There are many ways to eliminate thrush. Nystatin is a common prescription for thrush. A cream containing Nystatin is generally applied topically to the nipples, and baby may be prescribed a liquid form of Nystatin that is swabbed on the white patches in her mouth. Dr. Lehman says it’s important to use the medication the baby is prescribed on everything baby puts in her mouth, such as pacifiers and bottle nipples.
Gentian Violet is an antifungal agent that can also be applied to thrush. Dr. Tobin recommends applying a one-percent solution once a day for three days using a cotton swab (allow your baby to suck on the tip of the cotton swab). It should also be applied to mom’s breasts, bottle nipples, and pacifiers. What about the colorful reputation of this purple remedy? “Gentian Violet is messy but highly effective,” says Dr. Tobin. “While it stains clothing, it does not stain skin ... the color disappears in a few days.”
According to Dr. Shari Lieberman, author of The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book, an excellent way to treat thrush is to restore the friendly flora. The most important way to achieve this is to continue breastfeeding, because breast milk contains a friendly flora known as bifidobacteria.
Moms may also take acidophilus, garlic, and/or oil of oregano—all three help to kill yeast (these three also work well for non-breastfeeding moms who have thrush). Baby will inherently gain the benefits of this treatment via Mom’s breast milk.
Dr. Lieberman says other measures to help prevent and treat thrush include taking a quality prenatal vitamin; disinfecting (boiling) all pacifiers, toys, and bottle nipples; and avoiding alcohol and sugar.
Dr. Galland recommends a healthy diet, taking flaxseed oil supplements, and eating plenty of green, leafy vegetables. He also suggests talking to your doctor about taking extra vitamin supplements.
Pumping Milk for Baby
Mom can continue to pump breast milk, even while experiencing thrush, unless it’s just too painful to do so. According to Dr. Lieberman, “You’re basically pumping food and you should treat it the same way you treat food.” Sterilize and disinfect tools as instructed on the breast pump.
Mary Talbot came face to face with thrush after her son Connor was born. Connor developed thrush in his digestive tract after being prescribed antibiotics as a pneumonia precaution. “He’d suck once, then cry because he was hungry,” says Talbot. “We are now more hesitant to put him on any kind of antibiotics.” Talbot says The Nursing Mother's Companion by Kathleen Huggins was very helpful in treating her son’s thrush. “The one thing we did find when he got really bad [was that] he could drink from a bottle easier [than nursing].” Talbot would pump, then bottlefeed Connor her breast milk. Because the thrush wasn’t causing Talbot much discomfort, it didn’t hurt her to breastfeed or pump.