If you’re a breastfeeding mama, chances are you’ve heard of the dreaded thrush. I escaped thrush and the two other breastfeeding horrors: mastitis and clogged ducts the first time around, but with my second child I had the not so pleasant experience of dealing with thrush.
This post contains affiliate links. Read my policy here.
How do I know if I have thrush?
At first, I almost didn’t know I had thrush– I was just trying to get rid of my baby’s awful diaper rash and my mom mentioned to check her tongue for white spots. Sure enough, there were white spots on her tongue. A quick trip to the doctor confirmed it–my baby had thrush.
Signs/symptoms of thrush in mom:
- Red/pink nipples, itchiness, flaking or cracking skin
- Deep stabbing pain in breast (this means the thrush has made it to your milk ducts)
Signs/symptoms of thrush in baby:
- Bad diaper rash that won’t dissipate with traditional diaper rash creams
- White spots on tongue, the inside of upper or lower lips or on cheeks
- Fussiness when nursing or making a lot of “clicking” noises.
- Pulling on and off your breast once latched
How to get rid of breastfeeding thrush
Thrush is an absolute beast and getting rid of it is no joke. If you stay vigilant, you can kick it quickly–it just requires patience!
You can (and should) continue breastfeeding while you have thrush. It may decrease your supply if baby is too fussy to stay at the breast for too long, but you can get your milk supply back by feeding on demand or power pumping after you get things under control:
Clean off your breasts after every feed and let them air dry for 5-10 minutes
Just plain soap and water will do.
Use Grapefruit Seed Extract
Dilute 5-10 drops of the GSE in 1 ounce of distilled water and apply this to your nipples after each feed. You can also swab this in babies mouth (coating their tongue, sides of cheeks and underneath upper and lower lips prior to each feed.
You can also take GSE 3x per day (this is especially helpful if you have thrush in your milk ducts and you’ll know you do if you have burning, stabbing pain deep within your breast)
Apply coconut oil
Coconut oil has amazing anti fungal properties. Look for organic, cold-pressed coconut oil and apply to nipples after you’ve applied GSE.
Apply an anti-fungal
If you don’t want to go the all-natural route with GSE, use monistat 7 and apply that to your nipples. It should work quickly to take away the burning and itching!
Mom and baby should both start taking a probiotic
Make sure these are high quality probiotics. Baby probiotics come in either powder or liquid form. I got the powder and either wet my finger to swab in her mouth, or used mixed a little water and powder on a q-tip to swab in my baby’s mouth.
Change your diet
Sugar feeds yeast, so cutting out sugar is very beneficial if you’re trying to combat yeast. If you google diet for getting rid of yeast, you’ll likely come across the candida diet.
This diet is far too restrictive for breastfeeding moms, so make sure you’re getting plenty of calories. Eliminating dairy, sugar and wheat for a few weeks should help to get rid of the thrush and keep it away.
If all else fails, try Gentian Violet
This treatment is over the counter and has been around forever. Warning: it’s super messy. It typically comes in a 2% solution, so you’ll need to dilute it to 1%. You do this by adding equal parts Gentian Violet and water.
Swab the GV on your nipples with a q-tip and let air dry. Feed baby immediately after. This will stain baby’s mouth, but will go away after a few days. You can rub coconut oil over baby’s face and mouth to help the stain wipe away easier. Repeat this process once per day for up to four days total, but no more.
If all of these measures yield nothing or the pain is just too intense, your doc may prescribe an anti fungal for you or even a nipple ointment like all purpose nipple ointment.
How to get rid of a diaper rash caused by thrush
Stop using wipes until the diaper rash gets better. Try either wet cotton balls or a damp washcloth. Most wipes have irritants in them that will just make things worse. After I used washcloths for a while, I got tired of doing the laundry so much and switched to water wipes, which worked beautifully.
Apply monistat 7 to the affected area. At first we tried lotrimin AF, but that didn’t really do anything. Monistat 7 worked wonders. I mixed a paste of monistat 7 and triple paste cream and applied after each diaper change.
Let baby “air out” a couple hours each day or if it’s warm outside, you can let baby air out in the sun for a bit, as sun kills the yeast quickly.
I also had good success making a paste of probiotics and coconut oil and rubbing that on the yeast rash.
Things to remember about getting rid of thrush
You and your baby must be treated at the same time or you will continue to pass the thrush back and fourth.
After symptoms totally dissapear it’s important to keep up the treatment for 1-2 weeks after.
Wash everything that you or your baby wear/come into contact with (clothes/towels/burp cloths) in hot water (if you have the sterilize cycle I’d use that). You can even add drops of GSE to the load of clothes for extra sanitizing.
Boil baby’s pacis every night for 20 minutes.
Have you dealt with breastfeeding thrush before? Let me know what worked for you!