Oral thrush – what you need to know 

Don’t judge me, but I always though thrush is what only women got down there, I didn’t know there were various types of it and babies can get it in their mouths from breastfeeding. This horrible fungal infection is harmless and treatable with antibiotics but uncomfortable for both baby and adult when in contact with each other. I noticed a few days before I decided against breastfeeding that she had a coating of what appeared to be milk in her mouth and on her lips. Whilst trying to figure out what it was I spoke to friends who experienced the same thing with their kids who suggested I go to the doctors. I tried scraping it off to no avail but got the appointment, had her checked over and she was given antibiotics and in a space of a few days, the cottage cheese like build up has drastically go down. 

If you’re unsure if you have thrush ask your midwife, health visitor or call NHS 111. You may be asked for a swab from your baby’s mouth and sent off to the lab- this can take up to a week for the results to come back. 

How does it occur? 

It’s a yeast fungus called Candida albicans. Our little ones have such weak immune systems their tiny bodies are unable to resist infection especially babies who are born prematurely. According to the NHS Choices website … “with antibiotics they reduce the levels of healthy bacteria in your baby’s mouth, which can allow fungus levels to increase.
If you’re breastfeeding and have been taking antibiotics for an infection, your own levels of healthy bacteria in your body can be affected. This can also make you prone to a thrush infection that may then be passed to your baby during breastfeeding.” 

Emily was given nystatin to be taken once, four times a day for a week but some babies can be given miconazole and genuinely are advised to be taken after a feed. 

The NHS website says…. 

In most cases, miconazole will be the first treatment recommended by a GP. 
It’s available as a gel that you apply to the affected areas using a clean finger. It’s important only to apply a little at a time and to try to avoid the back of your baby’s mouth to reduce the risk of choking.

A small number of babies are sick after being treated with miconazole, but this side effect usually passes and isn’t normally any cause for concern.

In some cases, your GP or health visitor may recommend an alternative medication called nystatin. 
This comes as a liquid medicine (suspension) that’s applied directly to the affected area using a dropper (oral dispenser) supplied with the medicine. 

Nystatin doesn’t usually cause any side effects and most babies have no trouble taking the medication.

Advice for breastfeeding mothers

If your baby has oral thrush and you’re breastfeeding, it’s possible for your baby to pass a thrush infection to you. This can affect your nipples or breasts and cause nipple thrush.

Symptoms of nipple thrush can include:

  • pain while you’re feeding your baby, which may continue after the feed is finished 
  • cracked, flaky or sensitive nipples and areolas (the darker area around your nipple) 
  • changes in the colour of your nipples or areolas 

If you have nipple thrush, or there’s a risk of your baby passing thrush on to you, you’ll normally be advised to continue breastfeeding while using an antifungal cream such as miconazole to treat the infection. 

You should apply the cream to your nipples after every feed, and remove any that’s left before the next feed.

In severe cases of nipple thrush, antifungal tablets may be recommended.” 

I’d feel you think you and/or your baby has thrush, contact your doctor today or call 111 now. 

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