Breastfeeding your newborn baby can be one of the most tender, bonding moments that you will ever share with her. There is rarely another moment in which you will ever feel this close to her as you nourish her and she snuggles against you. Unfortunately, if you have thrush, this wonderful experience can quickly become something you dread at every feeding.
In this article, I have done my best to try to answer some frequently asked questions by moms all around the world. Moms have been asking questions like these: “What are the symptoms of thrush?”, “What does thrush feel like?”, and “Is there anything I can do about it?”
What is Thrush and What Causes It?
Thrush is a yeast infection of the nipples that is most commonly caused by fungal organisms called Candida albicans. These organisms thrive in warm and moist area of the skin, mouth, gut, and bottom area. When the conditions are just right, they multiply excessively, which can lead to an infection (thrush).
What Does Thrush Feel Like?
Dr. Yvonne Bohn, an OB-GYN at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, told Romper in an email interview that thrush often results in itching, burning, and painful nipples and breasts.
Women who have experienced thrush often describe the pain as a severe and excruciating stabbing pain in the breasts behind the areola. The pain is so intense that even the most loving mothers may end up dreading the feeding time for their babies.
What Does Thrush Look Like?
In addition to the distinctive stabbing or burning sensation in the nipples, women may also notice a change in how their nipples and areola look. The nipples will likely be red and might be cracking. If you notice that the skin on the nipple or areola is shiny or flaking, you most likely have thrush.
How Thrush Can Affect Your Baby
Thrush can be easily transferred from your nipples to your baby. It may be possible that you will notice symptoms in her before you yourself notice anything in your breasts.
Symptoms of thrush in a baby include white patches inside her cheeks, on her tongue, or on her gums. The patches look very much like leftover milk or cottage cheese. If you try to wipe them off, they may leave red sores that may or may not bleed.
Another sign that your baby might have thrush is an overall cranky demeanor due to the pain or discomfort in her mouth. She may struggle to latch onto your breasts or make a clicking sound with her mouth.
When to Call the Doctor
If a hurting mom does not get her thrush treated by a doctor, she will most likely eventually give up. Fortunately, if you do receive appropriate treatment before the milk dries up, you and your baby can continue on with breastfeeding, which is the best thing that you can do for your baby.
What Can You Do?
In addition to any medication your doctor gives you, there are a few simple changes that you can make in your hygiene and diet habits that can go a long way at combatting the infection while also soothing your painful or itchy breasts.
One of the most important things you can do to manage any skin infection is to increase your hygiene habits as much as possible. It is important that you include everyone in your household in keeping clean to fight off the infection. Follow these tips to fight thrush:
Wash hands often and thoroughly;
Have each family member use their own separate towels or washcloths;
Wash any cloth or clothing that come in contact with the infected area;
Sterilize any items that cannot be washed;
Replace all toothbrushes;
Keep your nipples as dry as possible;
Change your nursing pads often throughout the day;
Put on a clean and breathable cotton bra every single day.
You already know that you should be drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy, balanced diet in order to be healthy. When fighting an infection, a healthy diet is even more important to your body.
If you have thrush, you may have noticed that another unfortunate symptom is craving foods that are full of sugar and carbohydrates. However, research has found that a high sugar level is one of the main causes of thrush.
Other foods that some moms have claimed to have made their thrush symptoms worsen include foods that are full of yeast (such bread, muffins, mushroom), dairy products, and artificial sweeteners. Be sure to ask your doctor and your baby’s pediatrician before making any drastic changes in your diet.
Replace all those foods that are full of sugar and carbs with a diet that is varied and rich in vitamins and minerals. Nutritional supplements can be purchased from health food stores or over-the-counter in your pharmacy, but you should check with your doctor first to be safe.
4. Home Remedies
Thrush cannot survive in acidic conditions, so distilled white vinegar can actually kill it in a matter of weeks. Add about a cup of the vinegar to your bath water or rinse your nipples in a mixture of 2 teaspoons of vinegar and 1 cup of water daily.
To Wrap Up…
I hope you now have a better understanding of how thrush feels and looks. If you do have thrush, I pray for a speedy recovery. Please leave me a comment below and let me know how you found this article and what you think of it.