How to Treat Thrush Infections

Thrush infections can make breastfeeding challenging. Learn more about what they are and how to treat them.

Thrush is a common yeast infection that occurs in many breastfed babies and their mothers. Yeast occurs naturally in everyone’s bodies, but if it grows too rapidly, an infection can develop and make breastfeeding more challenging. By following a simple treatment, as recommended by your doctor or healthcare provider, mom and baby can return to normal breastfeeding very quickly.

What causes thrush?

Thrush is caused by an imbalance of yeast in a baby’s mouth. A strong immune system and a healthy amount of “good” bacteria is typically enough to maintain a normal level of yeast, but if your baby is ill or on antibiotics, a thrush infection may develop. Also, if you had a yeast infection during pregnancy or childbirth, or if you received antibiotics after your delivery, your baby may be more prone to a thrush infection while breastfeeding.

​​​​​​​What are the symptoms of thrush?

If your baby has a thrush infection, you may notice white patches in your baby’s mouth. Some babies experience little or no discomfort, while others’ mouths become inflamed and painful. You may notice your baby is fussy or less interested during breastfeeding because of the irritation. It’s also possible for your baby to pass thrush on to your nipples, and vice versa. If you notice irritation, redness, or shooting pain in your nipples, you may have a thrush infection too.

How can I treat thrush?

If you suspect thrush, reach out to your doctor or healthcare provider for treatment options. He or she may prescribe a topical anti-fungal treatment or an oral medication for both you and your baby, as it is easy for mothers and babies to pass thrush to one another. When you’re not breastfeeding, try to keep your nipples clean and dry. If you’re pumping, thoroughly clean and dry all pump parts that come in contact with breast milk. If you or your baby aren’t feeling better after 10 days, your doctor or healthcare provider may recommend an additional treatment plan.


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