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.