As you guys probably know, I had issues establishing breastfeeding with my son (if you don’t, read my post on breastfeeding after an early c-section).
Fast forward a few weeks of a gruelling feed/pump routine, of course resulted in an oversupply. I was soaking through breast pads at a ridiculous rate! I probably didn’t change them as regularly as I should have either, in the middle of summer, so you can probably guess what happened… I got thrush.
I started having this terrible pain in my right side every time he fed, or I had a letdown, like someone was slicing the inside of my breast with a burning hot knife. It would start at my shoulder and work its way down to the nipple, but only as long as he was feeding. I kept trying to feed from both sides, but after a few feeds I just couldn’t anymore, so that side started to be engorged.
I scoured the internet, and diagnosed myself with thrush. I tried Daktarin gel, as this is what I had seen in the breastfeeding groups. I washed my clothes, sheets, bras like crazy, was changing my breast pads 1500 times a day, but nothing helped. The Daktarin gel just made my baby vomit, so I stopped that.
After a few days in excrutiating pain, I finally found help in the form of a GP who was also an IBCLC. I made an appointment and was there the next day (she was an hour away, and with a newborn who hated the car, that was NOT a fun drive). She checked how we were feeding, checked both of us, and told me that it was definitely thrush. She then said that the things I was trying were only bandaid fixes, but that it would never fully get rid of the fungus, because it is stubborn and persistent!
She told me to use fluconazole tablets, Nystatin and probiotics. But again, medication alone would not get rid of the thrush. An overgrowth of candida – which causes thrush – is caused by an imbalance of your body’s microbiome, which in my case, was because of the antibiotics I took after my surgery. The warm and damp environment of a breast pad on the skin created the perfect environment for the fungus to just explode. Candida feeds on a lot of things, but especially sugar. Unless you stop feeding it, it will continue to thrive.
So, enter the candida diet. After pregnancy, the last thing I wanted to hear was that I needed to cut a whole bunch of food out of my diet again, but she assured me that as long as I was feeding the fungus, the pain would never go away. You can google the diet, but basically, no sugar, carbs, dairy or processed meats. Check out The Candida Diet for Foods to Eat, and Foods to Avoid.
It took 2 refills of my prescriptions and 3 long weeks back to strict dietary restrictions and feeding through the pain, but I finally rid myself of the thrush, and it never came back. I kept taking the probiotics for quite some time after the thrush went away. I'm not sure if it was the reason it kept it away, but it couldn't hurt!
After this I had a pretty breezy breastfeeding journey, but it was definitely a very rough start!
Breastfeeding can be such a tough thing to initiate for first time mums (and even experienced mothers with their subsequent babies). It's so important that mums be supported to learn how to feed - or even to let go of breastfeeding, and that they know where they can go for support.
What helped you when you were learning to breastfeed? What struggles did you have? Drop your comments below so you can maybe help another struggling mama <3