Thrush while Breastfeeding - Evidence Based Babie
breast feeding
Thrush in baby

Thrush while Breastfeeding

Understanding and Managing Thrush during Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to nourish your baby and to build a strong bond with them, but it’s not always without challenges. One of the most common issues that breastfeeding mothers may encounter is Thrush, a fungal infection that can affect both you and your baby.

What is Thrush?

Thrush, also known as Candidiasis, is a fungal infection caused by the yeast Candida Albicans. This yeast is normally present in small amounts on the skin, in the mouth and in the digestive tract. But under certain conditions such as a weakened immune system or very warm and moist environments, Candida can multiply and lead to an infection.

Causes of thrush during breastfeeding

Thrush during breastfeeding typically occurs when Candida overgrowth affects the mother’s nipples and the baby’s mouth. The warm and moist environment of the baby’s mouth and the mother’s breasts provide an ideal breeding ground for the yeast to thrive. It’s important to reduce any and all risk factors as best as possible.

Factors that can contribute to the development of Thrush

– Antibiotics

The use of antibiotics in either the mother or the baby can disrupt the balance of microorganisms in your body, including the beneficial bacteria that help keep Candida in check.

– Weakened Immune System

A weakened immune system due to stress, illness or certain medications can make you more prone to develop Thrush.

– Poor Hygiene

Not keeping the nipple area clean and dry can create an environment favorable to yeast growth.

– Pacifier or Bottle Use

Pacifiers and bottle nipples can provide an opportunity for yeast to thrive and be passed back and forth between mother and baby.

– Diabetes

High blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can promote yeast overgrowth.

Symptoms of Thrush

– Nipple pain and soreness, often described as shooting or burning sensations.

– White spots on the mother’s nipples.

– Itchy or flaky nipples.

    – Shiny or red areolas.

    – Baby’s mouth showing white patches on the lips, tongue, gums, or the inside of the cheeks.

    – Bum rash in the baby.

    – Baby being fussy or irritable during nursing.

    Treatment and Prevention

    – Consult a Healthcare Professional

    If you suspect thrush, it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider that’s experienced in lactation. They can accurately diagnose the condition and recommend suitable treatment options for both you and your baby.

    – Antifungal Medications

    Both you and your baby will need antifungal medications such as nystatin or fluconazole to treat thrush. These medications can be applied topically to your nipples and taken orally by your baby. It’s crucial to complete the entire course of treatment to prevent recurrence.

    – Maintain Good Hygiene

    Keep your nipples clean and dry. Change breast pads frequently and wash them with hot water to prevent reinfection.

    – Sterilize Equipment

    If you’re using breast pump parts, bottles, or pacifiers, make sure to sterilize them thoroughly with very hot water after each use to prevent the spread of yeast. You’ll also have to sterilize anything else that comes into contact with either your breasts or your baby’s mouth and bum, such as bras, cloth diapers and towels.

    – Probiotics

    Some research suggests that taking probiotics, either through supplements or certain foods, may help restore the balance of healthy bacteria in your body and potentially reducing the risk of thrush.

    – Adjust Your Diet

    Reducing your intake of sugary foods and refined carbohydrates may help create an environment that’s less favorable to yeast growth.

    – Treating Both Mother and Baby

    It’s very important to treat both you and your baby at the same time to prevent passing the infection back and forth, even if one of you may not be showing any signs of Thrush.

    Important note

    Thrush is a highly over diagnosed infection. Very obvious, or more than 1 symptom should be present when making a diagnosis or when possible, a swab may be taken to confirm Thrush infection. If treatment isn’t working or Thrush is recurrent, a swab must be taken to confirm whether it is Thrush, another infection or something else completely.

    Things like the letdown reflex and Vasospasm are often misdiagnosed as Thrush and therefore it may be a good idea to consult with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) to rule out any other issues and to help with overall breastfeeding education and support.

    Thrush can be an uncomfortable and challenging experience for breastfeeding mothers and their babies, but with prompt diagnosis, evidence-based treatment, and preventative measures, you can effectively manage and overcome this infection and continue your breastfeeding journey with more ease and enjoyment.

    Additional information and resources:

    Thrush in the breastfeeding dyad: results of a survey on diagnosis and treatment

    Relationship Between Personal Hygiene During Breastfeeding And Oral Thrush In Infants 0-6 Months

    It’s Not Yeast: Retrospective Cohort Study of Lactating Women with Persistent Nipple and Breast Pain

    Overdiagnosis and overtreatment of nipple and breast candidiasis: A review of the relationship between diagnoses of mammary candidiasis and Candida albicans in breastfeeding women


    Please take note that all of the information provided on this website is for educational purposes only.

    We take every effort to ensure that we stay up to date with the latest research and that we only provide you with the best possible evidence based information available.

    Online information will never be a substitute for individual support by a qualified healthcare professional.

    Evidence Based Babies is a supporter of the WHO International Code Of Marketing Of Breastmilk Substitutes (WHO code) and the WHO and UNICEF’S Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.

    © 2022 Created with Cyber Drive Technologies