizing profusely – She thought I was just enjoying my sweet time in the private restroom… Because yes, they are SO glamorous and I’d totally spend my free time there when I could be at an airport bar instead ;)

Her baby ate and had his diaper changed all while I was hanging out in the wide open. Eh, moms are moms. We all have the same parts, yes? We lamented on the poor facilities for mamas in Miami and she complimented me on my milk production <– #awkward.

It actually was a positive experience. I haven’t really had a “fellow moms unite” moment until today. As she left, she let the other mamas waiting know that I would be a few more minutes so there wouldn’t be any additional banging on the door.

And now I have my first of many baggies full o’ Dean food for the next 2 days. On my way into the airport, I also had to explain to the security guard that my cooler/ice packs were medically needed and that my pump was, in fact, not a bomb.

Now that I am midair, I realize that the plane has plenty of electrical outlets. However, I don’t think the middle-aged man next to me would be very comfortable if I whipped out my boob, although I have no qualms about telling people what’s up when I gotta do something for my little Deany. (Thank goodness I don’t need to pump again until I land.)

Oh the life of a mom.

The one where we talk about nipples

Oh hi. Just me here getting ready to talk nipples with y’all.

If talkin’ girl parts and baby eating habits make you nervous or they’re just not your thang, that is a-okay. Just click away now before your read below!

Also, sorry to disappoint, but there are no photos of my breasts in this post, haha. As my mom once said when I was trying on wedding dresses – one of which wasn’t very modest, the girls should be reserved for Kyle only… and now his mini-me ;)

Anyways, onto the topic of the day – nipples.

I have been thinking about addressing this for quite some time now. At first I was uncomfortable and embarrassed but after attempting to find information on the subject online, I realized that there isn’t a ton of helpful data so I am going to share in the hopes that this can help another mama out in the future.

A few years ago at my annual appointment, my doctor decided to tell me everything that was wrong with my female parts. Per her words, my cervix tilts backwards which could cause issues with conceiving (obviously that was a non-issue as we got pregnant without trying…) and I have flat nipples that will be an issue when it comes to breastfeeding. My response? Uhhh thanks? Children were far from my mind then so I didn’t give it another thought except for the fact that I knew my nipples weren’t flat. What the heck was she talking about – They definitely stuck out when I looked at them, LOL.

Her words came back to me as soon as we discovered I was pregnant. First of all, I wanted to call her up and tell her that my tiltin’ cervix caused no issues in the baby-makin’ department. But then I remembered the flat nipple comment. Flat nipples… flat nipples… I was so confused so I took to the Internet to do some of my own research.

Flat or inverted nipples are actually a fairly common “issue” in women of childbearing age. And no, just because you are diagnosed with them, it doesn’t mean that your nipples are flat OR inverted. AND it doesn’t mean that you will fail at breastfeeding. All it means is that when a baby latches on, your nipples tend to either flatten or invert rather than protrude. You can test this by lightly pinching the outside of your areola – If your nipples extend outward, you’re “normal.” If they flatten or invert, this post is for you.

So what’s a gal with flat nipples to do?

Not talk about it, apparently. Well whatever. I’m talkin’ about it. Each of our bodies are made differently and it is not like I did anything to cause my nipples to be flat, so in my mind, there is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about!

From what I gather, breastfeeding is hard. It’s hard if your nipples are normal, so I imagine it’ll be a bit more difficult for those of us who face additional challenges.

The main goal for those of us with flat/inverted nipples is to maintain a protruding nipple while the baby latches on and begins his sucking instinct. Without the feeling of a nipple hitting the roof of his mouth, the instinct doesn’t naturally start and this is where breastfeeding issues can begin.

While I have yet to breastfeed (c’mon baby, we are waitin’ for ya!), I have purchased a few products to help the initial breastfeeding process. I found all of these on Amazon for less than $30 total. That’s a steal if they can help you achieve breastfeeding success!

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Product #1 – Lansinoh Latch Assist Nipple Everter. I tried it. It’s basically a little pump for your nipples. Yes, it’s okay to laugh, LOL. It didn’t feel amazing when I tested it out but it did make my nipples stick out a little further than normal. Success? We shall see.

Product #2 – Medela Contact Nipple Shield. It is basically what it sounds like. A “shield” you wear over your nipples while breastfeeding. It still allows for skin-to-skin contact but it also gives the perception in the baby’s mouth of a long nipple, increasing the instinct to suck. This is apparently a great product to use when you are just starting out in order to encourage latching and sucking from the babe.

Product #3 – Medela SoftShells for Inverted Nipples. Basically, this product is worn over both breasts underneath a bra. It is meant to slightly stretch the ligaments in each nipple, making them more everted. You are supposed to wear these for a few weeks before birth and then while you are awake, at least an hour prior to breastfeeding. I haven’t been the best at wearing them, but when I do I can definitely notice a difference. This product is also meant to help sore nipples, so if it turns out my nipples cause no issues in the baby eating department, I’ll still be able to use these when things get a little sore.

Are all of these products 100% necessary for breastfeeding success? Probably not. In my mind, however, they can’t hurt, especially for only $30.

I plan on writing a follow-up post on my challenges and successes, so I’ll let y’all know how things go in the breastfeeding department once MJ makes his appearance.

Mamas – Do you have any breastfeeding/nipple experiences or expertise you would like to share?

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