Triumphant Tuesday: Breastfeeding Through Chronic Thrush


The pain of thrush can rival that of labor. Burning sensations that radiate through the breast are accompanied by deep stabbing and shooting pains. What’s more, the outward appearance of thrush varies widely, making diagnosis a problem. Some women have red or shiny nipples, fissures or flaking skin, others exhibit no visible signs at all. And diagnosis is only the start. Thrush is remarkably persistent and knowledge of the best treatments to cure breastfeeding-related thrush is sorely insufficient, as this week’s triumphant mom found out.

“I gave birth to my daughter Olivia at home. I really wanted to let her find the breast herself but I remember almost feeling like I needed permission from the midwives. When they finally told me it was time to try and nurse I chickened out of the natural ‘breast crawl’ approach. Instead, they had me sit up in bed and told me to use the cross hold.

Nipple Damage

Olivia latched incorrectly immediately and I started to cry. I kept her on my breast and the midwives told me a bit of pain is normal but it should stop right away. Well, it didn’t. After a few more minutes I took her off and the damage was done.

Baby Weight Issues

The next day, I had a lactation consultant come to ‘help’ me.  She weighed Olivia and freaked out, telling me that she’d lost 13% of her weight and she should have only lost 7-10%. She then told me told me the insane amount of breastmilk I needed to feed Olivia: 50 ml at each feed, and in 2 days from then 75ml at each feed. I was totally shocked by this amount. It didn’t make sense. She told me if Olivia wasn’t gaining weight in the next few days I would need to supplement with formula. I told her that wasn’t an option, thanked her for helping me with my latch and asked her to leave. My husband was downstairs when this happened. When he came upstairs I was bawling. He didn’t believe those numbers either, so of course on the computer we went, only to see how wrong she was!

My midwife popped in that afternoon and was mad that this woman even weighed the baby. She reinforced the reason why they wait a full week before they re-weigh and that Olivia had great color (zero jaundice from birth) very alert for a newborn, no soft spot on the head and a wet mouth so she was in fact eating. I sent my fiance to get me a pump so I could try to pump and heal my nipple.


When Olivia was 2 weeks old she developed a rash on her bumwhich turned out to be thrush. It had infected my breast was extremely painful. There was shooting pains from my breasts right up to my shoulder, even when I wasn’t feeding. During the feeds my nipples felt like they were being cut with glass. We tried monistat, an antifungal treatment, on her bum which didn’t work. I did a week of gentian violet along with it which also didn’t work.

Friends’ Sabotage

I hadn’t left the house in 2 weeks because my daughter’s mouth was stained violet and I kept her naked up to 5 hours a day to air out. I felt like the worst mother in the world; like I’d failed from the beginning. Friends told me to just give formula. I wasn’t talking to them for a way out of breastfeeding, I was just trying to vent my frustration. Sharing these experiences with other moms is supposed to be helpful. I wasn’t trying to make anyone feel bad about their choice but I just don’t agree with formula for my family.

Finally, a Cure

I finally found a doctor in Toronto – Jack Newman and followed his flucozanole treatment. It ended up taking me being on this drug for 37 days, continuing on a strict yeast free diet, probiotics, gentian violet and lots of air time before it went away. When Olivia turned 4 months old it was finally gone.

Fighting this for 3.5 months was exhausting and truly tested my confidence as a new motherand my commitment to breastfeed. To this day I cannot feed in that damn cross hold. I can only nurse lying down.

I believe that unless you’re a drug user or have a lifestyle that could harm your baby every woman should breastfeed. I don’t understand moms that stop because it was too much work to nurse every 2 hours. The thought of having to get out of bed and make a bottle instead of putting my baby to my boob seems like more work.”

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