It is almost summertime!
I live near a large park that attracts many parents and children. All day long I see people walking past my home in search of sunshine, an outlet for their kids, and community.
I see the kids in wagons, on bikes, and mastering their scooters. I see moms on bikes and scooters too. There are also many pushing strollers, and more and more I see moms and dads alike wearing babies and toddlers.
At this time last year, as a lactation consultant I saw my fair share of cases of thrush in Chicago. This yeast infection was on boobs, under boobs, on nipples, on babies bottoms, and in their mouths. This was so common, in fact, it started me thinking about the common denominator—exposure to warm weather.
I also saw a couple of other themes—baby wearing and reusable breast pads.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Reusable breast pads are an environmentally-friendly option, and I would like my grandchildren to have a green and lush planet. But, there is a small error when it comes to reusable breast pads, they are so good at wicking moisture when they get wet but they aren’t changed. And this coupled with wearing the baby in warm weather is a recipe for thrush.
Yeast, like many microbes, love a few things: darkness, warmth, and dampness. Combine a hefty supply of milk in a breast pad that is smashed against the skin, and you have the perfect laboratory for colonization.
I began warning my clients this winter and spring about this to prepare them, because once summer hits it can be too late. Here are my recommendations:
1. As soon as you feel your breast pad is wet, or you know you had leakage, change it. These pads are so great at wicking moisture, sometimes you cannot tell. However, if you know you are prone to leaking then change them a few times a day.
2. Wash these reusable pads in the whites cycle (hot water) and dry on hot. This will kill any spores that may be living in the pads.
3. When you return home from a walk, remove your shirt and bra and let things air out.
4. If you are sweaty and wet, use a baby wipe or clean washcloth to clean all over (and under) to make sure your skin is clean.
5. Avoid wearing several layers under your carrier if you are baby wearing so that your skin stays dry.
If you have stabbing pains in the breast, pink nipples, and nipple pain when just wearing a shirt or bra then you may want a second opinion from a healthcare provider. Treating thrush requires treatment of both members of the dyad—mother and baby.
These simple steps can reduce your chances of thrush growing as the weather warms. If you suspect thrush, apply consumable coconut oil and call a lactation consultant. They can help you with a plan to treat and prevent any issues. A thrush infection is the last thing I would wish upon any new mother, so let’s just try to prevent it this summer.