Srinagar, August 01 : On the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week, let us look at how fungal infection can cause problems for lactating women. Fungal infections thrive in warm, moist and dark surroundings. During monsoons, these infections spread very quickly because of increased humidity in the environment.
Breastfeeding women are at more risk from yeast infection during this time and it is essential for them to take extra precautions.
As all other fungal infections, thrush is a yeast infection that thrives in warm, moist and dark environments.
It is caused by the overgrowth of the candida albicans fungus. This fungus is usually present in your body and is harmless since good bacteria keeps it in check. But if there is any imbalance in bacteria and yeast, it can spread. This is when problems start.
Some possible causes are a high level of oestrogen in the body, use of hormonal contraceptives, diabetes, anaemia and damp nipples. Antibiotics can also cause thrush by killing off good bacteria on the skin. On World Breastfeeding Week, let us look at the signs and symptoms of thrush.
SYMPTOMS OF THRUSH
Thrush is a painful condition especially if you are breastfeeding. It is important to get the right treatment at the earliest. Here we tell you what symptoms to look out for in yourself and also your baby. This will help you know when to get proper treatment.
Severe pain in nipples
On the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week , it is important to be aware of all problems that can confront a lactating mother. Thrush can cause severe nipple pain. If you feel pain in both nipples or breasts after feeds and have previously had no pain after feeding, it could be thrush. A burning or itching sensation or even a sharp pain from nipples to the inside of breasts, a pins-and-needles sensation can all indicate this condition.
Redness and inflammation
This condition can cause swelling and redness in nipples and areola. The swelling will be accompanied by pain especially during feeding. It may last for up to an hour after feeding. Your nipples may also look shiny or flaky. Blisters and white patches on the skin around your nipples are common indications.
Rash in baby’s bottom
Your baby might get thrush infection on his bottom also. As this area is always covered, his bottom may look red. It is very similar to a diaper rash.
Irritation in baby’s mouth
Look for white, milky-looking patches on the gums, tongue, inner cheeks, and tonsils of your baby’s mouth. There may be bleeding if you touch these areas. Red skin in mouth and cracked skin in the corners of the mouth are other signs of thrush infection’
TREATMENT AND PRECAUTIONS
This is a stubborn and virulent infection and getting rid of it is not easy. Candida spreads at an alarming rate. Hence, treatment is required on an urgent basis. You must make sure that both you and your baby get the right medical attention. Follow what the doctor recommends. However, you also need to take certain precautions to ensure that this condition doesn’t get worse. On World Breastfeeding Week, we tell you how.
Practice good hygiene
Wash your hands properly. Otherwise the infection may spread to other areas of your body. It can also spread to other members of your family. Wash your hands before and after feeding, using the bathroom and changing your baby’s diaper.
Keep your breasts clean
Keep your breasts and nipples clean and dry especially during the monsoons. After feeding, rinse or wash your nipples with clean water. Let it dry properly. Change your breast pads regularly and wear clean bra.
Wash all toys
Be sure to keep toys clean. It can come in contact with your baby’s mouth. Boil it or clean it with soap and clean water. This includes pacifiers, bottles, bottle nipples, teethers, toys and washable parts of your breast pump if you use one. Do this daily.
Add probiotic and green tea to your diet
Probiotics are good bacteria and can help in this condition. Green tea is good too. It can stimulate the good bacteria on your skin. Be sure to add these to your daily diet. But limit your green tea intake to 2 to 3 cups a day. Too many cups of green tea can leach calcium from your bones.
Say no to sugar
Yeast loves sugar. So, avoid sugary foods and drinks while breastfeeding. This means fruit juices and carbonated drinks too. Also, limit your intake of bakery products. This will help in speedy recovery.
Wear loose clothes
This is to protect you from the pain and discomfort that thrush causes. Tight closes may aggravate the problem and cause abrasions and severe discomfort in the skin around the breasts and nipples. Loose clothes, on the other hand, will make you more comfortable and accelerate the healing process.
WORLD BREASTFEEDING WEEK: IS BREASTFEEDING SAFE IF YOU HAVE THRUSH?
If your doctor has given you a positive verdict for thrush, you might be worried about breastfeeding your baby. In such cases, usually the baby also has the infection. It could also be that your child has passed on the infection to you. Therefore, it is safe to breastfeed your baby if you are able to bear the pain this may cause. Though it is okay to breastfeed your baby even if you have thrush, you must not collect your breast milk to store if you have this infection. This fungus can live on in your stored breast milk. It will delay the recovery process.