Duo Ventures

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Nursing Chronicles Part 4: Beating Thrush & Gentian Violet Tips

With August being National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I decided to write a series of posts with respect to my breastfeeding experience as a first time mom.  In my first three posts, I detailed our struggle from latching to thrush to Sami's frenulectomy procedure.  If you'd like to catch up, you can check out Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3.

I left off in Part 3, where we had just taken Sami to have both his tongue & lip tie revised through a frenulectomy when he was just over two months old.  While the nursing pain did not go away completely for me, there was a definite improvement with his latch.  Since the majority of our problems stemmed from our latch issues, I was very hopeful we would see improvements over the next month or so.

Thankfully, my pain did lessen & most of the previous side effects that I discussed in Part 3 dissipated over the course of a couple of months.  Unfortunately, I continued to experience a mild burning sensation as I nursed, accompanied by spots of thrush in Sami's mouth.  Although the frenulectomy had improved breastfeeding overall, it appeared as though we were still suffering from thrush.  By this point, it had been almost two months since his tongue & lip tie revision & Sami was almost 4 months old.  I felt like we had to give it another shot & get rid of the thrush once & for all.

Since Nystatin had done nothing for us in the past, I finally decided it was time to try Gentian Violet at the recommendation of a lactation consultant.  I had avoided trying GV for so long, simply because it sounded like it would be a huge mess to use.  My LC had said it had been around for years & was the main treatment for thrush before Nystatin came about.  Of course, it goes without saying that I'm sharing MY experience with you & you should always ask your own doctor before trying any sort of treatment.  As I've stated in previous posts, I am not a medical professional - this post is in regards to our personal experiences only.

My LC recommended a 1% topical solution, which I found at my local Target pharmacy.  I did not need a prescription, but it was also not a product they stocked on the shelves - I had to ask the pharmacist for a bottle.  Lucky for us, they had one bottle on hand.
It can be extremely messy - I say 'can be' because I feel if you take the right steps to apply it, you can minimize any potential staining.  It also depends on the age of your child & how active they are. Sami was about 4 months old, so he was not really mobile & I think it was easier to control & contain any possible mess.

Here's what I did when applying Gentian Violet:
---> I dressed Sami in clothes I wouldn't mind getting stained (FYI: we had minimal staining, but I was able to remove most them by applying some Oxi Clean to the stains & washing right away)
---> I always put a bib on him before applying the GV (their drool will be purple)
---> I timed the GV application right before nap time, also giving him a paci to minimize the chance of him putting things in his mouth (hands, toys, blankets, etc)
---> I applied coconut oil/olive oil around his mouth area so the gentian violet wouldn't stain his skin as much
---> I always opened the bottle of GV over a surface I wouldn't mind staining - like a paper plate (in case it ever tipped over & spilled)
---> to apply GV you can either dip a Q-Tip into the bottle & rub it all around their mouth (cheeks, tongue, inside of lips) OR you can apply the GV directly onto your nipples before breastfeeding & the GV will transfer while nursing.  Personally, I always applied it directly into his mouth because I was able to control the application directly on the areas of thrush.  Then in the evening, I would apply it onto my nipples directly, using disposable nursing pads so the purple didn't get on my bra.
---> just in case, I used a crib sheet I wouldn't mind staining & I laid down an old blanket on top of the sheet (I know they don't recommend loose blankets in the crib, but we tucked the blanket under the mattress & felt totally comfortable with the set-up...use your own discretion)
---> remember that thrush can easily transfer back & forth between baby & mom, so my LC recommended that it's always a good idea to treat the both of you at the same time - even if one of you is not showing symptoms.

Of course, you don't need to take any of these precautions, but they are good steps to take if you're worried about possible messes & stains.

Here's Sami with his purple mouth - you can see, we were pretty successful in containing the purple staining to the inside of his mouth only (he looks like a deer in headlights....ha!):

We found that the purple mouth usually went away within a day or two.  My LC advised we apply it for a few days at a time & then take a break from using it for a couple of weeks.  To be honest, I only applied it one time on two or three separate occasions from what I remember.  Luckily, that's all it took and we were FINALLY free of the thrush!

Over the course of the 3-4 months we had thrush, I tried tons of different things to get rid of it.  The only thing we didn't try was Grapefruit Seed Extract, so I can't share any opinions on that particular remedy.  Some of these methods were things I consistently did or used, while others were one time attempts:

-vinegar solution to clean my nipples after nursing
-oral Nystatin for Sami
-topical Nystatin for me
-probiotics for both of us
-frequent breast pad changes
-going shirt & bra-less around the house as much as possible to keep me dry (since yeast thrives in moist dark places)
-washing bras & bath towels in hot water everyday
-sitting out side in the sun sans shirt & bra (yes, I really did this - I was desperate!)
-daily sterilization of any pacifiers, nipple shields, toys (pretty much anything that came into contact with my nipples or Sami's mouth)
-Medela Breast shells (primarily to alleviate my pain & keep me dry, as anything touching or rubbing against me was excruciating)

Sami is currently 16 months old and I am still nursing him about 3 times a day.  I never would have thought that I would still be breastfeeding him at this point, but it's surprisingly become part of our routine & I don't mind it all...especially since it doesn't hurt anymore!

Bottom line - if it doesn't feel right while breastfeeding, there is probably something going on.  Trust your gut.  It's incredibly difficult to nurse your child when you constantly dread it.  It was so bad for me, that at one point I actually began to resent Sami & breastfeeding in general because it was just so painful & uncomfortable for me.  If you feel this way, it's probably time to get some outside help.

I hope that by sharing our story I can help some other moms out there who might be going through a similar experience.  Please let know if you have any questions!


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