Thrush is an overgrowth of the naturally occurring yeast in our bodies.
Yeast is an integral part of our digestive systems and helps to build a healthy immune system, just as there are good and bad bacteria that inhibit our digestive systems, there are good and bad yeasts that build up in our bodies and an overgrowth of the bad bacteria and yeast can contribute to illness and thrush.
Yeast overgrowth is generally due to diet or illness and everyone is susceptible to thrush, regardless of whether or not they are lactating.
You can get thrush even when exclusively pumping and pass it onto your baby through contamination from your pump and bottle parts.
When your immune system is low or under pressure, or your diet is high in processed sugars and processed foods, the good bacteria and yeast are often outnumbered by bad which can lead to a yeast overgrowth and thrush.
Thrush is easily remedied by OTC anti fungal ointments and can be prevented by taking care of ourselves and our bodies with getting enough good, healthy foods as close to their natural forms as possible.
If you find you are suffering recurring bouts of thrush, take a look at your diet. Cut out sugars, processed foods and increase your probiotic foods like kefir, lemons, garlic, fruits, vegetables and nuts and legumes, avoid taking Brewers yeast as a supplement for a few weeks, unfortunately if your body is already struggling with a yeast overgrowth adding extra yeast will only create a bigger problem.
Thrush thrives in warm, moist, sugary environments. Keeping your breasts dry, clean and cool by gently cleaning your breast with warm water and a gentle, unscented soap and drying well before and after each pumping session and wearing cool, breathable fabrics such as cotton can also help you avoid yeast overgrowth, it is also important to change your breast pads often.
Breastmilk is high in naturally occurring sugars which are beneficial in feeding and growing your baby’s healthy gut flora in order to develop a healthy, functioning immune system, but because of the sugar content in our breastmilk, lactating mothers are at higher risk of developing nipple thrush.
Symptoms of thrush include:
- pain and burning during pumping / nursing.
- Itching nipples and areole
- Peeling or cracking of nipples
- Stinging / stabbing pains
- Pink or red shiny skin on and around the nipple and areole
If you have thrush, treat with nystatin or gentian violet, baby should be treated as well to prevent reinfection, even if baby does not present with symptoms or latch directly onto the breast.
You should continue the treatment for at least 10 days regardless of improvement before then.
Boil all pump parts, bottles, teats and dummies in a salt water solution on the stove for at least 10 minutes, careful not to melt or burn your parts.