Yeast is tricky because it's often misdiagnosed. Many new moms breastfeed in pain, believing an improper latch is the problem. Others reach a point where they assume breastfeeding hurts no matter what. In fact, undiagnosed yeast is one of the main reasons women give up on breastfeeding.
The good news is that yeast, or candida, is treatable. The hardest part of solving a yeast problem is diagnosing it.
If you have the following symptoms, you could have a yeast infection:
Pain that continues or begins after your baby is 2 weeks old, especially if feedings are going well.
Pain that varies in intensity during the day, from highs to lows.
A feeling of dread at the thought of breastfeeding because it's so painful.
The best way to get rid of yeast is to treat both yourself and your baby, even if he has no symptoms. Then there's no chance you'll be re-infected.
Although there are over-the-counter treatments for yeast, you should visit your doctor if you think you have a yeast infection in your breast. Here are some guidelines when treating a yeast problem:
Use an antifungal ointment for nipples. Apply it after every feeding, wiping off any excess before the next feeding.
Consider using a low-level anti-inflammatory ointment for your nipples. You can mix it with the antifungal ointment in the palm of your hand before applying it.
Acidophilus, a probiotic available in health food stores and drugstores, is also helpful. Open a capsule, mix the powder into a paste with water and apply it to your nipples once a day.
If you have shooting pains in your breasts, you might need an oral medication. Check with your doctor about this.
Take ibuprofen to help reduce pain.
Do not use lanolin products because they can make the yeast worse by trapping it and allowing it to grow. Also, don't rub breast milk on your nipples or treat yeast with your baby's liquid antifungal medication if he has thrush. Both of these fluids contain sugars that can feed the yeast rather than help get rid of it.
There are no dietary restrictions during yeast treatment, nor do you have to take extra sanitation measures, such as throwing away bras or previously pumped breast milk.
Keep breastfeeding your baby, unless the pain is so great that you need to take a break and pump for a feeding or two and bottle feed.
You breasts should start to feel better after several days of using the ointments. The internal shooting pain might take a little longer to go away.
The key is to be patient and make sure you get proper treatment. Yeast is famous for improving slightly from over-the-counter treatments, then coming back and causing even more pain. If you're taking Fluconazole for it, finish the course even if you start to feel better before the pills are gone.
This treatment works for your baby's thrush, but make sure you still treat your baby, even if he shows no signs of oral yeast, to ensure that you don't get re-infected.
Swab an oral antifungal solution around your baby's mouth and cheeks. Check with your doctor for medications, dosage and more instructions.
If your nipple yeast or your baby's thrush is resistant, he might need to take an oral medication. If you think you have a severe case of yeast, see your doctor.
Tips for success:
Check with your doctor before starting any treatment.
Treat your baby for oral yeast when you have a nipple yeast infection, even if he shows no symptoms. Then there's no chance you'll be re-infected.
Treat yeast aggressively and don't skip medications.
This information is courtesy of Bravado Designs, the brand synonymous with women's breastfeeding success for 18 years.
Source: Heather Kelly is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)
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