I remember it like it was just yesterday. We had finally gotten the hang of breastfeeding. He was off the nipple shield, his latch was set, the pain had stopped. I felt like a champ. I wanted to hold signs wherever I went pointing it out: look at this, look what I’m doing with my body.
Then came the thrush.
It just started out as general itching for me. I thought nothing of it, nothing at all. Then it turned to searing pain, the kind of itching pain you feel when you’ve scratched a bug bite for too long—except much, much worse.
Misconceptions About Treating Thrush
Through the mom’s group I was a part of I knew that thrush existed, but I assumed it was for dirty people, people who don’t wash bras and only shower once a month. Boy was I wrong.
In my first-time mom panic, I called the my OB. She asked me to check the baby’s mouth, and sure enough it was dotted with white patches—and not just the milky ones from a good feed—genuine stay-put patches. The nurse offered to call me in a prescription of nystatin, to which I gladly agreed, knowing that if I felt like this, my baby probably felt much worse.
Following the nurses instructions, I painted Anthony’s mouth before and after every feeding, dousing my nipples with jock cream after he nursed and scrubbing them raw to get it off so that I wouldn’t poison my first born. After two days there was no change, so I started to do some research.
Natural Thrush Treatment that Works Fast
Thrush is essentially a yeast infection in the mucus membranes, which can affect multiple parts of the body. For us it manifested in white patches in his mouth, a shiny red rash, and itchy, painful nipples. Looking on the back of my nystatin bottle, I recognized one of the key ingredients as sugar. Yeast thrives off sugar. No wonder we hadn’t kicked the thrush yet.
I continued to read and research, looking for natural ways to treat it. I’d heard about genetian violet, but there were a few mixed reviews and links to cancer that left me unnerved. Plus, I didn’t want everything in my life to be purple.
I found a few articles on success with grapefruit seed extract, and paired with anecdotal success from a few women in my mom’s group I decided to try it. It was, after all, just an extract straight from grapefruit. If it failed, there was no harm done.
Oh. My. Goodness. Just ten drops of GSE in an ounce of water. That’s all it took. I soaked Q-tips in the solution and painted his mouth before feedings, and my nipples after. Within two hours the pain had subsided. Within one day, the thrush was completely gone. I kept up the routine for a day or two after the thrush had cleared, just in case, but it was gone, and it hasn’t been back since.
Ultimately, breastfeeding is hard. There are a lot of challenges you can face. Thrush shouldn’t be something that makes or breaks that relationship, that destroys the joy of bonding, the pride in knowing that you are sustaining a life with your body, the love you will undoubtedly share with your child. Trust your gut, do your research, and you will undoubtedly find solutions for you and your family that will be the best for all parties involved.
When Megan Eccles isn’t blogging at Megan Eccles, she can be found on a ranch in the foothills of Southern California, trying to keep up with the many ups and downs of life. Between striving towards self sufficiency, learning how to be a mother, and writing, and writing, and writing, she can be found on the left most corner of her couch with a cup of tea and a good book. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter!