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Friday, January 11, 2013

7 (or 8 or 9) Quick Takes - Thrush

I am a breast feeding advocate. I believe all moms should try their best to nurse their babies. I have become a bit arrogant and smug about the superiority of breast milk.  I have patted myself on the back for nursing all 7 of my babies and never once having to crack open a can of formula.  Then, God decided to teach me a lesson in humility.  It's called thrush.

The past 2 months, I have been having difficulty nursing Peter. Through an ear infection and teething, he was less than cooperative about nursing and completely emptying each breast at feedings.  I had a plugged duct and worked that out with heat compress, massage and pumping.  No big deal, I've done this before.  I was on the lookout for mastitis. The discomfort continued.  My nipple burned and hurt most of the time.  Then there was the shooting pain through my breast that would take my breath away. I consider myself to be fairly tough with a high pain tolerance.  I don't whine (excessively anyhow!) and pretty much roll with the punches of motherhood.  But this was too much for me to handle on my own.  I consulted friends, the internet, lactation nurses, and eventually my ObGyn for the diagnosis of thrush.

Here are the 8 things I've tried to remedy thrush and what I think of each.

(1) Heat Compress
This does absolutely nothing for me.  But I continue to do it, because at least I feel like I'm trying to do something to make the situation better.

(2) Ibuprofen
This has had zero effect on my pain level.  I will, however, take a mega dose to try and get some sleep at night.

(3) Grapefruit Seed Extract
Basically, this is a natural antibiotic. Perhaps I didn't stick this out long enough, but it didn't do anything for me either.  But, it is natural and has very minimal side effects.

(4) Consultation with Lactation Nurse
This was perhaps the most helpful.  She knew what I was talking about and could describe my symptoms for me.  How does that saying go, "Misery loves company."  It was nice to know that other moms had went through this and made it through alright.

(5) Breast exam and ultrasound
My ObGyn didn't like the way that my breast tissue felt upon exam and wanted to rule out any type of abscess.  It was comforting to know that all the breast tissue is normal, although I don't know if this was necessary.

(6) Diflucan
My ObGyn started me on a 10 day course of Diflucan.  I am only on day 2.  I am hopeful this will take care of the yeast problem so that I can make it through a day without wincing in pain and grabbing my breast...it just isn't socially acceptable, you know!

We called all over town to find this stuff.  We're heading out of town on Sunday and I didn't have time to order it and have it delivered to the house.  Finally, we found a WalMart that had it in stock about 40 minutes away.  My lovely husband (man, I love that guy!) hopped in the car and picked it up for me.  The purpose of this is to kill any yeast that is on my breast.  Also, when Peter nurses it gets in his mouth to kill any yeast that might be hiding out in his mouth. It is a purple die.  I have purple nipples and a baby with a purple mouth.  I don't care.  I just want to feel better.

(8) Probiotics/Yogurt/Reduce Sugar in Diet
I think it is hard to measure this one.  The idea here is to get the good bacteria growing and reduce intake of anything that the yeast can eat/grow in (sugar).  I'm taking a probiotic and eating at least one yogurt a day.

(9) Frequent Nursing
Even the thought of nursing makes me wince.  However, I have been advised to continue nursing at the same level or even more frequently.  The most difficult thing is to appear relaxed during nursing so that Peter will relax and nurse comfortably.

I understand now that sometimes breastfeeding can be so painful and difficult that moms just don't/can't/won't do it.  I have the perspective of 12 years and 7 babies to know that I'll get through this, but a new mom wouldn't have that. Now, through the grace of God, I have the humility to understand that I'm not in this mothering thing alone.  I have spent a number of sleepless nights asking God for the ability to suffer well and offering it up for those on my prayer list.  Most importantly, I get it.  Just because something works for me doesn't mean that it works or is best for everyone else.

I am still a breast feeding advocate.  I still think all moms should try their best to nurse their babies.  But, I understand that it just doesn't work for everyone...and it's not up to me to judge that.

Take a peek at other Quick Takes here.

UPDATE - I ended up doing a ten day course of Diflucan followed by a ten day course of antibiotics, neither of which seemed to have any effect.  I continued to tough it out for another 6 weeks, and then decided to ween him off of that "bad" side.  He is now almost 16 months old and I am only nursing him on one side before he goes to bed for the night. I have absolutely no residual issues with any sort of pain or discomfort.  The lactation nurse said that once the milk dried up and there was no more sugar for the yeast to eat, the pain would subside.  She was right!  Let's hope that she was also correct in saying that it won't "linger" for any future milk that may come with any other babies/nursing experiences.

God Bless!

Heather :-)