Let’s Talk About Boobies

I have to talk about the boobs. AGAIN.

And I really don’t want to talk about the boobs. Again.

But it’s really all I can think about lately. I have some decisions to make about breastfeeding and I need to vent.

It seems that I have thrush. Again.

To those who don’t know about thrush, it’s an annoying issue with breastfeeding mothers. Basically, it’s an overgrowth of common yeast found in all of us. In non-lactating people, it lives in harmony with other organisms in your body. Things can get out of hand, however, if this yeast is allowed to live in warm, moist (oh, I so hate that word) environments. Hence, a nursing mother’s breast and a baby’s mouth are perfect breeding grounds for the yeast. Then begins the classic passing-it-back-and-forth game between the mom and baby.

It doesn’t kill you, it doesn’t make you systemically ill, but it hurts to nurse. Like really hurts. Besides the pain, your nipples turn a lovely shade of angry fuchsia and something as pleasant as a breeze blowing will make you wince.

And how do you get this so-called thrush you ask? Well, that’s the best part! Although there are many culprits, the most common is taking antibiotics. Remember that little bout of mastitis I told you about? Well, looks like the antibiotics I took to clear that up probably caused this. Eye for an eye, I guess.


Breastfeeding is hard.

I never thought these ailments would be the end of my breastfeeding days. I love breastfeeding. I can NOT emphasize that enough. I was one of the lucky ones who never had problems with latching on, had plenty of milk, etc. I love the fact that my thriving 90th percentile son is solely nourished by me. I love the special moments when he looks up at me and smiles or the way he squeezes my hand while he’s feeding. Oh Christ, here come the waterworks. It’s more than the breast milk. It’s the connection.

I am so sick of fretting over this.

I have done more research on these breastfeeding issues than a graduate student would do for his/her thesis. I have contacted professionals, spent hours reading medical journals and it just makes me more frustrated.

Here is what the La Leche League suggests doing if you have recurrent thrush:

1. Avoid sugar, including fruit and artificial sweeteners, anything with yeast including breads, anything fermented, like wine and vinegar, and dairy products, except yogurt with live cultures. Cut back on high carbohydrate foods.
2. Set your dishwasher to heat the water hot enough to kill yeast on glasses, dishes and utensils for oral yeast in family members using these dishes. If you hand wash, dip the dishes and utensils in a bleach solution first.
3. Eliminate the use of Natural B vitamins such as Brewer’s Yeast for a time.
4. Brush your tongue as well as your teeth.
5. Replace toothbrushes regularly. Boil or soak in a 10% bleach solution after each bout of thrush.
6. Disinfect dental or orthodontic appliances each and every time they are removed from the mouth.
7. Discard roll-on or solid deodorant after the initial yeast outbreak has cleared.
8. Use regular, rather than antibacterial soap. Killing bacteria can make yeast overgrowth more likely.
9. Check for yeast growing in or under/around finger or toenails, under arms or breasts, in the groin or baby’s diaper area. Does baby suck thumb, finger or knuckles? Check them carefully. Wash baby’s hands frequently. Also check the finger and toenail beds and where skin touches skin for the entire family.
10. Take precautions to avoid the spread of yeast with family underwear, bras and towels.
11. Wear pantyhose with a cotton crotch, cut the crotch out of the panty or wear thigh-high hose.
12. Avoid synthetic underwear and tight jeans.
13. Change quickly out of sweaty exercise clothes or wet swimsuits.
14. Notice any correlation between your menstrual cycle and thrush reoccurrence, particularly a few days before menses starts.
15. Ask your partner to be checked for a yeast infection.
16. Wash your hands every time you use the toilet, handle your breasts or milk, put your fingers in your own or your baby’s mouth, change diapers (nappies).
17. Treat every single thing possible that you put in your mouth or your children put in theirs to kill yeast.
18. Disinfect inhalers or breathing treatment machines for asthma or other conditions between uses.
19. Replace makeup after clearing up a yeast infestation. Yeast can live on lipsticks, lip and eyeliners, eye shadows, mascaras, foundations and powders. Disinfect or replace makeup applicators.
20. Check everyone in the family for cracks in the corner of the mouth.
21. Have a veterinarian check animals for yeast. Pets with fur can harbor yeast, particularly in their ears. Feathered pets can have yeast overgrowths, too.

I ask you, when is it just TOO MUCH? If I spent the time doing all of these things, plus the anti-fungal cream, the vinegar rinses, treating the baby, I wouldn’t have any time to spend with my child.

Enough is enough.

But then begins the issue with formula. What is deterring me from using formula? I was a formula-fed baby and I think I turned out pretty decent, thank you very much.

Is it what I hear CONSTANTLY from the media and breastfeeding organizations about breastfeeding being superior? Or is it my inherent knowledge as a mother as to what’s best for my baby?

I know what’s best for my baby. A mutually satisfactory and healthy breastfeeding relationship. But we don’t have that anymore. What we do have is a lot of frustration, crying and worry on the mother’s part.

I’m at a loss.

  • Jennifer

    November 3, 2006 at 8:35 am

    I had difficulty breastfeeding both my girls and at about 2 months switched to formula with both. I’m now pregnant with #3 and have thought about going straight to formula from the get go. BUT…it’s just not that cut and dry is it? I just reached 12 weeks of pregnancy and I’ve been fretting about this since I found out I was pregnant 4 weeks ago. This is the advice I keep trying to convince myself of: You need to do what works for you and your overall family. If it doesn’t feel right anymore, change it.

    I hope that you’re able to find a solution that works for you and that you can be happy with. I really do understand the struggle of changing to formula.

    Another thought that comes to mind for me is that this is a nutrient that is only needed for their first year of life. When your child is 3 years old and thriving, are you really going to be stressing over whether or not you breastfed or used formula?

    If you would like to talk more feel free to email me. It’s tough being a mom sometimes.

  • rebecca

    November 3, 2006 at 8:45 am

    Whoorl, I agree with you 100% – breastfeeding is HARD. I didn’t have thrust or mastitis, but I cried in pain almost every time I nursed my baby for the first several weeks, despite visiting multiple lactation consultants who assured me I was doing everything right. I often wondered how it was possible that the human race had sustained itself for so long if nursing was so hard.

    So I can’t, and won’t, tell you what to do. You’ve obviously done your homework. I think it’s amazing that you have gotten this far given what you’ve had to go through. I’m proud of you! Just keep in mind that there is more to being a mother than breastfeeding. It’s important for you to enjoy your time with him too.

  • Heather

    November 3, 2006 at 8:57 am

    I hate to hear that you’re having all this frustration in your life. I had to stop breatfeeding at 2 months do to insufficient supply and it was HARD, but we got through it. If it means that much to you to breatsfeed Anders than keep it up. The to do list seems lengthy and maybe a tad overdone, but you can pick out the important points that affect your routine. And hey, #11 could be fun for you and D. You’ll get through this. Gotta go, baby crying.

  • Kim

    November 3, 2006 at 9:05 am

    Oh, whoorl. I cried right along with you through this post. I feel your pain – well your emotional pain anyway. I’m in the same place because of such low supply. At what point do I just give in to make everyone’s life a little easier but mine with a lot more guilt and feeling of failure? I hope you find the right answer for you, it’s never easy. I’m sure you’ve heard it plenty – look how far you were able to make it, good for you, especially with what you’ve had to go through. It sure doesn’t make you feel any better or make it any easier though. But you know what’s best for you and your little one and you know when to call it good. If you tried those million and one suggestions from LLL, you wouldn’t even have time to breathe let alone time to spend with your baby. Good luck, girl. I know this has been the hardest part for me so far, I’m sure it’s up there for you as well.

  • kimmer

    November 3, 2006 at 9:06 am

    I nurse once in the morning just to pass the antibodies and the rest of nourishment comes from formula. It makes it so much easier for me. One less thing to stress out about when you go back to work, too.

  • Erin

    November 3, 2006 at 9:06 am

    I had a friend with this problem and nothing she did solved it until she added formula into the mix. I know the two of them – mom and baby – were always a dark purple colour because gentian violet helped. What she ultimately did was keep up the routine with the washing of hands and generally disinfecting things that make sense to disinfect – utensils, cups, etc. She nursed half the time and went with formula the rest of the time. The good news is it is not all or nothing. Just the break for a few hours a day helped her with the pain, allowed some time for cleaning up and breaking the cycle of the yeast passing and also gave her husband some bonding time. Her son was formula fed in the evenings and early morning when her husband was home and she nursed throughout the day for the most part. She was able to nurse her son until his first birthday.

  • Rachel

    November 3, 2006 at 9:13 am

    Ow! My boobs are having sympathy pains for you all the way across the country. Whatever you decide to do is going to be 100% right. That list is a tad daunting, but maybe you can pick and choose? I don’t boil or sterilze ANYTHING and Jillian seems to be quite all right with that.

    Perhaps you could dip Anders in vinegar?

  • Janice

    November 3, 2006 at 9:29 am

    There is nothing wrong with formula feeding. Or is that totally out of the question? We formula fed our twins and life was EASY!! Just a thought.

  • erin rae

    November 3, 2006 at 9:36 am

    While I do have boobies, I don’t have babies, so I won’t even try to make up some assvice…

    However, I am intrigued by the list of tips:

    “10. Take precautions to avoid the spread of yeast with family underwear, bras and towels.
    11. Wear pantyhose with a cotton crotch, cut the crotch out of the panty or wear thigh-high hose.”

    Does this mean that if you go with crotchless panties that sharing them with the family is OK? Obviously we share towels, but ~family underwear~?

  • SAJ

    November 3, 2006 at 9:40 am

    Awww. Whoorl. Man, I wish I had a magic wand that I could flick and make everything all better. We stopped by yesterday but I knocked really really lightly cause I had a gut feeling that you might be holed up in there feeding Anders. You’re the smartest mom I know. You make me tired just thinking of all the research you’ve done. When Anders gets big, I’m going to tell him how much you love him and how hard you tried to do everything perfect all the time. Which you are. You are a perfect mom.

  • Carrie

    November 3, 2006 at 9:50 am

    There is another option. My baby is 2 months old. We weren’t able to work out the whole breastfeeding thing, so I have been pumping full time. She eats nothing but breast milk. For the cost of a couple months worth for formula you can get a nice electric double pump. My only complaint would be that it is time consuming, but worth it if this is the only way I can provide the benefits of breast milk. I still feel guilty sometimes that I wasn’t able to do it right, but, as my lactation consultant said, it’s not worth it if you’re going to be miserable. Good luck with whatever you decide.

  • mar

    November 3, 2006 at 9:53 am

    Some people are just more prone to thrush, just like some are more prone to bronchitis, UTI’s, eczema, etc. It doesn’t have to be about something you’re doing wrong, etc. Sometimes it just is. It certainly has nothing to do with whether you are a good mom – as evidenced by the fact you are so worried about it!

    I had a problem with my oldest in that I had a bit of low supply. I had enough for most meal times, but I was working part time, and trying to pump enough to stock up for those times was impossible (because of the type of job I had, I couldn’t pump at work). I spent my off days nursing, then pumping, then nursing, then pumping – waking up in the middle of the night to pump, even though the baby slept through – it was a nightmare. I stressed about it constantly. Finally, I said – enough is enough. He formula fed when I wasn’t with him, and he breastfed when I was. I was a much more sane human being, and I’m sure that made me a better mom! As for my son – well, at age 10, he’s in 2 different gifted and talented programs at school (academic and art) and is a healthy, wonderful kid.

    Give yourself a break – a bottle or two of formula a day might be all you need to get over this. If/when that happens, you can go back to 100% breastfeeding – it’s not a one way street! But the guilt and stress doesn’t do you or Anders any good. Oh, and if you are concerned about constipation, you might try a low iron formula just to get him started. Good luck!

  • margaret ann

    November 3, 2006 at 9:59 am

    Whoorl, hang in there! I think breastfeeding is great, but the La Leche league can be over the top…that list was ridiculous!! The good news is that whatever you decide, Anders has already had a lot(if not all) of the benefits that breastfeeding offers. Formula fed babies do great too. Especially if it keeps their mothers feeling sane.

  • Alecia

    November 3, 2006 at 9:59 am

    I’m so sorry. I have a 3 week old and have been following your blog and preg all summer. I have no tips…just empathy and prayers for you both.

  • Lisa

    November 3, 2006 at 11:21 am

    These decisions can seem so overwhelming when you’re going through them. The best advice that I can offer you is to just trust your instincts. And don’t be so hard on yourself. The decision may be tough but you’ll be relieved when you finally just take the step in the direction that you choose. You just have to do it and know that no matter what, you can’t go wrong with your decision.

    I nursed both of my kids but supplimented with formula from day one. Reason being was that I refused to pump (I don’t know how you Mom’s keep up with that on top of everything else!) but I also wanted my hubby to take part and give me the much needed reprieve. There were pros and cons to both and I’m sure you’ve already thought of them all. (nursing = immediate accessibility without the hassle of mixing and warming, etc. But oh the pain you can go through. Whereas, formula = additional help from the hubby and no boobie pain involved. But the drawbacks = mixing, heating bottles, stains from the formula on clothing and oh those God awful smelling burps!!)

    Just know that you can’t go wrong. Whatever you decide will be perfectly alright for you and Anders.

    And if you go the formula route, may I recommend Nestle Good Start. The price is good, it’s not as dark in color (less staining) and doesn’t smell quite as strong as the Similac’s and Enfamil’s.

    Good luck – I’ll be thinking of you!

  • amy

    November 3, 2006 at 11:42 am

    you poor mommy. only a nut head would take steps such as those to avoid yeast. your body doesn’t agree with breastfeeding. i think it would better for you and anders to feed him formula. its too much on your body!
    i am loving your daily posts!

  • amy

    November 3, 2006 at 11:45 am

    p.s. a little off the subject…but wanted to tell you we will be eating sprinkles for my bday cake at work today and i will be thinking of you. hey…thats what you need…go get a dark chocolate one…now! this will make you temporarily forget your boobie worries…

  • BeachMama

    November 3, 2006 at 12:00 pm

    I haven’t read all the comments to see if this has been suggested. I never had thrush, but many, many of my friends did. All of them used gentian violet and it worked well. They used it both on their nipples and the baby’s gums, turns everything purple apparently, but works like a charm, so I am told. Check it out, it may work for you.


  • Sara

    November 3, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    I just wrote a post on my blog about the end of nursing my daughter. What I always told myself, and I’ll share with you is this: I never wanted to feel contempt or regret or dissatisfaction for breastfeeding or my child. I told myself that if something was wrong or causing me so much grief and frustration…I’d quit. You may want to try the Gentian Violet mentioned above or maybe even just a few of the suggestions. That list does seem…extensive, to say the least.
    Best of luck — I have no doubt you’ll find the connection with your son, no matter how you feed him. And now I’m tearing up for you.

  • Angella

    November 3, 2006 at 12:28 pm

    I have never had thrush…
    With my first, I had no breastfeeding issues whatsoever, and felt like I knew it all. Ha!
    My second did NOT nurse well, and preferred a bottle and was on formula at 3 months. So far, so good this third time with Emily, but I now know that there is no cut and dried solution – you just do what works best for you and Anders :)

  • kristin

    November 3, 2006 at 12:35 pm

    i second the post about acidopholis. thrush sounds a little more complicated than typical yeast issues, but it’s supposed to help the body balance itself… worth a shot?? my understanding is that it is safe to take everyday, so you could incorporate it into your daily routine with your multivitamin to keep the yeast at bay rather than soaking your house in bleach. i’m sorry this issue is stealing your joy of breastfeeding. :(

  • lulu

    November 3, 2006 at 12:36 pm

    Whoorl – I’m so sorry. :( It pains me to see you go through this much agony with your breastfeeding, and I really hope your thrush clears soon. I will be sending you good vibes and hoping you find an acceptable (for you) compromise/solution.

  • reluctant housewife

    November 3, 2006 at 1:02 pm


    I nursed exclusively for a year with my firstborn. It wasn’t great, but I did it.

    With the second? We will do a nursing/formula mix. Because you know what? Sebastian started drinking formula in the middle of the first year, and he was fine.

    You don’t have to give up nursing 100% if you don’t want to. You can do both. Or just do formula if it works better for you. The best way is what is going to make you happy. You need all your energy for all the work ahead.

    This coming from another 100% formula fed baby who grew up into a more or less sane person, except for the fact that she has a blog.

    Good luck!

  • Bethany

    November 3, 2006 at 1:43 pm

    I am sorry you are so conflicted. Breastfeeding is not easy in the first few months, that is true. I had a really difficult time with my daughter–not latching properly, slow weight gain, etc.–and ended up using formula in the end. I tried really hard to avoid it because I am cheap and lazy, and hated the thought of washing and sterilizing bottles all the time. (Which is a thought I had reading the list of stuff you’re supposed to do to prevent yeast, that you would be doing almost as much work if Anders switched to formula only.) But once I exhausted all other options, we supplemented with two 4-oz. bottles of formula a day, and that was fine. Not too many bottles to wash, but it gave me a couple of spaces of time in the day when I didn’t have to nurse. And actually, I weaned my daughter off the bottles around 9 months, when she was consuming more calories from solid food, and continued breasfeeding for another year. I was so glad in the long run that I stuck with nursing, because it was so helpful when we had to travel a lot, when we moved across the country to a new, strange place, and when my daughter went through a couple of illnesses around the 18-month mark. Extended breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, but I enjoyed nursing so much more after my daughter’s first birthday than I ever did when she was an infant.

  • reluctant housewife

    November 3, 2006 at 2:16 pm

    oops. I just re-read my comment. I tried to get Sebastian to drink formula at around 6 months – he refused more than an ounce at a time until he would take a full bottle at around 10 months. So while not “exclusively” nursing was his main source of nourishment for about a year.

    Still, baby#2 is going to get at least a bottle of formula a day once my milk supply comes in.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

  • Jora

    November 3, 2006 at 4:01 pm

    I guess I am in the minority here: Don’t Give Up on Breastfeeding Yet!! Every doctor will tell you it is the best thing you can do for your baby. Yes, Anders will survive on formula, but to really give him a headstart, he needs your breastmilk. Have you had your doctor prescribe an antifungal? Also, you can put acidopholus powder on your nipples and in Anders’ mouth. Read Dr. Sears, if you haven’t already… I know the LLL people are a little weird, but sometimes going to a meeting and talking to moms who have overcome the problem can really help (rather than fretting over a long list of do’s and don’t’s) he biggest things you’ve gotten through: Anders latching on correctly and having enough milk (he’s thriving!!) Either way, mom definitely knows best… Good luck Whoorl!

  • Amanda

    November 3, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    You know that I too have been through the breastfeeding ringer and it’s so hard! I haven’t endured the mastitis and thrush because my baby REJECTED MY NIPPLES (doesn’t that make a needy, hormonal first time mother feel so good)! The pumping thing worked for us and I am still going strong with my Ameda Purely Yours. It’s an extra step and somewhat time consuming but maybe you could just pump until the thrush cleared up? I don’t know. Whatever you end up doing, you can be confident in the knowledge that you are a super mom to Anders and he’s a lucky boy to have someone so concerned with his well being.

  • whoorl

    November 3, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    First of all, you guys rock the casbah. I was a teensy bit nervous that a breastfeeding/formula battle might start up. But NOOOOOOO, not my beautiful, well-behaved readers.

    Since some of you have asked, I have been using an antifungal for a couple of weeks now and also taking oral acidophilus in the mornings. Unfortunately, it’s not doing the trick. I am considering Gentian Violet as the next step.

    Today, I have been pumping my milk and feeding Anders with a bottle. Luckily, he has no issues with bottle-feeding (I guess the NICU trained him well).

    I haven’t decided ultimately what I am going to do, but I think it will consist of a combination of breast milk and formula. It just makes sense, especially since I will be returning to work at the end of the month.

    Thank you all so much for your concern…now, go have a great weekend!

  • ms. sizzle

    November 3, 2006 at 6:08 pm

    i just had to chime in, way late, to say that you are doing an awesome job being a mom. sincerely! hang in there, this sounds so rough on you. take care of you too, ya know?

    :) sizz

  • Angela

    November 3, 2006 at 11:22 am

    I had that with both of my sons. It is a huge pain. I still take the acidopholis every now and then. There is a great natural protocol from Jack Newman. He wrote a book. I visited his clinic and his treatment worked.


  • julie

    November 3, 2006 at 8:22 pm

    a few thoughts:

    i have hard that gentian violet is helpful (but colorful)

    if you end up NOT breastfeeding anymore, you have really done a lot by breastfeeding this far. any amount is good. you have a few months and that is good. just a thought if you end up not being able to do it.

    i too was exclusively fed formula and i too am pretty darn good, thank you.

    breastfeeding is super duper hard. it took me 7 weeks to just not have pain. i had cracked nipples, plugged ducts and bleeding.

    la leche league is awesome, but yes, i agree with someone else who said that they can be very over-the-top. don’t get overwhelmed by that list. just do what you can and see what happens.

    i hope it works out for you!

    also, selfishly, i am glad you are posting every day.

  • jonniker

    November 3, 2006 at 9:00 pm

    I have nothing to say, as I am fully supportive of all choices, and I just want you to be happy. Plus, I see that you have already come up with a great course of action.

    But. Am I the only one who finds that list completely un-helpful? No wonder you felt like crying. That list gave ME a headache, and I don’t have to do a lick of it. Like, no shit, you’re supposed to wash underwear and clean your dishes. Thanks, La Leche League. And I won’t even talk about the family underwear issue.

  • MamaBear

    November 3, 2006 at 2:58 pm

    Oh, Whoorl! I’m so sorry you are going through this! I feel for you! Hang in there, no matter what you decide. And most of all, WHATEVER DECISION YOU MAKE, WILL BE THE RIGHT ONE. That’s what my doctor told me. I was at a similar cross roads but for different reasons.

    No matter what you decide, your baby will grow up healthy and loving. If that weren’t true, then we would have a lot of people sick right now, because in the older generations formula was used a lot more then now.

    There is another alternative, you may want to consider them all since you are at the crossroads. You can pump and then feed him your breastmilk from a bottle. This can buy you some time to ponder if you want to stop breastfeeding.

    Whatever you do, you are the mother and you will make the best decision to both of you, and your son won’t care, trust me!

  • am'ti b

    November 3, 2006 at 10:03 pm

    hey now,you, me, lala, and leelee were all breast fed and we all are above and beyond the norm. anders will be the best no matter what b/c he has the best aunts and uncles ever (and the best mommmy and daddy).

  • am'ti b

    November 3, 2006 at 10:05 pm

    ……i also love any talk about boobies! SAVE THE BOOBS!

  • amanda

    November 4, 2006 at 5:32 am

    I’m so impressed that you’ve stuck it out through all the problems that you’ve had! I am expecting my first in May, and I am positive that I will give up at the first sign of trouble. You’re a supermom!

  • Nila

    November 3, 2006 at 11:30 pm

    You know what your doing with all that research you’ve done, but I will tell you that my formula fed babies would look up and smile at me when I fed them too, and they squeezed the hand. The moments alone with your baby are no less just because your feeding him a bottle. It’s what you make of it. There’s no less of a bond, but the guilt of quitting is sometimes overbearing. But, on the bright side, dad can share in that special bonding time too if you bottle feed.

    Good luck with your decision.

  • melinda

    November 8, 2006 at 12:46 pm

    Like so many other commenters, I’ve been a lurker for awhile now but just had to chime in on this post, as I’ve been going through (and blogging about) something so similar! Just finished my 4th course of antibiotics for my 2nd date with mastitis. I also got thrush and had to listen to the lactation consultant tell me, when I called her in hysrerics due to the huge revolting BLISTER on my nipple, “I can come help you fix this… for $150 an hour.” Meh. The lists of preventative measures, the catalogs of breastfeeding help devices, the endless, endless guilt — it all just sucks. There comes a time when we just need to enjoy our babies. We’ve started our daughter on formula, with 1-2 pumped bottles of breastmilk a day. She’s gaining weight and doing fine. You are SO not alone.

    And btw: if you do decide to wean or reduce the amount of nursing you’re doing, putting cabbage leaves in your bra will work WONDERS to slow your supply and soothe your soreness. I thought it was a joke when someone suggested it to me, but seriously? Like magic.