Thrush: Naturally Treat and Preventby Elizabeth MacDonald
What is Thrush?
Thrush is an all-too common fungal infection that seems to occur in the worst possible moments of a new mom’s breastfeeding journey. It is seen in the baby’s mouth and on the breast of Mom. It is caused by an overgrowth of the Candida fungus (yeast), which is naturally present in our bodies. When the balance of bacteria and yeast in the mouth is disrupted, the Candida fungus can multiply and cause an infection.
Causes of Thrush
There are several factors that can contribute to the development of thrush while breastfeeding:
- Poor hygiene: Not cleaning the nipples and breast properly can create an environment for the fungus to thrive.
- Use of antibiotics: Antibiotics can kill the beneficial bacteria in the body, allowing the fungus to overgrow.
- Weakened immune system: A weakened immune system can make it easier for the fungus to cause an infection.
- Cracked or damaged nipples: Cracks or damage to the nipples can provide an entry point for the fungus.
Natural Ways to Prevent Thrush
Even if you take every precaution, thrush can still happen to you. However, it is less likely to occur if you practice the following:
- Practice proper breastfeeding techniques: Ensure a proper latch and positioning to prevent nipple damage. (This is the biggest culprit of causing thrush! Call in a lactation consultant if you are in doubt of your latch.)
- Maintain good hygiene: Clean your nipples and breast with warm water and mild soap every day. and wipe them before nursing if you are sweaty.
- Avoid using harsh soaps or lotions: These can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria and yeast in the body. (Avoid dyes and scents)
- Wear breathable clothing: Choose cotton bras and tops that allow air circulation to prevent moisture buildup.
- Limit sugar intake: High sugar levels in the body can promote the growth of fungus.
Natural Ways to Heal Thrush
If thrush occurs, you will understandably feel frustration, pain, and anxiety. Don’t stress immediately, though, there are natural remedies that can help in the healing process:
- Gentle cleaning: Clean the affected area with a solution of warm water and salt helps reduce inflammation.
- Probiotics: Increase your intake of probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut to restore the balance of bacteria in your body, and purchase a high-quality, temperature-controlled probiotic supplement.
- Grapefruit seed extract: Dilute a few drops of grapefruit seed extract in water and apply it to the affected area to help fight the fungus.
- Garlic: Garlic has antifungal properties. Apply a crushed garlic paste to the affected area for relief.
- Tea tree oil: Dilute a few drops of tea tree oil in water and apply it to the affected area. Tea tree oil has antifungal properties.
- Gentian Violet: A few drops of this purple dye is used to treat oral thrush in your baby’s mouth. If white patches/spots are present, your baby has yeast/thrush and needs treated so you do not continue to pass the fungus back and forth. (Just a head's up, your baby will look like he ate a smurf!)
Remember, it is important to consult with your midwife or doctor if you think you have thrush. They can support you and aid in your healing.