Although much of the new nursing routine is instinctive for your infant nursing is much like learning to dance with a new partner. In the early days mom's nipples may become very tender and sore. Often this is due the baby's mouth being poorly position at the breast. However, occasionally it may be the result of a condition known as thrush.
What is thrush? It is a parasitic fungal disease or yeast infection characterized by whitish spots and ulcers on the membranes of the mouth, tongue, and throat. It can be easily mistaken for milk. Sometimes it appears as cottage cheese. It is important not to touch or wipe these patches away. They may become sore and swollen.
Sometimes babies with thrush will cry when they nurse. They may refuse to eat altogether. A baby with thrush can spread the yeast overgrowth to their mother's breast which can increase nipple soreness. Dr. Sears provides some great tips on how to heal thrush http://www.askdrsears.com/html/8/t083100.asp
SIX WAYS TO TREAT THRUSH
Acidophilus – this is a powder form of the normal bacteria that live in our mouth and intestines. Click on it to learn how to apply it in baby's mouth.
Nystatin – this is a prescription antifungal liquid that you either squirt or paint with a Q-tip in baby's mouth four times a day. Continue this for five days after the thrush has cleared since it can be quite stubborn. It is common for thrush to recur, and more than one course of nystatin is often needed. One good aspect of nystatin is that it is not absorbed from baby's intestines into the bloodstream. Rather, it goes right through baby and out in the stool.
Sterilize bottle nipples or pacifiers – boil them for 20 minutes each day to kill the yeast that may be residing on them.
Wash toys that baby frequently chews on in hot, soapy water every day.
Don't forget to treat mom if breastfeeding – see below.
If the candida is resistant to the standard treatments described above, in consultation with your healthcare provider, try a 0.25 - 0.5 percent solution of gentian violet applied to your nipples twice a day for three days. Gentian violet is effective, but messy. Also, apply a small amount once a day to baby's mouth, but be aware that overuse of gentian violet may irritate the sensitive oral mucus membranes of baby's mouth. Apply Vaseline to baby's lips before using the gentian violet to avoid purple stains.Warning - gentian violet has been used for many years to treat thrush. A recent study done in Australia has linked gentian violet to cancer of the mouth. However, many other professionals around the world believe that it is safe, and continue to recommend it. For this reason, we suggest you use this remedy sparingly, and for as little time as possible.