Breastfeeding and Thrush For Mom and Baby

Amy Jo Jones

Flickr photo by Daquella manera
When I was still breastfeeding, my son had a permanent white patch right in the center of his tongue. I assumed that meant he had thrush.

At a well-check visit, my pediatrician confirmed that it was not thrush, it was only milk residue.

I asked her how could I tell the difference or how to tell if I had it and could pass it to the baby?

She gave me one of those looks and said "If you had it, you would know."

Thrush is a common yeast infection in a baby's mouth that can affect your nipples during breastfeeding. While yeast is a normal part of everyone's digestive system, when there's an overgrowth, an infection can occur. Then your baby can pass it to you, so it's important to seek treatment for yourself and your baby at the same time so you don't pass it back and forth.

Common signs in nursing mothers are:

  • itchy, red, cracked or burning nipples 
  • deep, shooting breast pain during or after feedings

Signs in babies include:

  • White patches on the inside of the lips and cheeks that look like cottage cheese
  • Discomfort when nursing or sucking on a pacifier or bottle.

Doctors can prescribe an anti-fungal prescription for you and your baby. If you want to try alternative therapies, you can apply gentian violet to your baby's mouth. Gentian violet is a dye and it's messy, but it's said to be more effective than prescriptions because it kills yeast on contact.

In the meantime, wash all toys, pacifiers, breast pump parts and your poor, red, cracked and sore breasts!

Did you have thrush? Did you try gentian violet?


Note: This is general mom advice and you should consult your doctor if you believe you or your baby has thrush.

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