Thrush can affect a mothers breast whilst she is breastfeeding and often occurs if the mother or baby takes antibiotics and if there has been some damage to the nipple.
Signs of Thrush
- sudden onset of breast and/or nipple pain after some days or weeks of painfree breast feeding - the nipple may become itchy or be supersensitive to any touch
- shooting pains in the breast (may be deep in the breast) after feeding - the pain can be severe and can last up to an hour after the feed
- cracked nipples which dont heal despite optimising attachment
- permanent loss of colour in the nipples or areola
- pain occurs in both breasts (except in early stages) because the baby transfers the infection from one nipple to the other during feeding
NOTE: There may be no obvious signs of infection on the breast - this doesnt mean you dont need treatment . Even if you experience no pain on feeding you should be aware of the risk of infection but need not be treated immediately.
If you think you have thrush
It can be difficult to be sure that the problems you are having are due to thrush. It is possible to confuse some of the symptoms of thrush with the difficulties resulting from poor attachment of the baby to the breast. Seek further help from your midwife or health visitor before deciding that thrush is the cause of your painful breastfeeding.
- Probiotics can help restore bacteria e.g. Acidophilus capsules and can help to keep thrush under control (available from health stores or chemists)
- Carry on breastfeeding. It is possible to achieve pain-free feeding again although thrush can be very disheartening to deal with. It will not harm your baby if you continue to feed.
- Be sure to wash your hands well after each nappy change as it is necessary to be very careful with hygiene in order to get rid of the thrush completely
- Use a separate towel for each member of the family
- Make sure all dummies, bottle teats, nipple shields or plastic toys are carefully washed and sterilised. (Boiling for 20minutes while the infection lasts may be best) Steam or microwave sterilisation is also effective but cold water solutions appear less so.
Both you and your baby will need treatment at the same time in order to get rid of the thrush infection. Usually once treatment begins the pain and other symptoms will begin to improve within 2 -3 days. It may take longer for full recovery. If there is no improvement at all consult your midwife or health visitor again as the cause of the pain may not be thrush.