I’m so glad I persevered with breastfeeding, because for the past 4 months it’s been dead easy. For the first 6 months it wasn’t. One night Simon came home to find Joshi and I on the couch, crying. I was in pain everytime he fed and he was feeding a lot. As it turned out, I had nipple thrush. I got it in the first couple of weeks only to have it disappear and then return again. It was horrible. Fortunately I only had mastitis once, which lasted less than 24 hours, but boy was that nipple thrush persistent. There were days when I felt so over it all, but I really wanted to work through it, and I did. This is how …
My Appointment With Mrs Chatterbox
When I was almost ready to give up on breastfeeding, after a few months of it, I made an appointment with Mrs Chatterbox, a lactation consultant. I was desperate to get some help in solving the mystery of my sore (understatement) nipples. When I spoke to Mrs Chatterbox on the phone she sounded really scary. Her voice was so stern, but I went with her anyway because she said she’d come over to our place. That sold it to me because at the time Joshi was still terribly unimpressed with being strapped into a car seat (understatement No.2).
Anyway, she came over one morning. And left two hours later. She was really expensive so I assumed she’d be really focussed and professional, but I was wrong. (Never assume). She was a real chatterbox, telling me all sorts of stories about her granddaughter’s near death experiences. I had to work pretty hard to keep her on track. I got better at skillfully stearing her back to the delightful topic of my sore boobies.
She’d timed her visit to coincide with when Joshi’s next feed might be, (which isn’t easy when you’re breastfeeding on demand), and fortunately Joshi was interested enough to feed while she was here. She watched me feeding him in three different feeding positions that I used (lying down, football hold and cradle hold) and noticed that he wasn’t latching on properly, apparently due to the structure of his bottom jaw which goes in a bit. Then she showed me how to work around it. Then she asked me if I was ok to show her my you-know-whats. It’s utterly bizarre – having some stranger over to your place to inspect your boobies. When she took a closer look said she thought I had a mild dose of nipple thrush on the left side. While being told I had nipple thrush (again) wasn’t exactly fabulous news, I was incredibly relieved to get a professional opinion on what might be causing my boobie discomfort, and to know that it was solvable.
Mrs Chatterbox’s Suggestions For Nipple Thrush
Mrs Chatterbox suggested that for 14 days I put daktarin gold on my boobies at nighttime, after one of Joshi’s feeds, wiping it off before his next feed of course. She also suggested I give Joshi oral daktarin three times a day, (just a small pea-sized blob of it), so he doesn’t catch the thrush and pass it back to me. She said it’s really important that I make sure he’s sitting up when he has it so that he doesn’t choke on the stuff … and then she told me about the mamma in Melbourne whose baby suffocated to death from being given too much of it in one go. Pause. Take a deep breath in … and breathe out.
Secondly, she suggested I wash all my bras and towels, dry them in the sun and then start using a separate towel/cloth to dry my boobies.
It doesn’t sound like a big deal now, but at the time it sounded like a whole lot of extra things to do and be aware of for this sleep-deprived mamma. And I was despondent around the thought of taking daktarin. I strongly prefer using natural methods when it comes to our health, but I was desperate to get rid of the thrush, especially since I’d been having thoughts about giving up the whole breastfeeding thing. So I did a lot of research on natural remedies and decided to combine the mainstream approach with the natural. I booked in to see a naturopath and a homeopath … and then a different homeopath and finally I combined their advice and remedies with the daktarin.
What Mrs Super Helpful Gave Me for Nipple Thrush
My naturopath was super helpful. She was great. She mixed me up an herbal cocktail of echinacea, calendula, poke root and horopito and told me to take 4mls of the stuff 5 times a day. She also gave me a bottle of UltraBiotic 45 ( probitotics) and a bottle of BioCeuticals Baby Bioticbaby (probiotics for babies) for Joshi. We had to keep them in the fridge and take them once a day. She also suggested I use Weleda Nipple Care Cream after breastfeeds … or a piece of cabbage and suggested I follow an Anti Candida diet, which she said I google. I was on it for 6 weeks! (the diet, not google).
My new diet meant NO SUGAR (not even honey, agave, or maple syrup, but I could have stevia), NO WHEAT (particularly if it has yeast in it), NO DAIRY (except plain yogurt, ricotta and cottage cheese), no fermented foods, vinegary foods, tinned foods, etc. There were a whole lot of no’s. It also excluded some of the foods that I’d been living on and just love – like bananas. Before I went on this diet, every day at 4pm, when I was absolutely ravenous (as you are when you’re breastfeeding), I’d make myself a smoothy from banana, Cleopatras bath milk (unpasteurized and unhomogenized), cacao power (a great superfood), hemp seeds, pecan nuts and sometimes cashews. But because bananas are so high in sugar they were OUT! Arg! The anti candida diet said I could have them, but the naturopath said they’re so high in sugar that I really shouldn’t. And because she was so super helpful and great I decided to go with what she said.
My new diet was uber healthy. I ate heaps of organic vegetables, a few fruits (mostly apples), nuts, grains, lentils, beans, pulses, etc. And because thrush loves hanging out in tired bodies I also got as much rest as I could (which was not a heck of a lot). Basically if Joshi slept during the day, I’d sleep too. And between feeds (Joshi’s that is), I put organic coconut oil on my nipples. The one I used was anti-fungal, which is great for treating thrush. I also drank fresh organic coconut juice everyday instead of my regular afternoon smoothy.
As far as supplements go, I took a heaped teaspoon of Vitamin C powder in water every day, plus a magnesium and zinc tablet.
And finally (yes, just one more thing), I used two different herbal creams to heal the nipple cracks. One was called Intimate Care (Kolorex) and the other was a cream which my naturopath orders regularly from Germany, called Rosatum Heilsalbe. B0th were good, but the Rosatum was by far the best … and it smells of rose petals.
Did It Work?
Well, not at first. After three days it got worse. I started getting these needle-like stabbing sensations through my boobies. After two weeks the symptoms had mostly disappeared and I was almost entirely pain-free. Put it this way – although I wasn’t fully healed feeding Joshi was no longer a teeth-grinding experience.
I continued with the diet for another 5 weeks. I applied the daktarin to my boobies for a total of 21 days. Although the lactation consultant suggested 14, the symptoms hadn’t fully cleared so I kept going.
And finally, after 6 weeks of doing all of the above I felt so good. And at last I was able to breastfeed Joshi without any discomfort (apart from when he occasionally chomped down and I could feel that sharp little tooth of his piercing through my skin!) Ahhhhhhh. Anyway, gotta dash – time for a feed.
What Else Can You Do To Treat Nipple Thrush Naturally?
PS. This blog is not intended to replace medical advice. It’s just me sharing what helped me and what worked for me may or may not work for you. I hope this helps someone though!