Hello! I would like to know your feelings on probiotics for babies.
Some background: I have been having chronic yeast infections since I was about ten years old. In the last decade it seems like I get one nearly every month just after ovulation. I've given up on medications- what's the point? They take 2 weeks to cure and by then the symptoms generally go away on their own with the start of a new cycle. About 15 years ago I moved into a much healthier diet and try to eat whole foods as much as possible. I avoid (again- as much as I can) white flour& sugar and rarely eat any processed foods of any kind. I've had good success with boric acid to treat flare- ups. I take acidophilus every day....and still I get these damn things! It's very frustrating when I am surrounded by women stuffing their faces with cookies and pastries every day who never get them! I'm sure I have a deeply entrenched systemic thing going on.
I had a baby in March. I didn't know I had a yeast infection when he was born, but must have as he got thrush almost immediately. He also had bad gas from the beginning, too. He screamed with colic til about 4 months. He also spit up buckets daily til just recently- and he still does a little.
Now he's generally happy but still has the WORST gas I've ever seen! It doesn't seem to pain him generally like before, but it is making it hard for him to get enough sleep. He wakes crying every hour or two at night sometimes and he either has a giant grown man sized fart and goes back to sleep or I'll pick him up and he has a big belch. It's worse when he tries to nap during the day because the gas bubble wakes him up after only 20 minutes or so and then he doesn't want to go back to sleep so he's often overtired. He farts so often and so loud & long- you'd swear there was a big burly trucker sitting there and not an 8 month old baby! And then there is the fact that since I am always getting yeast infections, he keeps getting thrush too- at least I assume so- he never gets big white patches in his mouth, but I get itchy nipples and it hurts to nurse and pump sometimes.
I am currently taking Udo's probiotics. I started on the 70 billion or whatever and am currently taking the 30 billion at least twice a day. I also bought the infant probiotic powder to maybe try but I'd like an expert opinion. Is he getting any through my breast milk? (He still nurses almost exclusively- we've tried introducing solids in the last 2 months and he is not even a little interested) Would they even help with this? I've read that they could but my husband is leery of any kind of supplement for him. Is it possible that I actually passed on my horrific candidiasis problem to him???? Any thoughts on what we can do about that?! Obviously I can't do any big drug treatments while breastfeeding- which I want to continue as long as possible. I know it would help if I cut out ALL carbohydrates of any kind (which I did for about 2 weeks when this first happened after he was born), but that is more difficult now that I'm back to work full time and am always in such a rush. Also last time I dropped so much weight so fast- he started looking ill and I was afraid he was getting all the toxins from my stored fat dumped into his breast milk.
Sorry, this has turned into a novella with more than one actual question to boot.......
Yes, it’s not well understood but your hormone balance can certainly influence your susceptibility to yeast takeover. You started having yeast infections at the age you started making more estrogen. Ovulation is the peak of estrogen in your cycle. Estrogen dominance is a growing state for “modern” women, encouraged by estrogenic pesticides and plasticizers that pervade our environment, along with other causes. Some find that using a little bio-identical progesterone cream from the healthfood store, for the first 14 or 21 days of their cycle helps to balance the estrogen dominance and reduce many symptoms. Some have found that using just a little of the over-the-counter anti-fungal cream externally when needed gives some nice symptomatic relief. Some use vinegar douches and some use baking soda. It certainly depends upon your own physiology as to which you’d respond to better. You’re finding help with boric acid – another good douche. Some use the probiotics internally, or an unsweetened yogurt internally. You’re right that better diet helps while some women seem to be able to eat anything without repercussion. Well, I don’t at all want to be mean but most of those donut-downers will pay at some point, in some fashion. You can only live longer for being “forced” to follow a healthier diet. Some claim to relieve their yeast only through elimination of sugar but many others conquer bad yeast problems while still taking in some sugars in moderation. It’s a very multi-factorial problem and you just need to find a few links to break.
You don’t necessarily need to have had a yeast “infection” at birth. This is a natural flora that your baby would naturally be exposed to anyway. Your susceptibility to overgrowth of yeast just did neither of you any good. Babies are quite easily vulnerable to yeast overgrowth. Now we can’t be blaming yeast on high estrogens as breastfeeding is a very low estrogen situation and your son’s level is certainly low. As I said, it’s a very multi-factorial problem.
Yeast will make inroads in your nipples and other tissues and convert them to be more favorable to their continued habitation. Nipple thrush can be terribly irritating. Some do well applying a dilution of gentian violet while others respond well to little topical applications of over-the-counter Nystatin. The Nystatin works for those who develop secondary bacterial infections along with the yeast, which is rather common.
Your son’s gas could be sensitivity to foods in your diet but it sounds more possibly like an imbalance of intake of foremilk and hindmilk. Sometimes babies feed in frequent spurts if yeast in their mouth is bothering them, or it may just be their way. This can lead to gas from taking in excess lactose. Irritability from the gas and from thrush in baby’s mouth can lead him to nurse a little roughly too, keeping the nipples irritated and vulnerable to yeast. It can all become a vicious cycle.
The foremilk, or the first milk that comes from your breasts in a feeding, is high in the milk sugar lactose. The last milk to come out is higher in fat and lower in lactose. Lactation specialists find that a baby that takes frequent, short meals at the breast may end up with more lactose than their system is able to digest and thus this sugar ferments in the bowels, causing gas. In this case, a mom is encouraged to keep the baby from switching sides during a feeding, and to feed for longer at a time so they take in the more-filling, low-lactose hindmilk. You might try some distraction techniques to reduce some of the frequency of your son’s feeding so he’ll be hungrier when he feeds.
Yes, your baby obtains probiotics through your breastmilk and when you take supplemental probiotics, he gets more of them through your milk. Many choose to give probiotics directly to baby as well. It’s worth a try. Occasionally it doesn’t go so well so one just stops it then.
There are some enzyme supplements designed for treating yeast that you could ask for in your healthfood store. They’re quite expensive but they work for some. Candex is an example of one.
Yeast can become so well ingrained that it’s nearly impossible to eliminate when it’s affecting multiple body areas and being shared back and forth between two people. I know moms who have finally resolved the situation with prescription anti-fungal drugs. They’re certainly not a first choice but they’re considered safe enough for baby that they’re often prescribed directly for baby. If you were to take the medication, the small amounts that pass on to your son will help treat him as well. In fact, it’s pretty futile to try to treat only one when it’s a shared problem but I think you could consider passage through your milk as your baby’s dose. I’d be personally more afraid of these drugs the younger the baby, just on principle I guess, but at 8 months I’d give it a try if that’s what it’s going to take. They give these medications to premature infants sometimes without finding any disabling results. Be forewarned, I’ve seen moms explode into bacterial mastitis when taking anti-fungals and only resolve the whole situation with a combo of anti-fungals and antibiotics. Yes, it sounds like a lot but it could be the end of a lot of distress. Antibiotics all vary but studies tend to suggest that your baby obtains only 1% of the dosage through your milk as you yourself are receiving.
I can’t imagine how starting solids could help a baby with yeast. Follow his lead and your own intuition there.
Linda F. Palmer, DC
"The Baby Bond"