Common Concerns and Challenges

Issues that can often be overcome with appropriate information and support

How is thrush treated?

The first step in treating thrush is to get an accurate diagnosis from your healthcare provider. There is no reliable lab test for thrush. If your doctor diagnoses thrush, it is essential for both you and your baby to be treated for thrush at the same time, even if only one of you has symptoms. Yeast is easily spread and thrives in warm moist environments such as your baby's mouth and your nipples.

What is thrush?

Thrush is an infection of the breast by yeast (Candida albicans). This same yeast can cause vaginal yeast infections, infect a baby’s mouth and cause a diaper rash. C. albicans is found on and in everyone’s body. Sometimes the balance between the different normal flora of the body gets out of whack and yeast can take over, resulting in symptoms of a yeast infection.

Why do I suddenly have nipple pain after nursing without pain for several weeks?

There could be a few reasons but a common cause of sudden nipple pain is thrush, or a yeast infection. This pain often feels intense or “burning” with shooting pains deep into the breast. It occurs both while nursing and between feedings. It is not improved with correcting baby’s latch. (For more information see FAQs Thrush.) Other causes for sudden nipple pain can be:

It hurts when my baby is breastfeeding. What can I do?

The most common cause of nipple pain is a shallow latch. This means that your baby does not have enough breast tissue in his mouth.  Babies need a deep latch to get enough milk. If your baby is not latched correctly, you may notice a crease across the tip of your nipple when it comes out of your baby’s mouth.  Or it may be shaped like a new lipstick, or white at the tip.  You may decide to take baby off the breast to try to reposition and fix baby's latch, but you should break the suction first to avoid causing further pain to yourself.

If my baby doesn’t drink all the breastmilk in a bottle, can I give him the rest at the next feeding?

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question as there is no research about whether it is safe or not. Until recently, the standard answer was to discard any breastmilk left in the bottle after a feed. However, recently it has been suggested that it might be okay to store breastmilk in the fridge for a short time. The current thinking is that bacteria growth is possible, but not likely, because fresh breastmilk has anti-bacterial properties, and a breastfed baby has a strong immune system to deal with any bacteria that do grow.

What is the best way to thaw my milk?

You can thaw your frozen breastmilk by holding it under cool running water. Gradually increase the water temperature to heat it to a comfortable feeding temperature. This is a temperature that feels warm, not hot, on your wrist. Periodically mix the milk in the bag or bottle by swirling gently, as it defrosts.  Milk can also be thawed in a refrigerator overnight.  Do not thaw or heat your milk in a microwave or directly on the stove.

To encourage, promote and provide breastfeeding, chest feeding and human milk feeding support and educational opportunities as an important contribution to the health of children, families and society