We all house the fungus candida albicans in our body. They are a part of our GI system, and the bacteria keep their population in check. Breast feeding generates a perfect environment for thrush. Candida albicans thrives in moist, warm, sugary places, which is how your baby’s mouth is during breast feeding. The infection passes to your nipples.
Rarely, thrush on the nipples may gain entry in to the milk ducts, causing burning and shooting pain within the breasts. Thrush pain lasts whilst the baby is feeding and tends to aggravate after the feed. If the baby develops thrush as well, there will be white patches on the roof of the mouth, tongue, gums and on the inside of the mouth.
If you touch these patches, you will find the base is raw and may even bleed. Thrush can pass to the baby’s digestive tract and to his bottom and result in red spots that may take time to heal.
Candida albicans takes hold of the nipples, especially, if they are sore and cracked. Unless treated, thrush passes back and forth between you and the baby.
Signs Of Thrush While Breastfeeding
Common manifesting features of thrush in breastfeeding mothers include:
- Nipples are cracked and they don’t heal. Occasionally deep cracks in the nipples may be associated with hemorrhage spots on the nipples or rarely bleeding.
- Nipples are red, shiny; and there will be white patches.
- Nipples are itchy especially during the time when the child is not breastfeeding.
- There is pain when the baby feeds, and the pain remains for an hour or so after the feed.
- Alongside, the baby will have white patches in the mouth and may also refuse feed occasionally.
Preventing And Treating Thrush Naturally While Breastfeeding
The following are recommended to keep thrush at bay:
- Sterilize feeding bottles, pacifiers, and breast pumps. Or at least boil these well after every use, to stay away from re-infection.
- Wash all the baby’s toys in hot, soapy water.
- You need to maintain the strictest levels of hygiene; bathe at least twice daily and wear a clean bra. Keep your nipples clean and dry. Wash them with warm water and dry off with a soft towel.
- Wash your hands often, particularly after diaper changes.
- Use a separate towel for everyone in the family.
- Wash your clothes as well as the baby’s at 60 degrees C, to destroy the fungus.
- Steer clear of sugary foods and foods that contain yeast.
- Add vitamin C rich foods to your everyday menu; vitamin C boosts immune levels and prevents growth of Candida. Have limes, lemons, guavas, mangoes, apples and cherries. You may also consult your health care provider and have vitamin C supplement.
- You may also add probiotics to your everyday meal to encourage the ‘friendly’ bacteria that hold back the thrush. Have a bowl of yogurt daily; or confer with your physician and have a probiotic supplement.
- Local application of tea tree oil can help in killing the fungi while calendula tincture can help in hastening the process of healing. However clean your nipples thoroughly before feeding your child.
- Homeopathic drugs are considered safe to prescribe for children above the age of three months. Consult your doctor to suggest the right dosage and medication.
Thrush should not prevent you from breast feeding, although it can make it painful. You may breast feed while you’re both being treated.