THRUSH while Breastfeeding

If your baby has thrush in their mouth or nappy area, or you have thrush on your nipples (thrush can be one of the reasons for very painful nipples during and between feeds, especially if you haven’t had pain in a while), you have to treat both yourself and your baby.

With thrush you have to literally ‘declare war’ because if even a few ‘spores’ remain, and you think it’s gone, it can just sneak back again, and you’ll have to start all over again in your fight against it, so it’s best to just treat yourself and your baby UNTIL all symptoms are gone, and then CONTINUE for another 7 days.

You need to treat both yourself and your baby, even if one of you is symptom-free.


Start with your diet while you treat the rest, because if you feed the thrush internally, you may just be fighting a losing battle with whatever you do on the outside, so:

  • Cut all sugars out of your diet, and also anything artificial and GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) – Any wheat, soya, and corn/maize in South Africa, and any products that are made from these, are all GMO by default, unless it particularly states that it is non-GMO or “GMO Free” on the packaging, no matter what the brand, or how healthy it looks. Your body does not recognize GMO products, so all sorts of diseases, including thrush can result in the long or short-term. Also: any white bread, cakes, cookies, maize, etc (anything that is low GI) – once it digests, your body sees it as a sugar, so these should also be avoided.
  • Do not go for any artificial sweeteners. If you have a sweet tooth, the powdered “Stevia” is probably the best choice for sweetening drinks and foods. (Nature’s Choice brand seems not to contain any additives)
  • Eat more leafy-greens, and/or take AIM’s BarleyLife daily. (Contact me for more info on how to get this at a reduced price that I offer my clients.)
  • Google “alkaline-ash foods” and eat 80-100% of these to maintain a healthy pH in the blood-stream. 
  • Google “acidic-ash foods”, and eat none of these, or only up to about 20% of these foods. (If you like a certain type of food that is acidic-forming, there is nearly always an alternative that you can replace it with and enjoy it almost the same, e.g. Millet instead of rice/wheat grains 😉


  1. Select a small, clean glass jar – about the size of a small Black Cat Peanut Butter jar, or a small glass jar that can hold about 300ml of water.
  2. Boil some water in the kettle and carefully pour about 300ml of hot water into this jar. (Preheat the jar first by swirling a little hot water in it first, so that it does not crack with the heat when you first fill it up.)
  3. Allow it to cool. (If you are very clean and sterile, and you work with clean hands, and use clean cottonwool swabs, dipped only once each into this solution for each nipple, and you keep this solution in the fridge, you need only change it again every 2-3 days. Do this – and always wash your hands before working with this solution and the swabs.)
  4. Stir 1-2 teaspoons of Bicarb (bicarbonate of soda) into this solution. 
  5. Keep this solution in the fridge, and change it daily, or every 2-3 days. (see above)


  1. After each feed, or after each time you express, wash your hands, then dip a clean cottonwool swab into this solution, and dab your whole nipple and areola area with the Bicarb solution. Use a clean swab for each nipple. 
  2. Then first let your nipples air-dry, and after they are dry, apply a THIN layer of a barrier nipple cream, such as Lansinoh or Purelan (not one of the creamier creams that get absorbed and don’t form a barrier). The goal is to apply it thinly so that it does not block out the air too much, but causes a barrier so that any leaked (sweet) breastmilk won’t touch the skin again and ‘feed’ the thrush. Usually breastmilk is one of the best ’nipple creams’ to apply to nipples, except in the case of thrush. With thrush, breastmilk can become food for the thrush, especially the more acidic, sugary or ‘junky’ the mother’s diet is.. 😉
  3. If the solution feels too strong on your nipples, dilute it a bit. Always listen to your body. It should feel soothing and you should feel ‘relief’ almost immediately, and you could be almost pain-free by day 3 (also depending on the severity of the thrush) if you are consistent in applying the solution after EVERY feed and/or after each time you express your milk.)
  4. Treat your nipples this way after each feed or after expressing – until all pain disappears, and then continue for another 7 days if you want to be totally rid of the thrush with no come-backs 😉
  5. If your thrush is very painful, it can help to wear Medela’s Breast Shells (dome-shaped) inside your bra (These are not to be confused with Nipple Shields that some babies are fed with, but can cause more problems than they solve ;). (Nipple shields look like mini Mexican hats, lol  – I’m not talking about these for thrush.)
  6. It can also help to expose your nipples to the sun every day for 10-20 mins – taking care not to get sun-burn on top of the thrush! Consider the time of day and your skin type, and how often you’ve been sun-tanning like this.


Thrush in a baby’s mouth looks mostly like milk-curds that cannot be wiped away. It can be painful for baby. Thrush can appear on baby’s tongue, lips, inside the cheeks, on the teeth or gums, and it can spread, or only be visible on the tongue. Sometimes the thrush will go all the way through your baby’s digestive tract and cause a nappy/diaper rash that won’t seem to clear with any normal nappy cream.

  • If your baby has thrush in his or her mouth, wash your hands and wrap a clean gauze swab around one of your fingers.
  • Dip your swabbed finger into the Bicarb solution and then wipe all over the inside of your baby’s mouth, making sure to reach all over in baby’s mouth, and especially where the thrush is visible. This can be done before feeds too, but should especially be done after feeds.
  • You can use a good barrier cream (like Germoline) if your baby has a nappy rash. 
  • This bicarb solution and diet may be all you need to do if your baby only has thrush in the mouth and/or you have on your nipples. 
  • If your baby has a thrush nappy rash, and you alkalize your diet as explained above, you may not need to treat your baby with anything other than the Bicarb solution in the mouth. Otherwise you may want to ask your doctor for something that will also treat your baby’s gut.


  • At LEAST once a day, boil everything that comes into contact with your baby’s mouth and/or your nipples. 
  • (This would include pacifiers/dummies, breast shells, nipple shields, washable breast pads, bottles and all teats – if any are used, etc.)
  • Boil everything for at LEAST 20 minutes each time. 
  • Sterilizing solutions and microwave sterilizers are not as effective in this regard.

I hope this helps! 🙂

For any questions or comments please contact:

Yulanda Ridge, IBCLC
Lactation/Breastfeeding Consultant

082 7255 043 (Preferably on Telegram/Whatsapp) 

[All information, content, and material of this website or in this article is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.]

(c) Yulanda Ridge, IBCLC

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