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Coping With Thrush When You’re Breastfeeding


close up of baby's hand touching blanket


If you have red, itching, persistently sore nipples; burning or shooting pain in your breast during and after feeding; or cracked nipples that don’t heal, you may have thrush (a yeast infection).  

See your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Thrush can affect both you and your baby, or just one of you. A baby with thrush may refuse to breastfeed, repeatedly pull off the breast during feedings, be gassy and cranky, and have slow weight gain. Babies can experience thrush in the mouth (white patchy areas that look like milk but won’t rub off) or in the diaper area (red rash).

If you have thrush: (reformatted)

  • Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap.
  • Wash frequently all objects that come in contact with your nipples and your infant’s mouth.
  • Wash bras daily and avoid using breast pads if possible.
  • Keep you nipples dry.
  • If you’re using a breast pump, boil the parts every day.
  • Both you and your baby may need to be treated. See your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Antifungal creams are used to help clear up thrush in babies while mothers can use non-prescription medications.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider for additional advice about dietary restrictions. It may help to avoid cheese, bread, wheat products, sugar and honey during your treatment period.
  • Your partner should also be treated.

Soothers can carry thrush back into your baby’s mouth. Avoid soothers, replace them frequently or boil for five to 10 minutes each day.
It’s also important to note that nipple damage from a poor latch is sometimes mistaken for thrush. Most mothers with a yeast infection say that, while their nipples hurt more when the baby is feeding, they still hurt all the time. If it doesn’t hurt when you express or pump, then you probably don’t have a yeast infection.

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Last Updated: August 4, 2013