Tips for Yeast


(continued from last month)
Your nipples are red and shiny; you have itchy or stinging pain when nursing and in between feedings. Sometimes the pain seems to shoot back into your breast. Baby’s not been eating well or has a diaper rash that doesn’t respond to your usual treatments. 
What to do if you think you have yeast:
  • See your doctors...I say doctors plural because candida is something you share with your baby. If you are not both treated, you will pass the problem back and forth. Even if the baby is not symptomatic yet, suspected yeast needs to be treated. Doctors will usually prescribe antifungals: drops for the baby and pills or cream for you. Use as directed. It may take a few days to get relief, or even a few weeks and a change in medication.
  • Consider also Dr. Jack Newman’s all purpose nipple ointment (APNO). It can be prepared at a compounding pharmacy with a prescription. APNO information can be found here
  • Make a vinegar solution in the ratio of 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar to 1 cup water. Apply with cotton ball as a rinse after each feed. Pat or let air dry and then apply any other treatment as prescribed.
  • Gentian violet is an old remedy with definite pros and cons. In its favor, it is cheap and does not require a prescription. Its down side is that it stains everything it touches a deep purple: nipple, bra pads, baby’s mouth, etc. It can be used in combination with other treatments and may give relief within hours of treatment. Recent information suggests a .5% solution as the best balance of safety and effectiveness.
  • If you have vaginal yeast, be sure you treat it at the same time.
Because yeast and good bacteria are a normal part of you body, you want to build and support your body’s normal balance at the same time you are treating the symptoms of a yeast overgrowth. 
  • Reduce the amount of sugar you eat, especially sweet desserts and drinks. 
  • Fruit and bread products are best eaten with other foods: vegetables and meats.
  • Acidophilus will help rebuild the good bacteria in your system. Pat Gima, IBCLC and yeast guru recommends 6 capsules of acidophilus spread over the course of the day. Acidophilus is found in health food stores, usually refrigerated. In addition, Pat suggests 3 times a day touching your wet finger to the powder from an opened capsule and letting your baby suck on your finger.
  • Echinacea and garlic are other supplements which can help build your system’s defenses.
For the baby’s diaper area: 
  • Avoid baby wipes and antibacterial soaps. Instead use clear water and a wash cloth to clean the diaper area. 
  • After cleaning do a vinegar rinse (like on your nipples). When it dries, apply the antifungal cream to the baby’s bottom.
Yeast is a family issue
You can pass yeast back and forth between you and baby, you and your husband/partner...and the circle goes round. It is the same as vaginal yeast, athlete’s foot and jock itch.
  • Yeast will not grow in frozen breastmilk, nor is it killed by freezing. If you later use milk pumped while you have the yeast overgrowth, you run the risk of reintroducing yeast back into your baby’s system and then back into yours.
  • Once a day, wash and then boil for 5 minutes your pump parts, baby’s nipples, pacifiers, cups, teethers...anything that goes against your skin or into your baby’s mouth.
  • Use disposable bra pads and discard after each feeding.
  • Use 1/4-1/2 cup white distilled vinegar in your wash instead of fabric softener or in the final rinse. Line dry in the sun.
  • Continue all these tips and your treatments for at least 2 weeks after your symptoms seem to have resolved. Yeast/thrush has a tricky way of laying low for a while and then flaring up again.
Newman, J., “Candida Protocol”,  International Breastfeeding Centre
Riordan, J. and Auerbach, K.G., Breastfeeding and Human Lactation, Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 1999.