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If you’re a mama in the throes of thrush, are expecting or know someone that needs a little help in recovering from thrush, here are the top ten tips I learned while treating it (and overcoming it) myself.
1// If you’re expecting, take a probiotic! And try to avoid any antibiotics, especially towards the end of the pregnancy. Because antibiotics reduce the amount of good and healthy bacteria in your body, as well as the bad, it’s more likely that you will end up with thrush with all the hormone changes and lowered immune system response after delivery. On top of that, if you breastfeed, that glorious milk for baby also has a high sugar content, which makes your nipple a great breeding ground for candida and if you don’t have a high enough supply of good bacteria to combat that… hello thrush. This is something I didn’t know while pregnant, and “Did you take any antibiotics recently?” was the first question I was asked by my lactation consultant when I realized that something was wrong… like excruciating pain and cracked, bleeding nipples. Yeah, ouch.
2// If you realize that you have thrush, I’m SO sorry. First, PRAY! And then, take a probiotic! A high quality, high potency acidophilus supplement that is non-dairy is what you need to look for. Head to your nearest health food store and ask someone, and then start taking it right away.
3// Vinegar. Begin taking about three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar a day and then add a tablespoon of it to a cup of water and use a cotton swab to clean your nipples after each feeding.
4// Raw, organic coconut oil is also your friend. Apply liberally after each feeding/cleaning.
5// Sunshine. If you can get out in the sunshine, without being seen by all the neighbors, and let yourself air out and catch a few rays of vitamin D a couple of times a day, it will do wonders for you.
6// Cleanliness. You don’t want to extend the time you’re dealing with thrush by even a millisecond, so make sure to keep things squeaky clean. Wash your bath towels after each use. Wash bras, blankets, towels, etc in HOT water and a cup of vinegar or even bleach. Use disposable nursing pads and change often as well.
7// Try to remove as much sugar and dairy from your diet as possible (not an easy task by any means, but it will speed up the healing process) and up your water intake.
8// GSE or grapefruit seed extract capsules (not grape seed extract), the active ingredient should be citricidal. For oral GSE, take 250 mg three or four times a day in tablet or capsule form. And/or mix 5- 10 drops of liquid GSE, with the active ingredient of citricidal, very well in 30 ml (1 ounce) of water. Use cotton swab to apply on both nipples and areolas after the feeding, let dry and use alone or in conjunction with the ointment mentioned in tip number nine.
9// I ended up getting Nystatin from our pediatrician to use in baby’s mouth so that we wouldn’t pass the infection back and forth and could also be applied directly to nipples after feedings. My doctor prescribed a compound ointment made up of Mupirocin 2% ointment (15 grams), Betamethasone 0.1% ointment (15 grams), to which is added miconazole powder so that the final concentration is 2% miconazole. This cream could be applied sparingly after feedings and didn’t need to be washed off, and performed wonders for me. These prescriptions can be helpful in more severe cases and when thrush is not treated early enough with the more natural remedies. I think the first line of defense in any nursing situation is for mama to take a probiotic and avoid antibiotics… I’ve certainly learned my lesson!
10// Keep ibuprofen handy to ease the pain a bit. I know how much feeding your baby hurts during this time… I cried and prayed through it for about two weeks straight, and even though nothing took away the pain, ibuprofen did help to take a little bit of the edge off.
Keep your hopes up, mama, the searing pain will come to an end, and you can get back to that happy, loving, bonding time with your baby that you’ve been dreaming of.