Thrush and Breastfeeding - Reasons, Signs, Treatment & Prevention

Thrush While Breastfeeding – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Thrush infections cause immense pain in the breast and nipples. Babies that are breastfed also face this thrush issue in their mouths. There are two types of thrush – thrush on the breasts and oral thrush on babies. Thrush on breasts causes much pain and more prolonged duration after breastfeeding the baby. The pain increases for some reason around the nipples and somewhere behind the areolas. It also stretches out the entire breast after breastfeeding.  

Many people wonder how thrush and breastfeeding affect each other. Though there are no actual signs of thrush on nipples or breasts, people usually find thrush when the nipples turn pink and cracks appear on the breast. These things cause much pain to the parts, and thus thrush affects breastfeeding. Now Let’s see all about this in detail.

What Is Thrush? 

Thrush is a fungus that usually exists on everyone’s body, but we don’t often see it. Majorly it appears in babies of less than six months due to their developing immune system. An overgrowth of yeast or fungus mainly affects the thrush. It generally grows and circulates in a moist, warm, and dark environment and is also known as Monilia, Candidiasis, or Candidiasis. 

What Are the Causes of Thrush? 

The main reason for the thrush is the cracks or damages on the nipples or breast. Few people think the high dose of antibiotics causes this problem. It can be confirmed that antibiotics cause thrush, as it decreases the helpful bacteria in our body and enables the candida fungus to cause thrush. If you are a diabetes patient, then you must be extra cautious, as diabetic people are most prone to yeast infections.

Apart from this, here are some other reasons for thrush:

  • Most people think about how the yeast fungus called Candida albicans infects their newborn child. As the newborn baby is still developing its immune system, they are not much immune against any virus or germs, so they tend to grab this yeast fungus in the birth canal itself. And this causes thrush in newborn babies. The premature children are often treated with various antibiotics, and they quickly pick these germs, and the thrush appears in consequence.
  • Thrush can also happen due to the spread of bacteria through anything. Anything touching your breast can be highly contagious, whether breast milk or hand. You must keep sanitized and properly clean some of the items while nursing your baby. They are:
  • Nursing pads
  • Nursing bras
  • Towels
  • Clothing

Signs and Symptoms of Thrush in Breastfeeding Moms 

Several women get the first indication of thrush when there is pain while breastfeeding and if the child denies being breastfed. You can see several signs whenever you have a thrush infection. The major signs as observed on babies with thrush are listed below, and if you find any of them, seek a doctor’s assistance as soon as possible:

  • If you are perfectly fine and one day after breastfeeding, you feel any pain in the nipples or the breast, and this pain eventually happens every time after breastfeeding, then this is the sign of thrush on breastfeeding nipples.
  • The pain usually lasts for a few minutes if there is no issue. But it can be a thrush infection when the pain lasts longer than usual or maybe for a few hours.
  • Both nipple and breast get affected by the pain; if only a single nipple or breast is paining, it might not be the thrush.
  • If you are perfectly normal and still getting pain in your body parts
  • If the red patches appear in the baby’s mouth

Some of the symptoms of thrush in a mother are as follows:

  • The breast becomes very sensitive, and the skin starts itching.
  • Red patches appear on the breast around the nipples, and the skin begins to crack near the nipples and areola.
  • As candida stays and grows in the dark and moist environment, thrust generally develops under the breasts.
  • You will feel a burning sensation under the red and flaky breasts.

Similarly, some of the symptoms of thrush in babies are as follows:

  • The main symptom of thrush in babies is the white spot inside the baby’s mouth.
  • White spots can be in any part of the mouth, whether tongue, teeth, gums or even in the corners of the mouth.
  • They are as white as cottage cheese, and they will not come down quickly when you wipe or wash your mouth with your hand or even with a soft cloth.
  • Another common symptom of thrush in babies is fussiness. This means whenever your kid starts sucking milk and suddenly turns away or starts crying, immediately check its mouth for any thrush. 

How Is Thrush Treated? 

How Is Thrush Treated?

Whether it develops in the baby or mother, the signs and symptoms of thrush are more severe and difficult to treat. Antifungal medications are considered the best-prescribed ones for the treatment of thrush. Such medicines are mostly available in liquid or tablets form. Usually, these medicines should be taken for two to three weeks. 

Moreover, the treatments are different for both mother and child according to their ages and infection causes. Thrush can be the symptom of other health issues too, so if it increases and becomes more severe, talk to your doctor and get a proper treatment plan for it.

  • Treatment For Mother: Thrush can come and go, so your doctor must have recommended you with the best treatment. If the thrush has developed on the nipples, breasts, or areolas, apply an antifungal cream as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Treatment For Babies: Oral thrush in babies is often treated with Nystatin and fluconazole (given by dropper) inside the mouth or tongue. If thrush has developed in other parts, take the different medication and consult the doctor.

How to Prevent Thrush? 

Thrush can be prevented by following these tips:

  • Do not forget to wash your hands and nipples after breastfeeding.
  • High levels of stress can have a severe impact on your immune system.
  • Moreover, one should also eat a balanced diet and control their sugar intake.
  • Clean all your child’s toys to prevent oral thrush, eventually leading to nipple thrush.
  • Use a breast pad that does not have a plastic liner, as these can trap moisture and make you more susceptible to thrush.

Home Remedies for Thrush 

Mild cases of thrush can get healed by themselves. But if your thrushes are severe and you have severe issues in your mouth, you can try some home remedies to cure them.

  • Table Salt: Salt mixed in hot water can be applied using a swab on the affected area to relieve pain. Salt doesn’t act as an antiseptic but helps in easing the pain.
  • Baking Soda: You can apply a mixture of water and baking soda to the affected area to contain the spread of thrush. This mixture can also be applied to the mother’s nipples before breastfeeding.
  • Coconut Oil: Caprylic acid, which is present in coconut oil, can treat thrush. However, if you or the baby is allergic to coconut oil, choose any other remedy to treat thrush.
  • Yogurt: Yogurt contains healthy bacteria known as probiotics, balancing good and bad yeast. Therefore, yogurt can be very effective against thrush. However, if your child is too young to eat it, consider applying it using a swab.

If you have nipple thrush, you can follow these thrush breastfeeding natural remedies:

  • Cut Down Sugar: Do not overeat in your daily diet as it will directly feed the yeast, and the condition will deteriorate further.
  • Consume Probiotics: Probiotics, as we discussed, create resistance in your body against germs, thus restoring the balance between bacterias in the body. Its consumption can also treat nipple thrush.
  • Use Vinegar: If your nipples are not cracked due to thrush, you can apply vinegar on them to treat thrush. Doctors recommend using apple cider vinegar to treat nipple thrush because it has anti-fungal abilities. 

How Long Does It Take to Cure Thrush?

In most cases, thrush can be cured by itself. And if you have a mild thrush, it will hardly take a week to clear out. However, this disease can pass from mother to child and vice versa. So both the mothers should be under proper supervision. Moreover, you should take proper precautions and apply antiseptic creams to the affected area. 

If the infection lasts more than a week, wait for another week, and if still there is no recovery, do visit your doctor for further consultation. The delay in recovery can also be due to home remedies, which cannot cure the disease but can successfully smooth it. 

When to Call the Doctor?

Various signs tell you that you should call a doctor now. Some signs of extreme nipple thrush are as follows:

  • You would experience extreme nipple pain. A burning sensation and sharp pain can also accompany it. If you experience any of these, call a doctor for a checkup.
  • Due to these infections, your nipples can get swollen and become red. This is a clear indication of yeast infection.
  • If your nipples look flaky, shiny, or are filled with white patches, they are nothing but nipple thrush. 
  • When thrush occurs on a baby’s mouth, you can see them struggling with it. If you notice white patches or white coating on babies tongue, it is nothing but yeast infection due to thrush. 

Apart from all these symptoms, you should contact your doctor if the thrushes are not treated even after one week of treatment.

Most people find cracking of nipples or breast skins normal, but this can cause severe pain while breastfeeding. The thrush can pass from mother to child, and this causes white patches inside the mouth. To prevent thrush, take certain precautions and if it develops, consult the doctor for necessary treatment. 


1. Can You Breastfeed With Thrush?

Breastfeeding with thrush is not safe for the child as they can get sore patches in their mouth, leading to thrush. Therefore, it is better not to feed your baby for some time and let the thrush heal completely.

2. Can Thrush Be Passed From Child to Mother? 

Yes, you can get thrush from your baby’s oral thrush. Moreover, you can also get thrush by kissing your baby. Therefore, you should not contact the infected area and apply ointment to smother it.

Also Read:

Hives while Breastfeeding
Nausea during Breastfeeding
Sore Throat when Breastfeeding

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