Lactating mothers often complain of pain in the nipples, even after a period of nursing without pain. Sometime the cause is improper positioning, bad posture, or inadequate latch-on. If these reasons are ruled out, thrush could be the possible cause behind the pain.
Thrush is a yeast infection caused by excessive Candida albicans, which is normally present in small quantities in the intestines, vagina, and mucous membranes. Babies born while the mother is suffering from vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina) are more susceptible to contacting thrush from their mothers. The physiological state of pregnancy is such that vaginitis is common. Pregnant women who show signs of a vaginal yeast infection should address the problem with adequate Candida treatment and diet well before the full term is completed.
A yeast infection is transmitted through the birth canal, the passage in the uterus and vagina through which a fetus travels through during vaginalbirth. It can also be transmitted during breast feeding, especially when the nipples are cracked. If the baby is born before the full term of pregnancy or with a low body weight, thrush can be life-threatening. Candida infections, including thrush, can be equally dangerous in adults with low immunity.
The mother is normally presented with symptoms like itchy, flaky, or burning nipples, and pain during and after feeding. Although thrush is usually suspected, yeast infection in the nipples can occur due to a combination of other causes.
In specific cases, the pain may radiate to the mother’s armpit or back. The baby, on the other hand, may suddenly become fussy and refuse breast feeding, or develop symptoms of gas and colic. The baby may or may not show white patches on the tongue, which are normal signs of thrush in adults.
Thrush is, however, an easily treatable condition and should not be a reason for discontinuing breast feeding. Gentian violet is the preferred mode of treating thrush, as it is safe and there is no risk involved. A small quantity, about 10 mL, is enough as yeast infection treatment. Dip a sterilized ear swab in the gentian violet and put it in the baby’s mouth to suck for a few seconds. Gentian violet usually spreads in the mouth on its own, but if it does not, paint the inside of the baby’s mouth as much as you can. Breastfeeding after applying gentian violet normally takes care of treating the nipples as well. Some mothers prefer to apply gentian violet at bedtime so as to prevent staining their clothes, as it can be extremely messy.
Gentian violent has a long history of providing a Candida cure during breastfeeding and can even be applied on the lips of premature infants. It is an effective mode of alternative treatment and provides safety from anti-fungal drugs, which should be used very sparingly on lactating mothers and newborns. However, a word of caution is necessary, as large quantities of gentian violet may cause ulcerations in the baby’s mouth and throat. In case of recurrence, the treatment can be repeated, albeit ensuring that you use only small quantities at a time.