Moms, do you have thrush in the breasts from pumping or breastfeeding? If so, then you know just how frustrating and painful it can be! The burning, the itching, the pain. Ugh. This is no fun for anyone. But don’t worry, there are ways to get rid of it.
I battled thrush for 3 months before I was able to get rid of it for good! I’m going to share with you what I used that actually WORKED. I got this tip from my twin girl’s NICU nurse who told me she had thrush super bad and this is what worked for her too. My prescribed meds and topical ointment were not getting rid of it, so I thought “What the heck? It’s worth a shot to try!”
With that said, here’s everything you need to know about thrush in the breasts and the secret I used to banish it for good!
First, What Is Thrush?
Thrush in the breasts is a condition that can occur if you’re breastfeeding or pumping.
It likes to grow in warm, dark, and wet places. Hence, if you leak or wear a damp nursing pad for too long without changing it, thrush can creep up on you.
It is a pesky infection caused by an overgrowth of a yeast fungus called candida albicans.
This fungus is normally present in small numbers on the skin and in the mucous membranes. While it is normally harmless, candida can sometimes overgrow and cause thrush in the breasts for a number of reasons.
Symptoms Of Thrush In The Breasts
If you’re wondering what thrush feels like, here are some symptoms to look for:
- Itchy nipples
- Pink or red shiny nipples
- White rash on nipples
- Cracked nipples that may bleed
- Stabbing or shooting pain in the nipples or breasts (pain may start in the nipples and extend into the breast tissue)
I found out about these symptoms from a lactation consultation when I tried to breastfeed one of my girls in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).
The lactation consultant took one look at my boobs and was like, “Woah, you are really red!”
She went through the symptoms listed and I had EVERY single one. She said this was one of the worse cases she’s ever seen. Ugh, wonderful. I’ve never breastfed or pumped before so this was all new to me. I assumed my pump setting was up too high which was causing discomfort and redness on my nipples.
Let me tell you, pumping and breastfeeding should NOT be painful.
If it is for you, most likely something isn’t right. Thrush is extremely uncomfortable when it elevates, so if you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to speak with a lactation consultation or your OBGYN asap.
Thankfully, thrush is usually harmless and there are things you can do to hopefully prevent it from happening.
How To Prevent Thrush Before It Begins
- Wash your hands often
- Change breast pads A LOT (preferably use disposable pads and change them after each pump sesh)
- Sanitize pumps parts daily in hot soapy water, boiling water for 10 minutes, OR use a microwave steam bag
- Wash bras, reusable breast pads, and clothing in hot water
- Dry clothing daily on a hot cycle
Hopefully by doing these things will prevent you from getting the pesky infection BUT if you happen to get it, here are some ways to treat it.
How To Treat It
Diflucan (fluconazole) is an antifungal medication used to treat thrush in the breasts. It is a prescribed oral medication that comes in pill form only. Since there is an overgrowth of yeast in the body, Diflucan works by preventing additional growth of the fungus that causes thrush.
This pill is typically taken once a day anywhere from one to three weeks. It is important to finish the entire course of medication in order to clear it up EVEN if you’re feeling better.
I was on two rounds of Diflucan back to back because my thrush was so severe.
A combination topical ointment.
My OBGYN prescribed a safe topical ointment for me to use to relieve the skin irritation I was having; itching, cracked nipples, whiteness, and burning. Fun, I know. They told me to apply this after each pump sesh. Plus, it’s safe to use if you’re breastfeeding or pumping.
The combination drug prescribed to me included Miconazole, Mupirocin, and Betamethasone. Each of these active ingredients works together to prevent the overgrowth of candida yeast while reducing inflammation and swelling.
This did provide some relief while I was taking Diflucan, but again, since my case was so severe, it did not clear up my thrush completely.
This leads me to the secret of how I got rid of my thrush for GOOD!
Ok, this is THE miracle treatment that cleared me up in a few days. Thank you to the NICU nurse who shared this secret with me! The best part? It’s over-the-counter.
You are probably familiar with Monistat being used as an antifungal medication to typically treat vaginal yeast infections. It also helps treat ringworm, athlete’s foot, and in my case, thrush. The active ingredient in Monistat, miconazole, works to prevent the growth of yeast. You’ll find this in a variety of formulations, like creams, ointments, and suppositories.
Personally, I used this cream and applied it to my nipples and surrounding areas. Before I would pump, I would always wash it off to be on the safe side. I preferred to apply it at my last pump sesh before bed so the medication had longer to work.
Common Questions and Answers
Can you get thrush from pumping?
Yes, you can get thrush from pumping. The best way to prevent it is to practice good hygiene, like washing your hands regularly and sterilizing your pump parts after each use.
Do I have sore nipples from pumping or thrush?
Sore nipples are a common problem for many breastfeeding moms!
Several possibilities to cause sore nipples may be thrush, cracked nipples, pumping, or improper latch. So let’s cover how each of these possibilities may cause sore nipples.
Pumping can sometimes cause this, but it is usually only a problem if the flanges are not positioned correctly or if the suction is too strong.
If you think your sore nipples may be caused by thrush, look for other signs, such as white patches on your nipples or burning and itching.
When latching, your baby should take most of the areola (the dark area around the nipple) into his or her mouth, not just the nipple itself. The tongue should be down, covering the lower gum, and you should hear a rhythmic “au-au-au” sound as your baby sucks.
If your baby is only latched onto the nipple, it will rub against the hard palate, which can be super painful. In addition, improper latch can cause improper milk drainage, leading to engorgement, blocked ducts, or mastitis. To ensure your babe is latching on the right way, watch a few YouTube videos or speak to a lactation consultant.
I’m pumping with thrush, can my baby get it through my breast milk?
No, your breast milk can not transfer thrush to your babe. However, breastfeeding CAN give your baby thrush if they latch onto your nipples and you have this yeast infection.
What are the symptoms if my baby gets thrush from breastfeeding?
In babies, thrush often appears as white patches on the tongue or inside of the cheeks. If your baby is feeding less or seems irritable, these may be signs that thrush has spread to the throat or esophagus.
To Wrap It Up
I hope this post gave you some helpful tips to battle this pesky yeast infection if you’re suffering from thrush in the breasts.
I know how painful and frustrating it can be! If you suspect you have thrush, follow up with your OBGYN or a lactation consultant regarding the next steps to get relief.
Until the next post, hang in there mama, I’m sending you all the positive parenting vibes!
Thank you for being here today!
Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or what’s worked (and not worked) for you in getting rid of thrush! We could all use a little help along the way. 🙂
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About The Author
Lindsey is the proud mom of two little miracles, Mono Mono twin girls, and one AMAZING older bro! She is the founder and content creator of Mono Mono Twins, the blog Intensive Therapy for Kids, and Co-Founder of The LENN Foundation 501(c)(3) which helps children with cerebral palsy (like her sweet nephew, Lenny) receive grants for intensive therapies to thrive. ♥
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