Aug 6, 2014

Breast feeding mystery pain: Thrush, get rid of it for good!

My third child, you would think I would be a breastfeeding pro, right? My midwives and lactation consultants kept telling me it was just my latch that was the problem. What else could it be?  So I reeducated myself on a proper latch and persevered but the pain was getting worse each day. I researched for hours a day and cried with each feeding. Sure the first couple weeks are always rough but I had 2 successful breastfed babies before this.  What was I doing wrong this time? I came across vasospasm.  Yes! This was it! This had to be the problem. No, the symptoms fit with one exception, vasospasms cause an intense pain to cold.  Cold actually helped my pain.

Like I said the first couple weeks can be rough to breast feed, no matter how experienced you are. It takes time for the nipples to toughen up.  But on week 4 and 5, I knew something was seriously wrong.  I had to take my percocet pain killers to make it through a feeding.  

Here were my symptoms.  My entire breast burned through most of a feeding, tapering off towards the end. Then stabbing burning pain inside the breast began and continued for hours, usually tapering off just in time to feed again.  That was it. I looked over the common list of breast feeding problems. I thought for sure it was not thrush (Candida) because baby had no symptoms of it and thrush was not supposed to hurt when you were nursing. That is a FREAKING lie. I finally found an article on Kelly Mom that was helpful. There's a protocol by a Doctor. Google it, if you want specifics. I did follow the protocol but was only temporarily relieved.  

This is what I tried:  Grapefruit seed extract. Its sounds like a natural solution but it's really not. Tried this for one week. No noticeable change at all. Still in searing, "punch your face in" pain.

Gentian violet. I had to run all over creation to find it and ended up paying $21 for the bottle. It made no difference and made my babies mouth purple for a week. It is also not really natural solution either.
I also tried prescription Nystatin, coconut oil and even probiotics.  
Then I made all purpose nipple ointment (or have your doctor prescribe it through a compounding pharmacy. Hear it costs over $80 for one.)  Make your own with Lotramin, Hydrocortizone and Polysporin, equal parts of each. Finally some relief! Within 12 hours the pain was majorly reduced and I could nurse without crying. I thought YAY! I can get through this! Well, in 2 weeks the pain was back, not as bad as before but enough that I wanted to hit the wall with my fist a few times an hour. 
Well, I went through a cycle of reinfection for about 2 months. NO, for real 2 months. I would be cured for 2 days and reinfected for 3 over and over again. It was bearable but come on. Some days it was too much and I wanted to cry  cried all day.  I had been sterilizing binkis and even bought 6 new bras so I could wear a clean one everyday. Still the cycle continued. Finally I prayed! "Please, there has to be a way to cure this for good!" I was immediately told what to do.  I had done so much research I guess I just needed the guidance to put it in the proper order and proper protocol.  I was prompted to go ahead and use the essential oils that I was avoiding because they can have unintended consequences on things like milk production and are very strong, and intimidating to use on or near a new baby.  But at this point my last option was either essential oils or get an prescription for Diflucan oral which has lots of nasty side effects. I went ahead and used Tea Tree, which is a great anti fungal. I was also prompted to use the All Purpose Nipple ointment for pain and to heal the scab that would form every three days.  Also to microwave all pacifiers in water for 5 minutes and to launder anything that came in contact with baby's mouth or my breast, to be washed in hot water and one cup of vinegar. I'm not kidding it was that specific.  A flood of clear and precise thoughts and I knew just what to do after all of these months of suffering, and in 3 days I was thrush free and it has not come back! 
Here is a more precise breakdown or what I did. 
  • Use Tea tree oil, straight, one drop for both sides after every feeding and shower.  Do not wash it off before feeding. (may make baby a little colicky but its worth it to kill thrush) 
  • Use one cup of plain white vinegar with every load of wash.  Wash anything that touches baby's mouth or your bare breast. Including clothes that get spit up on, burp cloths, sheets, blankets, shirts bras, pajamas etc. 
  • Microwave (boiling for 15 minutes would work too) in a glass bowl of water, anything that comes in contact with babies mouth. Including pacifiers, binki's, bottle parts or toys. If baby is a finger sucker, put socks on babies hands at all times and wash them with the vinegar load of laundry. 
  • If you are still sore and have actual scabbing and open wounds from the thrush, use the all purpose nipple ointment after the tea tree oil.  The hydrocortizone does help with the pain and the polysporin helps heal the wounds faster.  It can take 3 days for the symptoms to subside so do not give up if it doesn't work the first day.  Continue the treatment for 2 weeks no matter what! No matter how good you feel keep it up to prevent it from coming back.
You have to do all of it at the same time because it is so easy to reinfect yourself.  Your baby can also carry it without symptoms and reinfect you, so it is so important to sanitize everything and it is so simple by just adding vinegar to your laundry. I had been doing this the whole time but with grapefruit seed extract and it clearly wasn't working. I hope all my pain and suffering can bless the lives of others who are struggling with this same problem. If you are not sure you have thrush, they can do a culture for it to know for sure.  Just ask your doctor or midwife. You don't have to suffer and breastfeeding doesn't have to be so hard and you don't have to quit to get rid of the pain!  
   

10 comments:

  1. I've been dealing with my own thrush and candida infection for months now due to dumb over prescription of antibiotics and I've been miserable and I've been having the hardest time getting better. I'll have to try using more essential oils. I've dabbled in them a bit, but haven't been sure how to really go about them. Thanks for the information!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had the same issue as you with my first baby. What ultimately worked was diflucan for me, nystatin for baby, and actually pumping and bottle feeding for one week while the cracks (which had turned into open sores healed. For 2 months I was in hell :(
      Unfortunately I have it with my second baby. I was able to heal the cracks by using breast milk on gauze pads, leaving it on the nipple for 2 hours at a time under some seran wrap. However I still have tender nipples and some shooting pain in the breasts. My daughter's tongue has at least gone back to pink from having some white on the top! She's two months now and we've tried just about everything (nystatin, gentian violet, and I'm still taking probiotics, yogurt, and the acidophilus, and I'm about to go eat some garlic)! I have Melaluca (doTerra brand) and I was concerned about EO's and my little one ingesting it. I'm really concerned with the infection being in the breast now, so I am also using diflucan. I change breast pads, and wipe nipples with vinegar water after every feeding. I add vinegar to our washes and microwave steam all pacifiers. It looks like the only thing I need to add is the tea tree oil. Thanks for posting this, your happy ending is giving me hope ;)

      Delete
  2. Hello and thank you for this. I will be giving it a try just as soon as I get done here. I see that this is what you did for you, but what did you do for baby? The meds the doctor gave us is not working very well and I just want this gone!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry, my baby did not have an active thrush outbreak in her mouth. I do believe that the tea tree cleared it up for both of us. I gave her nothing and I never washed the oil off before feeding her unless I had just put it on so I think there must have been a little to treat her. Let me know if this works for you and baby. Tea tree can be hot and cause burning irritation so be careful with little ones. If it does bother either of you, a drop or two of olive oil or coconut will cool it down.

      Delete
    2. Snap after 5 lots of antibiotics i have thrush in boobs and down below have had 2 lots of oral tablets and loads of creams,baby has had 2 types of mouth creams,but guess what? we both still have it,really getting me down now,boobs hurt and itchy down below,will try this and be phoning the doctors(yawn) again,i cant imagine being thrush free

      Delete
  3. Hello! I have this exact same problem and it's killing me. :( I had a question. Do you think it's safe for ingestion of the Tee Tree oil for a 3 month old??? =/ Did you wash the sheets and towels and etc DAILY? (like should I wash her crib sheet daily?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sara, I only washed if she spit up on them or drooled on them, since she slept on her back this did not happen often. So anything that touched her mouth, got washed every day. As for the tto, I cannot tell you if it is safe for a 3 month old. I personally felt like it was safer than the prescription and over the counter medications and I can tell you it worked a HELL of a lot BETTER than any of them. 3 days, cured for good. We had no side effects. Get a good brand of oil, not just the junk at the health food store. Try doTerra, Young living, butterfly Express or Mountain rose herbs.com. FYI, butterfly express and mountain rose are the cheapest and are equal in quality.

      Delete
  4. When washing did you use your detergent and vinegar together or just vinegar by itself?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used both together, if memory serves me right.

      Delete