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How to Treat a Yeast Infection in Breastfeeding

Learn how to treat a fungal infection, aka a yeast infection or thrush, from lactation consultant Melissa K. Nagin in this Howcast video.


Yeast infections, unfortunately, are very common in breastfeeding as well. With a yeast infection, otherwise known as thrush, you can have either a nipple thrush or a deep breast thrush. With a nipple thrush the nipple will sometimes look very red, very pink, almost shiny. Sometimes it can even be white.

But, in all cases there is severe pain. The typical responses of moms that you ask, without putting words into your mouth tell me what it feels like, they will say burning, feels like daggers are behind my nipple, feels like needles are jabbing into me. All of those are key signs that it is a thrush. And that lasts all day long. It doesn't matter if the baby's on, or off, or you're sleeping, or you're awake. It lasts all day long. It's not an isolated incident.

In cases like this there are a few different options. One is if it's a nipple thrush we need to get a prescription for Nystatin cream. Usually, even if the baby's showing no signs of thrush, we still have to treat both mom and baby. So they would need an oral suspension for their mouth which the pediatrician would recommend. It's Nystatin oral suspension.

A lot of times the mom will have it, baby won't. The baby might, the mom might not. If the baby does present with anything we're looking at white patches in their mouth. They might have an extensive diaper rash. It's pretty obvious.

For a deep breast thrush which, again, has become a systemic infection at that point, we really have to think about talking to your doctor about putting you on Diflucan. That does not mean one pill, because that's for a vaginal yeast infection. Talk to your lactation consultant, and she will discuss with you dosage. But, it is very important, because this is a systemic infection, to not just have a one or three day pill.

The other option, although messy, but definitely works, is gentian violet which you can get at the health food store. It is purple. It will stain your baby's mouth. It will stain your clothes. It will stain your nipples. It eventually does go away. But, it does work. It is the most natural remedy of all. So, that is another option.

In addition to the fact that during this time anything that touched the baby's mouth really should be sterilized or thrown away, especially if they're bottle nipples or pacifiers or anything like that. With your clothes an ideal thing to do would be to put a cup of vinegar into the rinse cycle of your wash and really kill all of the yeast.

It takes a while to get rid of a yeast infection. The best things that we can do naturally are also diet related. We have to watch the sugars in our diet so it doesn't feed the yeast. So, as much as it kills us to break away from the bread and the fruit any of the sweets, during this time period, so nothing is feeding this yeast, we might have to go on a little bit of a diet. But, eventually, when it goes away you can have all that back.

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