One of the many things that pregnant women are not prepared for is breast and nipple pain. This is just one of those things that come with being a new mother and it is normally caused by the hormones acting up, your nipples being sore and having to feed your baby constantly. But if your nipples are dry, cracking up and hurting a lot, then it could mean something else.
The first thing you can do is do a thorough examination of your baby’s mouth. If they have a yeast infection (oral thrush) then their tongue may be coated with a white layer. To be sure of this, clean their mouth properly before you take a look. If it still looks white, it could be oral thrush. They may even have white spots on the inside of their mouth (inner lips and cheeks) and a rash in the diaper area.
The next thing you can do is to look out for signs on your own body. If your nipples are itchy, hurt while breastfeeding and appear flaky and cracked, then you may have a yeast infection. Do note that the severity of the pain may differ depending on the severity of the infection. You may either only feel a mild discomfort or an unbearable pain that leaves your nipples sore to the touch. The only way to be sure is by checking your baby’s mouth.
Causes of thrush
Thrush occurs due to the Candida fungus which affects babies and old people alike. It is found on the skin and mucous membranes and affects those with a weaker immune system. With a normal functioning immune system, the growth of this fungus is limited and controlled.
A baby can be exposed to a yeast infection at the time of birth if the mother had a vaginal yeast infection at that time. A common cause of yeast infections is taking antibiotics which can meddle with the natural balance of microorganisms in the body. So, taking antibiotics during pregnancy or while breastfeeding can all cause oral thrush in babies and consequently, a yeast infection on your nipples.
If the infection is left untreated, it can keep passing the infection between you and your baby over and over again. So, it is better to seek medical attention if you find that either you or your baby have a yeast infection.
The doctor may prescribe a cream, a pill or a liquid. You might be asked to apply an antifungal medicine to your nipples and breasts. You may also be given a medication for the pain.
Apart from this, you should wash your clothes regularly with warm water and soap. You may also use disposable nursing pads every day so that your nipples don’t have direct contact with your clothes.
As for your baby, make sure to clean their pacifiers and feeding bottles every day in boiling water. They should be replaced every week. Their teething toys can be washed with soap and warm water. This along with applying the prescribed medication as per doctor’s advice should help clear up the mouth thrush.