Thrush, A Lesson in Balance

By Amanda Antal, LLL Leader &Home Remedy Enthusiast

Candida is a fungus that is found normally on the body, and when conditions are right it can overpopulate resulting in a yeast infection, or thrush.  It is usually brought on by an imbalance such as too hot and moist (think wet breastpads, tight pants, wet plastic diapers, wet bathing suits), too stressed (not taking time to care for yourself), or too sweet (as in sugar in the diet, or sugar in the blood).  Antibiotic use also imbalances the body's natural flora setting the stage for a candida bloom.  Nipples that are already cracked from improper latch are also at higher risk of a yeast infection.

You may not experience any pain with a thrush, you may have slight discomfort, or even severe pain.  Possible symptoms of thrush in the breastfeeding mama include burning pain in the nipples or breasts, shooting pain in the nipples or breasts (some say it feels like lightning), pain beginning after a feed or that gets worse at night, and red/itchy/shiny nipples.  Possible symptoms of thrush in babe include white patches in the mouth and throat that don't wipe off and may bleed, diaper rash, rashes in the folds of the skin, fussy at the breast due to a sore mouth, gassiness and irritability, and a clicking sound during nursing because of a slippery latch.

The risk of developing thrush increases with antibiotic use by mother or baby, diabetes or anemia in the mother, the birth control pill, excess sugar or alcohol in the diet, pacifier or nipple shield use, the use of plastic lined breastpads, nipples that are always touching wet breastpads, and nipples that are cracked.  The risk of developing vaginal thrush increases with the use of spermacide, condoms, tight or non breathable pants (no polar fleece long johns, please) and thongs.  Semen also changes the ph of the vagina, so be aware of the honeymoon effect.  Males can have yeast infections under their foreskins (skin infection), so be sure to treat them also.  If your baby boy has an intact foreskin, please don't pull it back to clean.  When intact, don't retract! 

Natural treatments to cure thrush soothe and heal inflamed tissues and help to bring back balance to the natural flora found on the nipples, skin and mucous membranes.  These treatments may be used to treat breast, oral, skin and vaginal yeast infections.  It is best to treat both mother and nurslings, and mother's sexual partner as yeast infections may be passed back and forth.   Before trying these home remedies check with your friendly health care provider to see if they are right for you and your family.

First try applying a good quality plain yogurt to the affected areas.  This helps to bring balance back to the flora found on and in the body.  It is very soothing and effective when applied to nipples after nursing, diaper areas, and the inside of baby's mouth.  In vaginal yeast infections you can apply yogurt externally as well as inserting a few spoonfuls into the vagina with fingers or a syringe, then wear a pad to catch the drips.  You may also enjoy 1/2 cup of plain yogurt twice per day to help balance your digestive flora.  Probiotics (100 Billion strength) may be taken by mouth, inserted vaginally, or open a capsule and spread the powder in baby's mouth or onto the skin.  Garlic cloves or garlic capsules may be eaten and a whole clove may be inserted into the vagina at bedtime.

Herbs such as calendula, chamomile and plantain can be enjoyed by mother as a tea (1 tsp herbs to 1 cup boiling water, covered, steeped and enjoyed 3-5 times per day).  The cooled and strained tea may also be used externally in a peri bottle for mom, or in a spray bottle for diaper changes, applied to rashes and nipples with a cotton ball (no double dipping please!), and given to baby on a spoon.  These herbs also make an effective poultice when wet with boiling water and spread onto a breastpad/maxi pad/diaper, cooled until tolerable, and applied warm.  If your baby isn't old enough to eat salad rinse your nipples off before nursing ;)

To discourage yeast from spreading you might also like to try adding apple cider vinegar to your bath and to the rinse cycle when you are doing laundry.  Some mothers will use a weak solution (1 tbsp vinegar to 1/2 cup or 1 cup water) on nipples after nursing, and on the diaper area.  Dry the area out by exposing the infected areas to more air and sunlight (even through a window).  Let baby go without a diaper or diaper cover for awhile (hardwood floors are a bonus here!).  Wash your hands after touching your milk or changing diapers, and avoid using pacifiers or nipple shields.  Breast or maxi pads with plastic liners can trap heat and moisture creating a perfect breeding ground for thrush.  Switching to reusable cotton pads also saves you money and helps lessen the impact on the environment.

With a little understanding and perseverance you can bring balance to your life, and your body.  If you experience recurrent yeast infections you may want to check with your friendly health care professional for an underlying medical condition, or for help cleaning up your diet.  A trip to your Naturopath or Herbalist may be called for.  See Links for a referral to my favourites!

Natural Homemade Baby Wipes

Ever check the ingredients of baby wipes? Scary!

Here is a great recipe for making your own disposable or reusable wipes with natural ingredients. Instead of using water, herbalists might use Calendula, Chamomile & Plantain Tea.


Happy Mothering!


It’s time to stop treating pregnancy like a disease

André Picard

The Globe and Mail

Last updated Monday, Jun. 16 2014, 6:13 AM EDT

The No. 1 reason for hospitalization in Canada is childbirth.

The most commonly performed surgery in this country is the cesarean section.

Those facts should give us all a case of morning sickness. And they should prompt a lot of hard questions.

Is pregnancy a disease? Is a hospital really the best place to give birth? Are women ending up there by choice or by default? Is surgery actually required to deliver one in every five babies?  Read More..

Gestational Diabetes:  Please Don't Drink the "Glucola" Without Reading the Label

by Aviva Romm

May 20, 2014

I’m a midwife and MD who specializes in the health and wellness of pregnant mommas. While I’m one of the original crunchy mamas, I got the science thing down tight in my medical training at Yale, so I can keep you informed on what’s safe, what’s not, and what are the best alternatives.

This article, in which I take on the toxic ingredients in oral glucose test drinks, is the first in a 3-part series on gestational diabetes. If you’re pregnant, planning to be pregnant, or working with pregnant mommas – this series is for you!  Read more...


Finding Breastfeeding Help

Breastfeeding your baby is one of the most amazing experiences of motherhood.  Sadly it seems common to experience pain while breastfeeding, however pain during nursing is NOT normal.  Please look for good help.  Many people who offer breastfeeding advice have no training, or personal breastfeeding experience.  Please ask your health care provider what training and personal experience they have had, before accepting their advice.  If you are not satisfied, keep looking for the right information and support. 

I offer Free Phone Help, Private Breastfeeding Help, & Mindful Mothering Cafes to help provide you with accurate breastfeeding information and mother-to-mother support.

Free Breastfeeding Phone Help

Call Amanda 519-875-4404

or email  for more information


Maternal Death in the United States: A Problem Solved or a Problem Ignored?

"The United States has a higher ratio of maternal deaths than at least 40 other countries... If the amount of money spent on maternity care provided an accurate indication of how well we are doing, mothers in the United States would be the luckiest in the world. After all, our country has the distinction of spending more per birth than any nation in the world on maternity care for the 4.3 million births that take place each year. Apparently, we are not spending that money in the smartest way possible, and it’s about time that we did."  Read more...

Common Medication (Diflucan) for Treating Vaginal Infections Linked to Birth Defects

By Aviva Romm, MD

In August 2011 the FDA changed the classification of Fluconazole (Brand Name: Diflucan), a commonly prescribed antifungal medication taken orally for the treatment of vaginal yeast infections, to a Category D drug. This means that there is evidence of human fetal risk but that benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women when medically necessary. Fluconazole has been found to cause birth defects in infants born to mothers who took it in high doses (400-800 mg/day) during the first trimester of pregnancy. Birth defects included brachycephaly (short, broad head), abnormal facial structure, abnormal skull development, cleft palate, bowing of the femurs, thin ribs and long bones, arthrogryposis, and congenital heart disease.  Read more...



Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone

By James J. McKenna Ph.D.
Edmund P. Joyce C.S.C. Chair in Anthropology

Often news stories talk about “another baby dying while cosleeping” but they fail to distinguish between what type of cosleeping was involved and, worse, what specific dangerous factor might have actually been responsible for the baby dying. A specific example is whether the infant was sleeping prone next to their parent, which is an independent risk factor for death regardless of where the infant was sleeping. Such reports inappropriately suggest that all types of cosleeping are the same, dangerous, and all the practices around cosleeping carry the same high risks, and that no cosleeping environment can be made safe.

Nothing can be further from the truth. This is akin to suggesting that because some parents drive drunk with their infants in their cars, unstrapped into car seats, and because some of these babies die in car accidents that nobody can drive with babies in their cars because obviously car transportation for infants is fatal. You see the point.

One of the most important reasons why bedsharing occurs, and the reason why simple declarations against it will not eradicate it, is because sleeping next to one’s baby is biologically appropriate, unlike placing infants prone to sleep or putting an infant in a room to sleep by itself. This is particularly so when bedsharing is associated with breast feeding.

When done safely, mother-infant cosleeping saves infants lives and contributes to infant and maternal health and well being. Merely having an infant sleeping in a room with a committed adult caregiver (cosleeping) reduces the chances of an infant dying from SIDS or from an accident by one half!  Read more...

Want to learn one of the key factors causing the skyrocketing cesarean section rates?

   By avoiding this common intervention, you can significantly reduce the need for this major and potentially dangerous (and often unnecessary) surgery.

In 1965, when the cesarean rate was first measured, it was 4.5%. Today it is over 30% and much higher in some hospitals! Yet, we know that the best outcomes occur for mothers and babies when rates are between 5-10%. So what's going on?

Click here for a complimentary video excerpt from the Happy Healthy Child childbirth education series where several world-renowned ob/gyns, midwives, family physicians and childbirth educators share one of the keys to avoiding this surgery.

Survey Sounds Alarm:  Canadian Doctors have Suboptimal Breastfeeding Knowledge

Andrea Janus,
Published Wednesday, June 11, 2014 8:00AM EDT

Canadian doctors have “suboptimal” knowledge of breastfeeding issues, says a new survey that sounds the alarm about the prevalence of one of the key barriers to helping new mothers breastfeed.  Read more...

Glucose Testing in Pregnancy:  Should it be Routine?

By Aviva Romm, MD

June 17, 2014

Tests should be done on the basis of individual risk. It’s rare that a test needs to be universally done – meaning that everyone gets it, pretty much no matter what. And healthy women should not be bullied into getting tests, as many pregnant women report happens when the 24 week mark rolls around signaling their doctor or midwife that it’s time for glucose testing. But should all women get glucose testing in pregnancy? This article explores just that…



Depression in Pregnancy:  10 Ways to Beat the Blues without Medication

by Aviva Romm

March 12, 2014

You’re full of new life! Overjoyed, right?

Actually, if you’re among the 1 in 10 – or even more – pregnant women who struggle with the symptoms of depression, then you might not be feeling overjoyed at all. While you may be happy to be pregnant, this may be overshadowed by cloudy feelings…


Nature's Bandaid:  From Sore Nipples to Insect Bites, Plantain Soothes and Heals

By Amanda Antal, Home Remedy Enthusiast

May 25, 2014

Plantain (Latin Plantago) has been called Nature's Bandaid, and is one of my top 10 herbs. My kids love to pick a clean leaf, chew it up, and apply the juice and leaves to any stings, bites, cuts, burns etc. You can also chop it up and make a tea to apply over larger areas to soothe rashes, eczema etc.     

It is a wild herb (or weed) that grows in lawns and on gravel driveways, just make sure it hasn't been sprayed with any nasty chemicals if you are going to use it to make medicine. Here are a few photos to help you identify it, this is the broad leafed variety showing the parallel veins. The narrow leaf plantain grows locally as well. Mine isn't flowering yet, but the green flowers have been called "herbalist corn on the cob". I use this herb to make tinctures, teas, and salves and also to add to salads (it tastes like spinach).

My dad gets seasonal allergies and once my six year old saw his eye swelling shut from an allergic reaction. He picked up a few plantain leaves, handed them to my dad and said "eat this Poppy, it will make you all better!" My Dad thought this was adorable so he humoured the little guy and chewed and swallowed. A half hour later I asked my dad if he took a Claritin and he said no, just the leaves he was told to eat. His eye looked totally normal, the itching and swelling we're gone!

I have also used a cooled and carefully strained plantain and calendula tea to treat crusty, goopy newborn eyes with great success.

Warm plantain, calendula and chamomile tea in my peri bottle made a great wash for healing my sore perineum after birth.  I have also used this blend topically to treat yeast infections.  I wet the herbs with boiling water to make a mash/poultice, spread it on a breast pad (for thrush on nipples), cooled just until tolerable and applied.  I reapplied whenever I went to the bathroom, and discontinued treatment when I felt better.  The tea did not harm my nursing babe, but I did rinse the mash off first  if baby wasn't old enough to eat salad ;-)  I love Plantain!

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