I had a horrible time trying to breastfeed Gaia as a newborn. I’ll have you know that one thing constantly lead to another and we were battling thrush for the first three months of her life. It was nearly always coupled with something else and that made it harder to stand. I spent lots of time nursing and crying and lots of time pumping and crying. And I admit, I even tried supplementing just to give myself a break. (Gaia never took a bottle or pacifier though, little booger.)
So there I was, completely discouraged and poisoning my milk with tears that would run down my face and fall onto my tiny little nursling. We tried Diflucan, we tried probiotics, we tried vinegar washes and grapefruit seed extract. We tried gentian violet and we tried APNO. Nothing worked until three months in when I was doing all of the above. I took handfuls of pills, washed clothing like mad, washed my nipples, swabbed my baby’s mouth, and applied topical creams and things for 3 weeks. Finally we were left to nurse in peace. Goodbye yeast!
Naturally the second time around I was weary of the yeast beast. I washed my hands regularly, applied Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter (it’s olive oil based and is lanolin free) to prevent and heal cracking, and changed my clothes and showered daily. Things I thought I knew but didn’t:
- Cracking is not normal. Nipples should never crack or get blisters. These are early signs I ignored because I assumed it was a normal part of adjusting to breastfeeding.
- Antibacterial soap is the devil. I actually knew this before but had some leftover from the birth (midwife requested) so I had been using that to wash my hands. Wrong… I actually promoted yeast growth!
- Showering is nice. When your landlord finally replaces your hot water heater and you figure out it’s the only time you get to yourself all day… those 15-20 minutes are divine. I totally forgot.
So if you hadn’t guessed already, here I am again 5 years later with yeasty breasts. Anders has been on probiotics for a week and a half now so at least his mouth isn’t all patchy and he isn’t having a hard time nursing. I’m hoping I caught this round of thrush early enough (it’s not in my milk ducts yet) that I can get it to go away. I will take grapefruit seed extract (3x daily) and a probiotic (2x daily) alongside my prenatal. I’ll be adding vinegar to my routine for nipple washes and in my laundry. And I’m cutting out excess sugars and eating more yogurt.
I have been spraying my nursing tanks with tea tree oil as well after each nursing session. I really don’t want it to get out of hand. Here’s to hoping I can get rid of it without prescription medications or turning my baby’s mouth violet.
As a bonus, thrush has been known to cause some gassiness in babies. Perhaps I’ve just been secretly battling thrush this whole time. That means that once we’re rid of it Anders could possibly be an even happier baby…
Though I don’t know if I could stand it with a smile like this…