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How to know if you've got breastfeeding thrush

Breast and nipple pain during breastfeeding is sometimes cause by thrush, which is a yeast infection of the nipples. Breastfed babies can also develop thrush in their mouths.

The symptoms to look out for are:

  • Shooting pains
  • Pain that lasts for up to an hour after ever feed
  • Pain that affects both nipples
  • Itchy nipples
  • Burning nipples
  • Red, shiny, flaky nipples

The symptoms of oral thrush to look out for in baby’s mouth are:

  • White film on the lips
  • Unsettled baby during breastfeeding
  • White spots on the tongue, gums, roof of the mouth, or insides of the cheeks

You’re particularly likely to have thrush if you usually breastfeed without any pain and suddenly it becomes painful.

It tends to happen if your nipples are cracked or damaged, as this means that the yeast fungus (candida albicans) can get into your nipple and breast.

Antibiotics can also increase the likelihood of thrush as they reduce the number of helpful bacteria in the body and so the thrush can flourish.

If you think you or your baby has thrush, please speak to your doctor. Breastfeeding thrush is usually treated with a cream you spread on or around your nipples after feeds. Oral thrush is usually treated with an anti-fungal gel, which is safe for baby. Once you start treatment, your symptoms should improve within two or three days.