Yeast Invasion

by Audra Krystell Kish

Looking back at Clark's baby pictures, I now notice he had thrush for quite some time before it ever affected me. In a six-week  photo,  his mouth  agape in a smile, I now notice  his tongue was completely white.  It wasn't until he was three  months old that thrush became a real problem.

I had one of those perfect breastfeeding experiences, where my son latched on like a hungry shark within minutes of his birth, and we'd been an unstoppable duo ever since.   His latch was immaculate: I didn't suffer cracked nipples, and despite a minor duct plug the day my milk came in, I found breastfeeding to be the easiest, least  painful skill I'd ever learned.  That is, until the thrush sneaked into my breast.

It started out innocently enough, with a pulling pain in my nipple while Clark nursed.   It felt like he was sucking too hard and pulling my nipple too far back into his throat.  Ow!  I realized that something must be wrong, as I'd never felt pain while nursing before.  After a visit to a doctor, Clark started on the yellow liquid...the evil nilstat/nystatin/mycostatin (just like the devil, it too has many names!) Anyway, the doctor and the pharmacist both told me to rub the liquid into my nipples.  HA! What a mistake that turned out to be.  DO NOT DO THIS!  The yellow liquid is high in sugar (hmmm...what does yeast like to eat?) and is sticky!  I screamed when peeling 1/4 of an  inch of nipple off along with my flannelette nursing pad.  The raw,  exposed nipple did not help in abating the thrush.

As for my son, he was prescribed the yellow liquid 3 times!!!  Three bottles of this crap, which gave him foul smelling, mucous-y poo, not to mention gas and a rash on any part of his body that the liquid touched.  His chin was constantly rashy from the inevitable, vile-tasting mouthful that he spat out . My nipples were not getting any better, either. The thrush would seem to go for a while, but it always came back.

Finally, I gave up on the yellow liquid!  The thrush took exactly one week to clear up as soon as we STOPPED the medication.  Here's what I did:

1. After each feeding, I washed my nipples in a solution of 1 tsp baking soda mixed into a glass of warm water (baking soda is known to inhibit the growth of yeast).  I rinsed it off with a splash of warm water, and let my nipples air dry.

2. I washed my nursing pads in HOT water (along with the diapers) and changed them very often.  I went around topless/braless when I could.  I  never wore a bra to bed.

3. I started taking one L. Acidophilus tablet daily to restore the good bacteria in my body that keeps yeast at bay.

4. I changed the bedding constantly, and aired out the bedding for a few hours each morning.

5. I reduced the amount of refined sugar in my diet.

6. This information is rather, er, sensitive, but I think it is
important and makes sense.  Do not let your partner touch or kiss your breasts after sexual contact.  The vagina naturally carries some yeast, and if vaginal secretions get on the nipples, so does yeast. Make sure to wash nipples with baking soda after sex if you can't/don't want to impose a temporary "hands off".

7. This is sort of weird, and I'm not sure if it was what did the trick, but I think that gripe water was helpful.  The nilstat gave him such bad gas, since 3 weeks of consumption of it had created an imbalance in his intestinal flora.   The balance was not restored until after a week after treatment, so in the meantime, I started giving him (alcohol-free) gripe water to help with gas.  Well, there is baking  soda in gripe water, so after the last feeding before a predicted long stretch of sleep, I'd squirt some gripe water into his mouth.  This may have helped, but I'm not sure.

After being vigilant about these things (not so much with the gripe water thing-- that was just an afterthought) we beat the thrush!  It has now been over 6 months without a pain, a rash or a white patch in the mouth.  I washed my nipples with the baking soda every night before bed for a month or so after, but I don't anymore and we're still yeast free! Luckily, the thrush never created a vaginal yeast infection for me,  nor a bum rash for Clark.  However, when I think back to what my pharmacist told me, I have a hearty, bitter chuckle.  As he handed me the first bottle of nilstat, he said: "You should notice a major improvement in less than two days, and the thrush should clear up by the end of the week.  This medication is VERY effective."  HA!  Obviously, this man never had a breastfeeding wife and child.

Audra Krystelle Greer
206 Cumberland Avenue North
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
S7N 1M4




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