Yeast Infection In Lactating Mommies - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Care
Created by Janaki Srinivasan Updated on Apr 07, 2021
Sometimes during breastfeeding, many moms experience a sharp stinging or burning pain in the nipples and even inside the breast. Often first time mothers tend to ignore thinking it might be a regular pain that most moms experience. This is the first sign of a yeast infection called Thrush that is an overgrowth of Candida Albincans, a fungus. Moms could develop yeast infection in the vagina, nipples, mouth and children in the mouth and in the diaper area. Always present in the body, the fungus (Candida Albincans) multiplies especially when you are ill or pregnant and when you are on antibiotics. If you get this infection during the later stages of pregnancy, you pass it on to the baby during delivery. Also, when the baby feeds, it is passed on through the nipple. Don’t worry; yeast infections are common and treatable.
Causes of Yeast Infections in Lactating Mothers:
Some of the possible causes of developing yeast infection include:
- High level of Estrogen produced in the body during pregnancy
- Use of hormonal contraceptives/steroids
- Chronic illness such as diabetes or anemia
- If you have recently been on antibiotics
- If you developed yeast infection in the later stages of pregnancy
- Cracked, moist or wet nipples
Symptoms of Yeast Infection in Lactating Mothers:
Having known the causes, it is necessary to understand how to detect it. Early detection can reduce a lot of discomfort for you and your baby.
- Severe stinging or burning pain on the surface and deep inside the breasts as well. Some mothers experience a sharp, shooting pain from the nipple to the breast or into the back or arm
- Pain remains during and after feeding and in between feeds
- Many women narrate how it is painful to wear clothes (it hurts when they brush against the nipple), or take a hot shower
- Itchy, scaly, puffy nipples with blisters on it sometimes
- Sometimes the nipples don’t look as terrible as the pain is, which is why physical examination alone is not enough
- Milk supply decreases if your baby has contracted the infection from you. This is because they don’t nurse as much as normal children. This reduces the supply
- Yeast infections also cause plugged ducts (a condition where milk ducts don’t drain well and get inflamed, hard and tender)
- Mothers also develop yeast infections in the vagina, corners of the mouth, toes/fingernails (swelling or tenderness), arms or groin
Yeast grows in warm and moist areas so it often keeps going back and forth between the mother and the baby. Hence both have to be treated together to clear up the infection, even if only one of them is affected.
Treatment and Care:
- The first and the most important thing to do is to wash hands as often as possible—Before and after nursing, after using the restroom, after changing the baby’s diaper
- Start nursing on the side that hurts less. Meanwhile, numb the other side with ice wrapped in cloth before you start feeding. If pain is unbearable try to extract and feed
- Green tea is believed to be effective to cleanse your body of excess yeast. 2-3 times a day of green tea can prove very effective. Yoghurt might also be helpful but in itself doesn’t help solve the problem
- Every time after nursing, rinse the nipple with 1 cup of cup of water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Dry the area. Your doctor may prescribe antifungal cream. Use them as directed
- Avoid using nursing pads. If you have to, change them after every feed. Keep the nipple area dry
- Avoid foods high on sugar/yeast (breads, sweets, wine, and soda)
- Try including dietary supplements that include Lactobacillus Acidophilus, which promote the growth of good bacteria. Consult your doctor to know more about the products and dosage
- Consult your doctor for an antifungal cream to apply in the vaginal area
- Rinse the vaginal area with vinegar and water solution every time after using the washroom
- Expose the affected area to air as much as possible and keep it dry always
- Wear cotton panties and avoid tight clothes
Pregnancy and lactation are exciting periods in a woman’s life, especially for first time moms. However, if we don’t take enough care and precaution, it can become quite tedious. Hygiene is very vital during this phase as infections are common and get passed on to the baby as well. Don’t panic. What is needed at this hour is awareness and alertness to address whatever issues crop up. Always remember to consult your doctor before you go for self-medication. Stay safe and enjoy your pregnancy and the lactation phase that follows it.
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