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Breastfeeding with oral thrush

Oral thrush or Candida Albicans is one of the most painful breast feeding conditions. It is caused by a fungal infection and almost always occurs simultaneously in both breasts.

Signs and Symptoms for the mother:
Itching and burning of the skin over the nipples.
Shooting/stabbing pain in the breast.
Severe pain when baby latches.
Colour change of the skin of the nipple and areola becoming pink/red after feeds.
Nipples very sensitive to the cold.
Water from shower causing unbearable pain.
Cracked nipples that won’t heal.
Nipples that blanch during feeds.

Signs and symptoms for the baby:
Baby more windy and fretful and difficult to settle after feeds.
Baby fidgety during feeds, pulling off and seems uncomfortable.
White patches that look like milk curds on inside of cheeks, on gums and lips… these cannot be wiped off.
Baby may have a nappy rash/red spots.


It is important to treat mother and baby, even if baby shows no symptoms.
An antifungal oral treatment (for example Daktarin Oral Gel) may be used on the mothers nipples and in baby’s mouth and on baby’s bottom, three times a day for at least 7 days.
It is suggested that both mum and baby take a course of Probiotics for 6-12 weeks.
Heat sterilize all dummies, teats and bottles that baby may be using, by boiling for 5-10 minutes daily.
Avoid re dipping the dummy into any medication.

What else to know:
Once treatment begins the pain should ease within 2-3 days.
Short breast feeds are less painful.
Be diligent whilst using the treatment.
Change breast pads after each feed.
Hot wash any clothing that comes into contact with the breasts.
If thrush re-occurs, discard dummies and teats and replace with new ones.

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