Nov 13, 2010  •  In Baby, Claire, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal

Trying to Do What’s Best

Claire has had thrush on and off for about a month now, (I don’t know why doctors prescribe Nystatin when it only works in about 50% of thrush cases) and it looks like it’s spread to my boobs too.

So now I am battling both thrush and mastitis.

Perhaps I had thrush first which caused the mastitis? Or did my weakened immune system from the mastitis help the thrush thrive in my breasts?

Either way, I’m friggin exhausted, in pain all the time, and I can barely hold my own baby due to anything even remotely brushing against my nipples or right breast causing red, hot searing pain throughout my chest.

Yesterday I got a bottle of grapefruit seed extract oil and have been treating both Claire’s mouth and my nipples with the method described here. I can already see an improvement to Claire’s tongue overnight (a PSA to all mothers who are dealing with thrush: skip the Nystatin and go straight to grapefruit seed extract!), but I am still experiencing pain in my nipples and through my breasts whenever they are drained.

As for the mastitis, the antibiotics that the doctor prescribed have lowered my fever, but my right breast still remains a bit warmer than the left and the painful lump remains.

Want to hear something funny? The antibiotics, which kill all bacteria — good or bad, are supposed to keep me at a higher risk for thrush. It’s like a fun, vicious cycle!


Between these two infections, all the trouble I have had breastfeeding in the first few weeks of Claire’s life, the side effects I continue to experience from breastfeeding, and — this is a new one — discovering recently that my breast milk seems to give Claire horrible gas (no matter my diet) while she is fine whenever she drinks formula, I am so ready to throw in the towel and quit. I want to wean now.

But then I see ads like this and it makes me feel horribly guilty for even considering quitting:


It’s only been six weeks. Please tell me that it will get better.

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28 Responses to “Trying to Do What’s Best”

  1. You need to do what is best for you and your sanity, and if that doesn't include breast feeding, then it's NOT a bad thing if you stop! Advertisements like the one you posted are designed solely to scare you — if you look at the actual facts, studies like that don't look at "all other things equal" (of course not, because then there would be no difference, and what's so scary about saying that formula fed children are 0.5% more likely to die in the first year?) That statistic includes abandoned children and those given up for adoption without prior arrangements, children who cannot be breast fed because their mothers are continuing to abuse drugs and alcohol, children who were not wanted and their mothers won't give up the time to try breastfeeding (and are thus prone to other forms of neglect), and particularly, worldwide statistics in which unclean water is mixed with formula in 3rd world countries, introducing the baby to a host of dangerous organisms. But your daughter, raised in a loving home with parents who look after her every need, will provide her with proper medical care, and only use appropriate water for formula, have nothing to worry about. Do what is best for YOU — walking around miserable and in pain isn't going to make you happier or a better mother!

  2. Rachel says:

    I've been hiding on your blog for quite awhile now… and just wanted to tell you "man, that sucks." Everyone says it gets better–I hope it does for you! But I think it just doesn't work out for some people and no one should judge you for what you decide. But I think it will get better. 🙂 Praying for you.

  3. Donna says:

    You always end up doing what's best for you. Sure, I breast-pumped for 5-6 months but it was because I was cheap and was trying to save money. Nothing wrong with formula fed. My mother had five children – two breastfed and one of us died. And the other three was formula fed and all three of them are fine.

    Don't let the guilt get to you. You do what's best for you and honestly, if stopping breastfeeding allows you to actually ENJOY Claire more, then, maybe that's the next step.

  4. jeungjeung says:

    I hear ya. My daughter is a little older then Claire and guess what. I cheat. Maddie gets half boob and half formula. and I'm totally fine with this. Less pressure on me and my breast and I no Maddie will be full. Pleaded don't put too much pressure on yourself. You need to be well rested and happy to take care of Claire.

  5. Jessica says:

    That ad has to be aimed at moms who don't consider breastfeeding – not those who are having trouble. I know it's tough to ignore, but try to dismiss that kind of sensationalist ad. Who put that out? I hope you and Claire are doing better, whatever you do, soon.

  6. Anna says:

    I agree with Jessica, that ad is aimed at totally different mothers (some women smoke and drink while pregnant and they need to see that kind of ads) . You are really dedicated and always doing your best – I'm sure you and Claire will be fine. Best of luck with everything.

  7. Felicia says:

    It DOES get better. Your body is still learning how to breastfeed. I say stick with it until she is 12 weeks, and if you still are not enjoying it, quit. It took almost 3.5 months before everything settled down for me (I hear that's normal), and now it's totally second nature. My son is almost 6 months.

  8. Amanda says:

    Ugh. That ad is just awful. It's using correlation to suggest causation, which is an egregious logical fallacy. Feeding should be a positive experience, and if the pain is impeding your bonding, don't let ads (or the judginess of others) scare you out of doing what you think is right for you and your child.

    Hang in there. You're doing a fantastic job, and your body will come around one way or another.

  9. seriously, you have to do what's right for you and Claire. forget those scare-ads. they just give you a random statistic that means nothing without the methodology behind it. It just means there's a positive relationship between formula feeding and childhood birth. It doesn't say that it causes it. Many people give babies formula and they grow up fine and healthy. just follow your heart. for what it's worth, i think you're doing a great job as a newbie mom. you just have to trust your instincts.

  10. Kit says:

    It will get better! As each day passes everything behind you will seem like a distant memory!!!!

    Look, thrush is merely a yeast infection. Either you get it in your boob or elsewhere (like you yonder like your girly parts). Eat lots of things that have lactobacillus (higher, juices/smoothies with it).

    Breastfeeding is so personal. When I started I had cracked, bleeding, on fire nipples. I cried and curled my toes in pain when my baby latched on. For SOME reason I became more committed to not letting my discomfort stop me from feeding my baby. But, see my baby LOVED being close to me. She would rest her adorable little hand on my breast she was nursing on and she would be so totally content- I just knew I couldn't bring myself to giving her the bottle because her little need was merely to be with me.

    So I stuck it out. And at 6 weeks breastfeeding improved…. And now at nearly 11 weeks life is AMAZING. She is a champ feeder, she wakes up once at night to feed and goes straight back to sleep. My boobs are healed and I enjoy breastfeeding her now.

    When you are tired, exhausted & boobs in pain life sucks. It's hard to envision anything better. But it does get better. It really does. Challenges are always going to be present as we learn to be new parents. Sometimes there is a different way to do something to make life easier. But like emily Dickinson said 'you never know how tall you are until you are called to rise.'

    Do what you can to be content with your decision to breastfeed or not. Don't let anyone influence you because only you can decide if you want to continue. But it got better for me. I hung in there. And I so glad I did! I am so amazed and proud of myself for having survived the first 6 weeks. They are hard! It's such a shock losing sleep, recuperating from labor, caring for yourself and a new baby!

    Hugs!!! Whatever you decide you did with the best of intentions for you and your baby! You'll get through this!

  11. Kit says:

    Disregard typos! I was nursing and typing on my iPhone!

  12. Heidi says:

    I don't have a child but that sounds awful 🙁 I have however, had thrush after an awful case of strep throat and a bad reaction to the anti-biotics.

    Eat lots of yogurt (with live bacteria in it – acidophillus is what you're looking for as an active ingredient), and take priobiots – same name acidophillus (pardon my bad spelling) I take it whenever i'm on an antibiotic, it's sold near the vitamins, you may want to ask your doctor about it since you're breastfeeding and all but that usually keeps any sort of yeast infection at bay when i'm on antibiotics :/

    good luck with everything and i second what everyone else said, don't let the guilt get to you, do whats best for you and Claire, that ad is ridiculous and entirely unnecessary. Do what's best for YOU.

  13. Meg says:

    What the hell? That add is so incredibly offensive – to mothers who can't breastfeed, for mothers who choose not to breastfeed, to mothers who have lost a child and to people who were formula fed (like me, my brother, my mother….and a few generations of us). Yowza.

    Hang in there. Your posts about Claire bring me a lot of hope – because you offer such a realistic view of motherhood. It's not all rainbows and butterfly kisses, and it's way better for me to go into considering motherhood knowing it.

  14. Been there…. and my only advice (like many have told me) do what you feel is right for you and your baby. I had trouble breastfeeding : Mavi only wanted one boob, and then the strike happened… and at first I was scared and felt bad giving him formula… but since he's been having formula… i feel so liberated and I don't regret it one bit.
    Good luck!

  15. Eek565 says:

    Hang in there girl! In my experience the first few months were the hardest. But I haven't been through all the infections you have. Ugh. It sounds completely exhausting.

    Like you, I had to cut out all cruciferous veggies, and chocolate before I could figure out what was causing my little one gas. He finally got less gassy and spit up less.

    You are making a tremendous sacrifice for your daughter by all that you are doing to breastfeed her. In my opinion, it is so worth it! I really encourage you to stick with it. You already know what a good thing breastfeeding is for Claire. That is why you're still doing it. Listen to your gut. It's telling you what you're doing is right!

    Every day will get a little bit easier. Still praying for you!!

  16. Katie F. says:

    What is best for your baby, is what is best for your family! Although I firmly believe that breastfeeding was the best option for myself, I struggled for the last 12 months with it. Now that my son will be turning a year next week, I have decided that I am DONE with breastfeeding for now. No one tells you just how truly difficult it is, and how it will continue to be a struggle for as long as you do it.

    There is NOTHING wrong with feeding your baby formula — nothing at all. You are dealing with a heck of a lot, and giving yourself a break is what you need. Claire is a healthy, extremely loved child, and by providing her with nutrition, in whatever form it comes in, is what she needs to flourish. Do not beat yourself up over this, it will get better.

    Some mothers don't even try to nurse their child, and you gave it every effort. Now, go and rest, and let someone else feed the baby. By putting Claire on formula, you are giving that option to all that love her, and she gets to bond with everyone. It's a win-win situation.

  17. 1st Time Mom says:

    I've been following your blog for a while. As a fellow first time mum, I feel for you. I had mastitis too, three times at least and in both breasts. My nipples were sore from the sucking too so I nearly gave up, even my husband who is a medical doctor asked me to stop, seeing how I was suffering. But I had a stubborn streak and wanted to breastfeed, so I endured the pain, it did get better only after about 2 months and breastfeeding has not been much of a problem. But I know this may not be the case for everyone. My baby is 5 months now.
    For the lumps in my breasts, I went too see a lactation consultant who helped to massage the lump and squeeze out milk using hands to relieve the pain. You can use a pump too, but hands are more efficient once you get the hang of it. She taught my husband how to massage for me at home as well. And now my husband recommends this technique of hand pumping and massaging to breastfeeding mothers with mastitis. And cold cabbage leaves help too.
    If you are afraid of antibiotics, take raw garlic cloves, at least 3-4 cloves a day, 6-8 is better. It helped in my case. I am also taking moringa tablets as a supplement to keep in good health.
    Each person is different, so at the end of the day, you just have to decide what is best for you and your baby, regardless of what other people say. If you don't agree with one person, find someone else who will support you in your decision.

  18. Jamie says:

    I am glad one of the moms recommended a lactation consultant – they are very helpful. I breastfeed all 4 of my children until they were on table food. I can say the first 6-8 weeks are the worst. In the long run breastfeeding is convenient, cheap and after a while very rewarding. I always came to the end of our breastfeeding days very sad and not wanting the experience to end. I just thought it might be helpful to hear about the possiblity of better days to come. However, please do not feel pressure from me or anyone else – it is a choice you need to make. Make the choice that will allow you to enjoy your role as mother and enjoy your daughter. I am sorry this has been such a hard experience for you.

  19. Everything Disgruntled Julie said, x2. I'm convinced a lot of the benefits of breastfeeding are actually benefits that come from holding your baby close, skin to skin, and making eye contact — not from the actual form of milk that goes into their mouths. You will give that kind of love and attention to Little C no matter what she drinks.

    This topic raises so many strong feelings from both sides, and the only "best" choice is the one that feels right for you. But just wanted to throw in my experience that I thought the world was ending when I had to give up trying to breastfeed … and 4 weeks later I couldn't even remember what the fuss had been about. In the grand scheme of raising your child, that one decision is not as important as anyone makes it out to be!

  20. Bonnie says:

    That ad is ridiculous. My brother and I were both formula-fed and are healthy, intelligent, and still alive and kicking.

    I know PLENTY of moms (obv, including my own) who could not or didn't breastfeed for many reasons. It's not right for everyone.

  21. jess says:

    That add is absolutely horrible! I had a premie, and therefore she was unable to latch on. I had horrible lactation consultants in the hospital, and they completely messed up my supply from the start. I struggled for two and a half months to get my baby to latch on because of social pressure telling me that it was the right thing to do. Eventually she did latch on, but my supply was really low. I had to supplement with formula. Throughout al of this, I put myself through agonizing emotional distress. I would only sleep for about three hourse a day since i was on the cycle of trying to nurse for 30 min, then bottle feeing for 30 minutes, pumping for 30 minuites, then changing diapers/taking care of baby for about 60 min. When that time was up, I would have to start all over again. Mean while, I was continuaaly beating myself up becuase it just was not working, and since that is "what good moms do", I must not have been performing like a good mom. many times (in fact most) I found myself crying though a nursing (attempt) session and pumping. It was the opposite of bonding with my baby.

    Some people cannot nurse, or they don't have a large enough milk supply. It is not their fault. Showing them adds like that only perpetuates the false notion that formula fed babaies have mothers that don't care about them, evil mothers. I know many intelligent, healthy adults (weith strong imune systems) that did not get breast fed for an extended amount of time or at all. I wish that I could relay this message to the people that created that add.

  22. Tina C. says:

    Ignore those ads. Plenty of babies are formula fed and they're JUST FINE. You need to do what's best for you & your baby and if that means switching to formula, so be it.

    Alternatively, what about cutting down your pumping and just supplementing breast milk a couple of feedings a day and the rest of the time doing formula? then maybe you won't feel so guilty about formula feeding because she'll be getting at least some of your milk a day?

    And as someone who had mastitis: it gets better – it took me somewhere around 5-7 days before the hot spot went away and the soreness went down.

  23. Andy says:

    Breast feeding is better, but if you do take a break just make sure the formula does NOT contain soy of any kind, either fiber, lethicin, oil, etc., soy is toxic, not food for humans & a known endrocriine, immune system & fertility disruptor. See for info re soy & breastfeeding.

    Since you already have thrush, the breast lumps may be ascomycete sac fungus or also just infected or swollen milk glands. Nystatin is a good, safe & usually effective antifungal, but it makes no sense to take an anti fungal & an antibiotic at the same time, they should be taken separately, the anti bio first, then the antifungal & probiotics to restore the intestinal flora as antiboitics FEED fungal infections, certain types of fungus eat anti bios like candy. See Doug Kaufmann's anti fungal diet & infro at or do a google search for anti fungal diet. Other good natural anti fungals include pao d'arco, tee tree oil, olive leaf extract, oregano oil, etc. & can be taken daily, just google natural antifungals

    You might also consider temporarily either cutting or at least SERIOUSLY reducing grains & carbs from your diet as they contribute to exhaustion, you NEED good proteins & fats! Fungus also feeds on the sugars in grains & carbs, grains, peanuts & peanut butters are commonly contaminated with various types of fungus ( fungi) and if you are a big carb eater it may also be how they got into your system. They can also enter through nasal passages from breathing airborne fungus containing dust or from breathing spores from contaminated nuts, grains & foods.

    For the breast soreness try massaging coconut oil directly onto the breasts, many ladies apply it liberally to their skin after showering, & then their cats lick their legs because the cats are deficient in good fatty acids in their diets too & need the essential fats. Coconut oil is not an essential fatty acid, but it does contain around 50% lauric acid, also myristic, capric & caprillic fatty acids which are all good & POWERFUL natural antifungals.

    If you do cut carbs from your diet you'be be subsisting mostly on proteins & good fats, so also try to eat or mix 1 tablespoon of coconut oil with your meals, the coconut oil is good fat & goes straight to your liver & is used for energy. Remember to give some to the kid too. EFA's are VITAL for good nutrition, health & immune system strength, so do a little reading on those too.

    Good luck & good health to you & yours.

  24. Andy says:

    OH! Forgot to add this, Dr. Ohira's probiotics are VERY good, if not the best, & these guys price is the best too, very hard to beat.

  25. LHR says:

    that ad is terrible. you will not kill your child b/c you give them formula.

    boob = no warming or washing bottles in the middle of the night. that alone makes me wish i could have bf'ed longer. not to say that weaning was extremely liberating.

    having a baby is the beginning of the greatest and longest science experiment of your life.

  26. Andy says:

    Breast is DEFINITELY best, don't let those ignorant & uninformed of the facts dissuade or discourage you. Any word that ends with -itis means inflammation, as in bursitis, arthritis, tendinitis, gingivitis & even mastitis, and indicates a deficiency of inflammation modulating essential fatty acids in the diet which also causes a weakened & depressed immune system & function, which in turn exposes one to a whole host of other related problems, including fungal infections. under IX. FATS FOR THE BRAIN

    "In the last third of pregnancy, and in the first four months after birth, rapid brain growth in the human infant requires large amounts of omega−3 and omega−6 essential fatty acids. Human milk contains (in total fatty acids by weight) 12% linoleic acid (omega 6), 0.5% alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3), 0.6% arachidonic acid (omega 6) and 0.3% DHA (derived from omega 3) # [*45]. Infant formulas frequently have not contained arachidonic acid or DHA. One study showed that by (or just before) age 8, children who had been breast-fed as infants had an 8.3-point IQ advantage over children who had received formula [*46]. The study corrected for the education and social class of the mother.

    Support for the idea that DHA is critical for brain development came from an experiment which studied the effects of adding DHA (in the form of fish oil) to infant formula. At both 16 and 30 weeks of age the breast-fed and supplement-formula-fed infants showed significantly better visual acuity than the placebo-formula-fed infants [*47]. Arachidonic acid supplementation is also needed because DHA supplementation given alone lowers arachidonic acid levels [*48] and because arachidonic acid is essential for growth [*49,*50]. The lipoxygenase eicosanoids of arachidonic acid contribute to the ability of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) to increase neurite outgrowth [*51]. Deficiency of arachidonic acid during brain development is less reversible than deficiency of DHA [*6]. Evidently an infant's desaturase and elongase enzymes are not fully developed because no amount of alpha-linolenic acid supplement can provide enough DHA for neural development [*52]. More recent reviews have firmly recommended the inclusion of arachidonic acid and DHA in the formula of premature babies [*53]."

    The best way to ensure your baby is getting enough of the right EFA's is for YOU to get them in your diet & pass them on via your breast milk. The best form of EFA's to take are the base parent oils containing omega 6 Linoleic Acid & omega 3 Alpha Linolenic Acid since the body can & will make ALL the required sub derivative forms such as CLA, GLA, & even the EPA & DHA found in fish oil caps. The body, however, will only make the required amounts & only as needed, so no good reason to supplement with potentially harmful high levels of fish oils which are ONLY the derivatives of omega 3 ALA oils anyway.

    I have been taking 2- 1300 mg. omega 6 evening primrose oil gel caps (Royal Brittany) & 1- 1300 mg. omega 3 flax oil cap (Nature's Way) as my EFA supplementation formula & I find I have a lot less inflammation related shoulder pain from 30 years of construction, & increased energy too, but some of that may also be due to the 1 tablespoon of coconut oil I take with meals 3 times a day, but it's good fat also.

    Hang in there.

  27. Andy says:

    If you haven't done so already, you ABSOLUTELY MUST purge your cupboards, diet & lives of all commercial, store bought liquid vegetable poly cooking oils & ALL processed & manufactured foods that are made with & contain hydrogenated, partial hydrogenated oils & trans fats. Turns out that the use of these oils in manufactured foods is what causes tumors, cancers, heart disease & chronic inflammation, & in combination with a high carb diet contributes to the high diabetes rates everywhere these toxic oils are used. One must also be wary of eating with friends & family that do not know this & have not yet cleaned these toxic oils out of their homes & lives as well.

    The increasing use of these toxic oils closely correlates with the increasing U.S. disease rates since these oils were first introduced into the commercial food supply beginning in the early 1900's. scroll down for more

    Switch to coconut oil, butter, organic beef tallow & pork lard for cooking, frying & deep frying, DO NOT use olive oils for cooking as ANY poly oil can be made toxic by heating them which causes the formation of free radicals that cause impaired & oxidized body cholesterols. scroll down to paragraph 3, Heat is a major factor…

  28. Geek in Heels says:

    @Andy — As much as I appreciate all your advice, I'm afraid that I cannot follow it. I love carbs too much (I'm Asian and rice is an integral part of my diet) and I will have my occasional junk food fix. In addition, my family, nor I, do not want to make a DRASTIC dietary change just for the baby when our diet is similar to what millions of Asians eat without much problems. So for now, I will stick with foods that will reduce gas, reduce refined carbs while the thrush is still present, continue taking pre-natal vitamins with DHA supplements as I have been doing since finding out I was pregnant, and pump and dump any milk after I have had any food that may be harmful to the baby (such as alcohol).

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