This post is NOT meant to scare you or dissuade you from BFing.
I am only going to share with you my personal experience with a very serious and uncomfortable condition that could happen while BFing.
Thrush. Oh my. What an experience! The burning sensation that comes with thrush is almost indescribable. Almost.
The first 2 weeks of BFing are painful. There's no denying it and I don't want to discourage you, but it hurts! Of course it's nothing compared to what you just endured while giving birth (what else in your life will ever compare to that?!)
Some people will give you the text book answer of "it shouldn't hurt. If it does check your latch" blah blah blah. Okay yes, that is technically true, but it's also true that during those first 2 weeks, every time your baby latches on it feels like a clothes pin clamping on and twisting. O_o Oy vey!
So how do you know the difference between regular "early BF pains" and thrush? The burning =(
I was about 3 weeks into BFing and it wasn't getting any easier. I was using my APNO (I'll post that info later) but my nipples were still killing me during every BF session. At 4 weeks I started to get worried. I knew that it was supposed to get easier, so why wasn't it?!? I realized during one of T man's nursing's that only my right nipple was hurting ... no ... burning! =/ My left nipple felt perfectly fine (comparatively) Over the next few days I noticed that the burning feeling was lasting longer and longer, both during and then after nursing sessions. Eventually, I had a burning sensation in my whole right breast from the nipple up to my collar bone. And on top of that, I could feel the milk coming out my nipple. Not just the let down sensation, but all the milk streaming out my breast felt like broken gas & barbed wire being dragged out my nipple. ='(
I dreaded the idea of having to put T man on the right breast. Just thinking about it made my stomach turn. All I could do though was curl my toes & breath through it. My baby had to eat & I knew I had to use both breasts. I did some research & discovered that I (most likely) had thrush. Unfortunately for me, it was the day before Thanksgiving and the doc offices were already closed.
Since I had to wait a couple days for any professional help, I took to the internet for at home remedies & relief. Here's what I found:
** Air out your breasts as often as possible. Moisture breeds yeast. Walk around topless if you can, at least for a few minutes after nursing sessions
** Change your nursing pads every single nursing. Again, moisture breeds yeast!
** Probiotics. Take them and take them often. It will help your body regulate "good" yeast from "bad" yeast
** Reduce your sugar intake (sugar feeds yeast) and eliminate dairy (you shouldn't be eating dairy anyway though) and of course, drink lots of water
** Do NOT freeze infected milk. Pump if it's more comfortable for you (it was for me) and you can bottle feed your baby if necessary, but DO NOT freeze the milk. You will freeze the yeast & it will remain "active" until you thaw it. Then you'll just be feeding the yeast back to your baby, reintroducing thrush to you and baby again.
** If baby has symptoms (white patches in his mouth that won't wipe away) you can give him probiotics too. My Pedi recommended I buy children's probiotic powder and add it to a bottle once a day. Since I was pumping my right side anyway, I added the powder to that milk & bottle fed T man with the probiotics.
Yeast infections can not and will not clear up on their own. You need to take action against the bacteria in your body, whether by homeopathy or prescription methods. Once I was able to contact my OB, she confirmed that I did have thrush & she was able to prescribe me with Diflucan. I took the diflucan orally, used my APNO (which contains nystatin) took my probiotics and gave T man his probiotics. Eventually the pain subsided and I realized that BFing actually does not hurt! What a relief that was. I was finally able to enjoy my time spent nursing T man instead of cringing, dreading and (occasionally) crying during sessions.
Although thrush is a constant threat to BFing moms (yeast is never just a one time event) you can limit your risk by practicing healthy nipple maintenance and avoiding prolonged nipple moisture.