April 20, 2009

Thrush Breastfeeding – What Causes it and what can be done?

Posted in Category : Women's Health

Candida albicans or thrush is a fungal infection in a baby’s mouth which can spread to the mother’s breasts. The infected can spread back and forth between the mother and baby. In the mother it can cause cracked nipples, deep shooting pain in the breasts during and after feeds, itchy, red or burning nipples, and vaginal thrush.

What Causes It?

The fungus Candida albicans is normally present in our digestive system and is kept in control by beneficial bacteria. But sometimes it gets a chance to grow and spread and causes infection. Breastfeeding can create a perfect environment for thrush as it thrives in a warm, moist, and sugary atmosphere, which is precisely what your baby’s mouth is like during breastfeeding. The other reasons could be consumption of sugary foods, antibiotics intake or use of steroids, stress, inadequate rest, allergies, and nipple injury due to poor positioning. An excess of antibiotics can kill the good bacteria and can trigger vaginal yeast infections.

What Can I do About It?

The best thing to do is to keep yourself clean and dry, especially your breasts, as moisture is the best breeding ground for thrush to thrive. Wash your nipples before and after breastfeeding. Wash your innerwear with warm water and add a cup of vinegar to your clothes and the baby’s. Wash the baby’s toys and pacifiers or dummies and breast pump parts in boiling water to avoid re-infecting yourself or the baby.

You can take acidophilus tablets or eat plenty acidophilus rich foods like unsweetened yogurt. In the blender add unsweetened yogurt, some salt, a few slices of onions, a small amount of freshly crushed ginger, water and a few cilantro leaves for extra flavor. Drink this twice or thrice a day. This will clear your digestive system and make you feel better. Buttermilk is also a good option.

If your baby is bigger you can give the baby yogurt from cow’s milk. If you and your baby are prescribed antibiotics make sure to rinse your mouth after taking the medicine. Use only plain water to wash your nipples. You can use a few drops of essential oils of tea tree, clove, or oregano oil in your bath to reduce infection. You may apply a few drops of essential oils of tea tree, clove, or oregano mixed with carrier oil like coconut oil on your breasts, leave them for some time and then wash and pat them dry. Coconut oil is a natural anti-fungal.

You can reduce your intake of sugary foods, fresh fruits, rice or wheat and foods rich in carbohydrates and starch. You can try kiwi or lemons which are rich in vitamin-C. Add garlic to your cooking as it is effective against thrush. Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables and foods with fiber. You may also take a mild painkiller to ease the breast pain.