What is thrush and how should it be treated?

Wendy Haldeman, Lactation Specialist, explains the symptoms and treatments of thrush.
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What is thrush and how should it be treated?

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Thrush is a fungal infection that babies get in their mouths. It's often contracted if the mom happens to have a vaginal yeast infection at birth, and the baby has a vaginal birth. As they come down through the birth canal, sometimes they will get the yeast in their mouth and it will grow. At about two to three weeks, the baby will have these white plackets inside their cheeks, inside their lips, often a thick, white coating on their tongue. That can be transferred to the mom's nipple. That makes mom's nipples really painful. They tend to have an itchy, burning feeling. The skin gets really thin and it breaks and it cracks, right around where the nipple joins the areola. It's a pretty nasty situation. Both mom and baby have to be treated. It's really important. If you treat only one, the other will keep reinfecting the other. There are a lot of ways to treat it. A lot of people prefer topical treatments first. The baby is usually treated with a liquid anti-fungal, called Nystatin, and you take a q-tip and you put it on the white areas in the mouth. Then moms nipples are treated with an anti-fungal cream. Other people use either baking soda in water or vinegar in water to rinse the nipples because when you change the PH on the skin, you help to kill the yeast. Probiotics can be really helpful because probiotics eat yeast. Then some physicians decide to treat with a drug called Diflucan. It can work. The concern for some people is that with Diflucan, it can be hard on the liver; which is why some people prefer to try the topical first to see if they can get rid of it that way.

Wendy Haldeman, Lactation Specialist, explains the symptoms and treatments of thrush.

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Wendy Haldeman, RN, MN, IBCLC

Lactation Specialist

Wendy Haldeman, MN, RN, IBCLC is a co-founder of the Pump Station and Nurtury. She received both her nursing and lactation education at UCLA, is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), and a certified Happiest Baby on the Block instructor. She lectures frequently on human lactation at medical and nursing schools and has been identified by publications, such as Fit Pregnancy, as an expert in her field. Wendy facilitates the New Mother Support groups, and teaches the prenatal Breastfeeding and Baby Care Classes at The Pump Station. She and her husband Tim are proud of their two grown daughters and their 15 month old granddaughter.

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