Breastfeeding Tribulations: Thrush, Latching, Positioning, and Gas


I want to share my experiences: good, bad, ugly, and beautiful. “Another breastfeeding story?” you ask. Yes! I think it’s important to share our experiences with one another. We can relate and we can learn. I spent countless hours worrying–even after I went to a lactation consultant and a doctor. In the end, the best information that I came across was info from other mom blogs and info from various online forums.

I beamed with confidence because I am an “experienced” mother. Whenever the nurses or doctors asked me if I needed information pamphlets for breastfeeding classes I smuggly declined. In hindsight, I could have taken a class or two. See, I partially breastfed with my other two kids. I was an active duty Marine and I was back to work in six weeks. So truthfully, I pumped more than I nursed. As soon I got sore nipples I shied away from nursing. I made it barely four months.

When Declan came, I immediately breastfed him during bonding time. As the week progressed, my left nipple was more sore and sensitive despite the fact that I felt like we latched the same way on the other one; I just knew something was wrong. I later found out that I was “muscling” his head and using my hands/wrists too much to hold his head.

Apparently, if you notice your baby lying with her/his head turned to one side this could be an indication that their head was positioned that way lower in your cervix–he was super low at the end of my pregnancy–and can be infant torticollis. Surprisingly, this can affect how your baby latches so look out for it. Declan’s wasn’t serious, but some infants require chiropractic mediation so that corrective measures can be taken.

I continued feeding in pain for weeks, looking for signs of thrush in his mouth–anything that indicated that we had a problem. KellyMom is a great source for anything breastfeeding related by the way. I literally stalked this website–it helped me catch symptoms before they got out of control.

My left nipple was so painful that I pumped on it and fed off of the right one to try and heal it. I made a trip to a lactation consultant. She was great. A few days after our visit, despite me being better educated, I noticed a small white patch on the baby’s bottom lip. It looked like this:

I also noticed a red ring/rash forming around my left nipple. I knew it was the beginning of thrush. The next day my other nipple began hurting too. Keep in mind that we all carry yeast/bacteria in our mouths, but the incorrect latch causes the skin on the nipple to break down–this allows an environment that is suitable for yeast to get out of control.

So once I suspected that we had the beginnings of thrush I used the knowledge that the consultant provided me with as well as my own research. The consultant helped me with a new belly to belly position to help alleviate his gas. Watch this video and read this mom’s article about how important positioning is (I had no idea!).

Breastfeeding is a beast! Everything matters: the baby’s personality, whether their neck/head is sensitive, how they were positioned inutero, and probiotics!!

I started taking a liquid probiotic from our local Whole Foods Market and it was miraculous. I started incorporating coconut oil (pure, unrefined, pressed) in lieu of nipple cream. I will never use nipple cream again. It (coconut oil) has natural anti-fungal agents. I use it before and after feeding.

During one of my most painful nights I crumbled and took a left over pain med (I had one that they sent me home with after labor). Big mistake. I don’t do meds usually but the pain was excruciating. I require zofran because they tear up my stomach but I was so delusional and tired that I forgot mine were all gone. So, I slept for fours hours… but woke up curled in pain for an hour due to stomach cramps. Splendid. I wrote my doctor the next day because I could not handle the pain. I knew I needed diflucan in conjunction with home remedies.

I asked my doctor (preemptively) to write me a script for Diflucan. This medication does not kill yeast, it stops it from multiplying. Here are some other things that I did to help with thrush:

  • I used white distilled vinegar prior to showering. Put it in shot glasses (dilute it) and soak your nipples. It stings a little but the next day I had nipples that were healing.
  • I aired out as much as possible after feedings. My poor children are probably scarred for life!
  • Yeast hates sunlight! If you have a private yard, go topless for a few moments if you can.
  • This was just as important as the coconut oil!! Research it: Grape fruit seed extract can be diluted (it’s very strong and can burn skin) and applied with a q-tip to baby’s mouth and your nipples. You can purchase it on Amazon:
  • Wash breast pads, bras, breast pump equipment in white vinegar. I bought disposable breast pads until my symptoms cleared up but continued washing in vinegar just in case because yeast is tough to get rid of.

I felt like I had glass shards in my nipples for a day or so and I did pump on the left breast so it could heal; my symptoms subsided within two days. I had my husband feed him with a bottle for one night (this was the night of pain that I referred to earlier) so that I could rest my nipples and I bottle fed him for half a day too.

Don’t stress about exclusively breast feeding when your health and the baby’s well being are at risk.

I can’t tell you to push on if you are bleeding (I was) and have met your pain threshold; but I can suggest that you research and educate yourself. Arm yourself with knowledge. I am so thankful for the resources that I found and now the baby and I are just fine. I am so glad that we made it through that initial hurdle. This was us right in the middle of treatment (bags under my eyes, barely sleeping, I had already lost 25 pounds):

Babies are funny little people with interesting quirks. Every experience is different. Something tells me we have all experienced this:

I feel like I had to conclude this blog with a funny. You are not alone. Stay strong and do not give up. It’s worth it. Please share this and continue to empower one another!

*Title picture courtesy of “Mamas Now.”

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