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How to Identify and Treat Oral Thrush in Babies

How to Identify and Treat Oral Thrush While Breastfeeding 

I remember nursing my six week old baby Ophelia, when I noticed some white spots in her mouth that didn’t seem to go away. After a bit of research, I learned that the shooting pains I had while nursing and the white spots in her mouth were both signs of thrush.

I had been battling a yeast infection throughout the last half of my pregnancy with her, and I thought I had gotten rid of it…but apparently not. It was quite an ordeal to identify and heal from this fungus, and I just wanted to share my journey of what I did and what I learned along the way that helped us to finally get rid of Ophelia’s oral thrush and my nipple thrush, which essentially saved our breastfeeding relationship.

Oral Thrush in Babies

Oral thrush occurs when there is an overgrowth of the fungus Candida Albicans in the mouth.

Oral Thrush in a Baby (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Doc James, 2010)

Oral Thrush in a Baby (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Doc James, 2010)

Candida Albicans lives in the gastrointestinal tract of most adults and children as one of the microbes that helps to break down undigested food. It is only a problem when it grows out of control. This picture below is actually of a young child who had Candidiasis after taking a round of antibiotics, and while not an infant with oral thrush, I think it gives a really nice image of what happens when Candida grows out of control.

A Child with Oral Candidiasis (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Doc James, 2010)

A Child with Oral Candidiasis (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Doc James, 2010)

Oral thrush typically presents itself in the fourth week of a baby’s life. It is very rare in the first week of life and after 6-9 months of age. As many as 39% of infants will develop thrush in the first few months of life.

Nipple Thrush in Nursing Mothers

Because breastfeeding provides a warm, moist, sugary environment, which is precisely where Candida thrives, babies can easily pass their oral thrush to the mother’s nipples, especially if they are already cracked or sore because of a bad latch. If the thrush isn’t treated, it can pass back and forth between mother and baby.

Causes of Oral Thrush

  1. Yeast Infection During Vaginal Birth: New babies are born with a clean gastrointestinal tract void of any microbes whatsoever. Within hours of birth, however, they start to build their own gut flora through exposure to the mother’s vaginal and fecal flora during a vaginal birth, breastfeeding, and exposure to the environment. If the mother has a yeast infection during a vaginal birth, however, the yeast will be one of the first microbes entering a baby’s clean and pristine gastrointestinal tract.
  2. C-Section Birth: If a mother delivers her baby by c-section (as one-third of mothers in the U.S. do), the baby will not getting any of her vaginal or fecal flora, which helps to populate the baby’s gut with healthy microbes. This new study shows how the baby’s gut flora can be disturbed for up to 6 months after a c-section birth, and research shows how a c-section delivery leads to more pathogenic microbes (including Escherichia coli and Clostridium difficile) populating the baby’s gut. When the good microbes aren’t there first, it makes it very easy for the bad ones to take over.
  3. Antibiotics: If a mother tests positive for group B strep (which affects 25% of women), she will be given antibiotics during labor that will cross the placenta and reach the baby. Routine antibiotics are also given after a c-section (and sometimes before) to ward off infection. Antibiotics wipe out all bacteria good and bad, and when a newborn baby is having something introduced to its system that wipes out all of the bacteria before there is any, it makes it easier for something like Candida to take hold and grow out of control.
  4. Steroid Use: If a baby needed a nebulizer and inhaled corticosteroids for say, a bad case of croup, any steroids that get in the mouth can lead to oral thrush.

Signs of Oral Thrush

  1. White Patches in Baby’s Mouth: It might look like little milk spots in your baby’s mouth, but unlike milk spots, they won’t go away on their own. If you tried to scrape them off, you’ll notice that it’s actually an inflamed lesion that may bleed.
  2. Refusing to Nurse: Your baby may refuse nursing or be reluctant to nurse because its painful.
  3. Fussy Baby: Your baby may seem particularly fussy or up a lot in the night.
  4. Yeasty Diaper Rash: Sometimes a yeasty diaper rash will accompany oral thrush. Look for a diaper rash that’s red and inflamed with small blistery lesions that won’t go away with typical diaper rash treatments. I battled this with my son on and off for months. We tried the pharmacist’s recommended “magic butt paste” (which is just regular diaper rash cream mixed with Monistat) which kind of worked, but once we gave him some probiotics, the rash immediately went away and never came back again.

Signs of Thrush in Momma

  1. Painful Nursing: Nursing should not be painful. If it is, it might be a sign of thrush, especially if you’ve ruled out a bad latch. I remember Nursing Ophelia (who was two weeks old at the time) in front of my sister (who was pregnant for the first time) and she looked at me in shock and horror as I all but howled in pain as Ophelia latched on. The intense pain subsided after a bit and I just thought, well, this is part of nursing. But after I treated the thrush, the intense pain went away. (With her being my third baby, you’d think I would have known better, but I have had some sort of breastfeeding problems with all of my four children!)
  2. Shooting Pains: You may feel a deep shooting pain that occurs during or after feedings because the thrush can embed itself deep within your breast tissue.
  3. Cracked Nipples: Your nipples may also be pink or red, shiny, flaky, and/or have a rash with tiny blisters.
  4. Yeast Infection: If you have thrush, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve got a yeast infection too.

How to Cure Momma’s Thrush

  1. Limit Sugar: Thrush is caused by Candida and Candida feeds on sugar. You don’t have to give up sugar forever, but if you can get limit Candida’s food source while treating thrush (especially in the form of pure sugar and processed foods), it will be much easier to get rid of.
  2. Probiotics: Probiotics, such as lactobacillus, feed on sugar too (and prebiotics, which can be found in such foods as raw onion, garlic, and asparagus…or as a supplement), and unless they are wiped out by antibiotics or a poor diet, they will keep the Candida in check. You can get them from fermented foods such as kombucha, sauerkraut, sourdough, kimchi, keifer, and yogurt. When battling thrush, however, I suggest getting them in a stronger format as well. My favorite probiotics for treating Candida are Bio Kult Candea and Custom Probiotics.
  3. Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral miracle worker. I tried every remedy under the sun, but when I used apple cider vinegar, I was finally able to eliminate the thrush. This is what I did.
    • First, mix a solution in a peri bottle with about 2 T. of apple cider vinegar and the rest filtered water (chlorine free).
    • Then, after every breastfeeding session, squirt some onto some cotton balls and wipe your nipples, then throw those cotton balls away!
    • *If you’re pumping and/or using bottles, you have to really sterilize these components after every use. You can use apple cider vinegar, but really hot water will do the trick too.
    • In addition, wash all of your bras and anything your nipples come in contact with hot water and with apple cider vinegar added to the rinse cycle.
    • You can also mix 6 T. per gallon of water (or about 1 t. per 8 ounces) and drink throughout the day to heal from the inside out.
  4. Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is a soothing anti-fungal topical treatment. After I cleaned my nipples with apple cider vinegar, it felt really soothing and healing to dab a little coconut oil on them. You can also heal yourself from Candida from the inside out by eating it.
  5. Fresh Air: Candida can survive in oxygen, but it really thrives in dark, oxygen free areas. Going shirtless will not only feel good, but your husband/partner might get a kick out of it too! Get some sunlight on those nipples for extra measure because that also kills the fungus.
  6. *Gentian Violet: They say you can paint your nipples with Gentian Violet to get rid of thrush, but when I tried it, it caused Ophelia to go on a complete nursing strike. It was awful. I do not recommend using this on your nipples unless perhaps you plan to pump and bottle feed.
  7. *Grapefruit Seed Extract: I’ve read that you can mix Grapefruit Seed Extract with equal parts water and clean your nipples with it, much the same way that I did with the apple cider vinegar. I did not try this method, but it seems like it might work. (Read more here.)

How to Cure Baby’s Thrush

  1. Coconut Oil: If you leave some coconut oil on your nipples, your baby can get some that way. You can also dab a little coconut oil on the thrush spots.
  2. Infant Probiotic: I really like this infant probiotic. If you had to have antibiotics for any reason or delivered by c-section so your baby didn’t get any good bacteria from your vaginal tract, I would highly recommend a good probiotic supplement regardless of whether or not your baby has thrush. But if your baby does have thrush (obviously, because that’s why you’re probably reading this) this will really help your baby to populate his or her gut with beneficial bacteria that can crowd out the yeast and help to get rid of the oral thrush. You can mix a little bit with your breast milk and feed it to your baby with a dropper, and/or you can make a little mixture and paint it on the thrush spots with your finger or a q-tip.
  3. Gentian Violet: Gentian violet is an anti-fungal that can be used topically to help get rid of thrush. When Ophelia’s thrush progressed from a few white spots to her entire tongue being coated white (after I misused Grapefruit Seed Extract), I turned to Gentian Violet as a last resort. It tastes awful, it can cause your baby to have an upset tummy, and it shouldn’t be used excessively because there are claims that it can be a carcinogen (when used regularly for two years at 600 times the recommended dose…sorry mice) and lead to mouth ulcers (when not diluted), but after three days of meticulous treatment, Ophelia’s thrush was totally and completely healed. I highly recommend this as a cure for baby’s oral thrush. Here’s are a few tips for using it so that it will be effective:
    Treating Ophelia's Thrush with Gentian Violet

    Treating Ophelia’s Thrush with Gentian Violet

    • Gentian violet will stain everything purple, so put some Vaseline or Bag Balm on your baby’s lips and around her or his mouth before applying it. This will make it easier to clean up the purple drool.
    • Dress your baby in clothes that you don’t mind ruining. (This goes for you too.) I found it helpful to put a bib on Ophelia as well.
    • Get the 1% solution, and mix with equal parts water. (It is too strong if left undiluted. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it will be more effective if you don’t dilute it.)
    • Using a q-tip, paint every part of your baby’s mouth, especially the tongue. This stuff tastes awful and your baby will hate it. I found it best to paint once in the morning, maybe once in the afternoon if it wore off, and once at night. (Don’t exceed three dosages in a day.)
    • Do your best to make sure your baby doesn’t swallow any. It can lead to an upset tummy.
    • You need to do this for three full days/nights. If you miss a dosage and don’t complete the cycle, the fungus will come back stronger and be even harder to treat.
  4. *Grapefruit Seed Extract: I read a lot of articles, reviews, and blogs about Gentian Violet and grapefruit seed extract when Ophelia had thrush, and I decided to go with the grapefruit seed extract first, but it did not go so well. First of all, I made the mistake of not diluting it, so maybe it would actually work if you didn’t do this. (It should be more effective if it’s stronger, right? Not.) I painted it on the thrush spots in her mouth, and they seemed to completely go away in a day, but then the next day, there were more and more and more spots until her entire tongue was coated white. It was like in the absence of the Grapefruit Seed Extract, the fungus grew even stronger and completely took over. It was at this point that I turned to the Gentian Violet which totally worked.
  5. Nystatin: Nystatin is what your doctor will probably prescribe if you take your baby to the doctor to treat the oral thrush (which I don’t recommend unless this is your last resort). Nystatin is an oral medication that is meant to be used topically on the areas where thrush is appearing. There are claims that it’s 80% effective, but that seems a bit high to me. When Ophelia got thrush, I combed threads on the Internet (not always the most reliable sources, I know, but I like reading about personal accounts) and read time and time and time again about how mothers would go to the doctor, get Nystatin for their babies, deal with the side effects of: mouth irritation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, rash, skin irritation, and/or allergic reactions, have the first dose not work, try another dose, still not have it work, and eventually give up on breastfeeding. I actually knew someone who got thrush at the same time as I did with her new baby and she used Nystatin as a remedy. It did not work, and she ended up not being able to breastfeed anymore. Personally, I would try all of these other remedies before turning to Nystatin as an absolute last resort.

In Conclusion

Dealing with oral thrush was probably one of the toughest postpartum things I’ve ever had to deal with, and through much trial and error, I’m glad we were able to finally beat it. With baby number four, I made darn sure to get rid of my yeast infection during pregnancy so that we would not have to deal with this again, and let me tell you, prevention is a much easier path! I also enjoyed researching and learning about why pregnant women are more prone to yeast infections, and I learned some fascinating information along the way. The bottom line is that thrush is nasty nasty business and it is worth all of the effort to prevent it and get rid of not just the symptoms, but the root cause as well.

How to Get Rid of a Yeast Infection While Pregnant

10 Tips for Getting Rid of a Yeast Infection While Pregnant

If you are pregnant and have a yeast infection, put down the cake! I repeat, PUT DOWN THE CAKE! If you want to learn how too much sugar (and a lack of probiotics) creates a breeding ground for yeast infections during pregnancy, check out my blog Why Pregnant Women are More Prone to Yeast Infections. But if you’re just “itching” for a cure, read on.

After five pregnancies and plenty of yeast infections, I think I’ve finally figured out how to get rid of yeast infections while pregnant. Getting a yeast infection while pregnant is the worst because it can be painful, bothersome, and really hard to get rid of. In addition, it can lead to thrush in both you and your new baby after birth, and dealing with thrush makes having a yeast infection while pregnant seem like a walk in the park. So you really really really want to make sure your yeast infection is gone by the time you give birth.

28 weeks pregnant at a midwife appointment

28 Weeks Pregnant with Ophelia

How to Know if You Have a Yeast Infection

It’s recommended that the first time you have a yeast infection, you go to the doctor to have it properly diagnosed, but once you’ve gotten them a few times, you’ll just know. Here are the things to look for.

  • Itching
  • Soreness
  • Pain or burning during urination or sex
  • Redness
  • Swollen
  • Possibly a thick, clumpy, white discharge that has no odor and looks like cottage cheese

Bacterial vaginosis (and some sexually transmitted diseases) can have many of the same symptoms, but the bacterial vaginosis discharge will have a “fishy” odor to it. They say you’ll need antibiotics to cure it, but if you take antibiotics, it will wipe out all of your bacteria (both good and bad), and it will make your chances of getting a yeast infection EVEN WORSE. I can only imagine that going from bacterial vaginosis to a yeast infection would be no fun!

When to Try Natural Remedies

Whenever I’m pregnant, I can feel my body changing in many ways, and with each subsequent pregnancy (currently rocking #5 as I update this blog), I can feel my candida issues flare up again. I know this is because of the way my body processes sugar and other things (read more about WHY pregnant women are more prone to yeast infections here), and it’s never any fun to deal with.

I always start with all of the natural remedies first when I feel the faintest itch of a yeast infection tingling, and by doing so, I am often able to keep things at bay…but once my symptoms turn into a full blown yeast infection, then the natural remedies actually seem to make things worse.

When you think about how candida albicans works, you have to understand that first of all it is a natural part of our digestive system living in our colon helping us ferment our undigested food (i.e. prebiotics…read more about the fascinating world of digestion here), and second of all, during pregnancy it can very easily grow out of control. It is a living organism and will fight to survive, hence the reason why it grows stronger and more resilient when you start to battle it. But stay strong sister, and you can win this war!

1. Over the Counter Anti-Fungal Medication

So, if I’ve tried all of the natural preventative measures and things still progress to a full blown yeast infection, I’ll run out to the drug store and shell out the $15 for the cheapest 3 or 7-day anti-fungal treatment. Now, don’t make the same mistake that I did with my first pregnancy and get the one day treatment. You are too sensitive while pregnant to handle such intensity, and it will burn like the dickens!

Most over the counter brands will list clotrimazole or miconazole as the active ingredient. The miconazole is more specifically designed to kill fungus in the vagina and the clotrimazole is typically used for skin fungus, so I would go with that miconazole first. (This is my favorite 3-day treatment.) Then, insert the capsules/cream every day for the full amount of recommended time. Even if your symptoms go away, keep going the full three or seven days or else the fungus will come back even stronger!

Now, it’s important to note that this remedy only treats the symptoms, not the cause. So, if you were to use ONLY this treatment, it is very likely that the underlying reasons that caused the yeast infection to appear in the first place will still be in place and cause yet another yeast infection.

2. Chamomile

I recently attended a nutrition class for pregnant women and learned that chamomile is actually very good at killing candida overgrowth! It is also super safe for pregnant women and has a calming effect as well. You can drink chamomile tea or even take chamomile supplements. You might want to start here before using the over the counter medication as well.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

This is what I did during my fourth pregnancy that helped me to FINALLY get rid of my chronic and ongoing yeast infection! All of the other tips certainly help as well, but this was truly the nail in the coffin. Apple cider vinegar is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral miracle worker. It acts like a sponge and draws out germs and toxins from the surrounding tissue. It also stimulates acetolysis in which toxic wastes (like candida) are broken down and rendered harmless.

To make an apple cider vinegar rinse, take a peri bottle and fill it with about 2 T. of apple cider vinegar and the rest filtered water (chlorine free), and put it near your toilet. After you wipe (always front to back), squirt the solution on the outside of your vagina and let it air dry. (Stand in front of a fan for extra relief!) I would also do this after getting out of the shower. I continued to do this for at least a week or two after my symptoms were gone to make sure the infection was really eliminated, and this was REALLY helpful!

You can actually squirt it inside the vagina or douche with it if you want, but I would wait until the irritation is gone, however, or else it will really burn. You can also make the solution a little stronger if you’re brave enough, but if it’s too strong, it will burn even if you’re not irritated at the time.

4. Garlic

Garlic is one of nature’s greatest infection fighters. Not only does it help to stimulate the immune system, but it destroys candida (among other pathogens) and inhibits its growth.

At the first signs of a yeast infection, you can take a peeled clove of garlic and insert it into your vagina, usually at night, and then take it out the next morning. If the yeast infection is in the early stages, you might be able to kill it off this way after one or two nights. I have heard stories of this working for others, but it has just never worked very well for me…plus I don’t like how it makes my entire body smell like garlic.

I prefer instead to take these garlic supplements instead. They provide all of the benefits of garlic without giving you garlic breath! Whenever you use any natural method, you want to mix things up a bit so that the yeast doesn’t become resistant to your treatments, so I’ll typically take these garlic supplements for a few days (in the morning, 20 minutes or so after eating some food), give it a break for a few more days while using something else, and then use them again until my symptoms are gone.

5. Eat Fermented Foods

Fermented foods such as anything like sourdough, kombucha, yogurt, keifer, and sauerkraut are full of healthy probiotics (such as lactobacilli) that help to crowd out the yeast and keep it from growing out of control. I always try to eat as many of these foods as I can anyways, but especially so when I’m pregnant. I always have a jar of sourdough starter on my counter, and when I feel the mere tinglings of a yeast infection, or just as a preventative measure, I like to eat a small spoonful of the starter first thing in the morning (after a bit of food would probably be better, but I never remember that!). Recently, I had a friend make me some lacto-fermented sauerkraut, and I’ve really been enjoying that as well.

When you’re trying to get rid of a yeast infection, it’s really a balanced approach between killing the fungus and then crowding it out with good bacteria. Fermented foods are an excellent way to populate your vagina (along with your gastrointestinal tract) with good bacteria.

If you have good gut health, it’s also important to include plenty of prebiotic foods so that the probiotics will have something to feed on. Prebiotics are different kinds of fiber that we can’t digest, but that encourage beneficial species of gut flora to grow. They include dandelion greens, garlic and onions, asparagus, and chicory (found in teccino, a wonderful coffee substitute). If you have poor gut health, however, these prebiotic foods may cause stomach pains, gas, and bloating.

6. Probiotic Supplements

While fermented foods are great, sometimes you just need an extra boost, especially if you’ve recently taken a course of antibiotics that have wiped out not only the bad bacteria, but the good as well, and you need to repopulate your gut.

I have taken many different types of probiotic treatments, and these two have been my favorite. Bio Kult Candea is specifically designed to deal with candida. It has a garlic component that makes it have a bit of an odor, but it really works. Custom Probiotics come very highly recommended and work very well for eliminating yeast infections. When I have felt a yeast infection coming on, I like to alternate between these two brands and take two every morning after eating a bit of food. I have tried other probiotic supplements (such as the ones you’ll find in the grocery store) in the past and didn’t really notice much of a difference, but with these brands (and by following these other steps), my yeast infection would go away and not keep reoccurring.

*Note: With my fifth pregnancy, I added a probiotic to daily vitamin routine, and it was really helpful with preventing yeast infections.

7. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has capric acid, caprylic acid, and lauric acid that are all medium chain fatty acids that have great anti-fungal propertiesDr. Bruce Fife, a naturopathic physician and certified nutritionist and president of the Coconut Research Center in Colorado Springs, CO, explains that,

“Medium chain fatty acids penetrate cell membranes….when they’re absorbed by an organism that is not beneficial, they penetrate the cell membrane and weaken the cell, so it just disintegrates. Then white blood cells go in and gobble up the waste material.”

I love using as much coconut oil in my cooking as possible to help prevent and treat yeast infections, but you could also put a spoonful in your tea every morning, just batten down the hatches and eat a spoonful straight up, or you can take a caprylic acid capsule. Whenever I feel a yeast infection starting, I pop a few of these every morning.

8. Eliminate Sugar

Ok, so I’m hiding this one towards the end, because it sucks, but it is really THE most important step. If you are pregnant, past your 23rd week, and battling a yeast infection, you absolutely have to give up sugar (which is basically in all processed foods) to help get rid of your yeast infection for good. You can read my blog: The Real Reason Why Pregnant Women Get Yeast Infections to learn more about the science of why this is, but basically, your hormones are causing your blood sugar to sky rocket which creates an optimal breeding ground for candida. In order to really get rid of the candida, you have to reduce its food source…sugar.

Now, I’m not talking about complex carbohydrates here…you need those to fuel your body and your growing baby. I’m talking about pure sugar…Little Debbies, Laffy Taffy, Oreos, white bread, etc.

I think it’s best to eliminate sugar cold turkey. You might feel miserable at first because as the candida dies, it tries to fight it and you get these nasty die off symptoms (head aches, brain fog, fatigue), but they’ll go away after a short time, and then you will feel better than ever. When I’ve gone on a candida cleanse, this website has been really helpful in providing dietary guidelines.

Just beware that if you ever cut out ALL carbohydrates to try to completely starve the candida, it will turn into its most virulent form that can reek even more havoc on your body. You’re not trying to completely eliminate the yeast, just keep it under control. 

9. Take Care of Yourself

If you’re like me, the first trimester tiredness is just brutal, and as you enter the 2nd trimester, you might take for granted how good you feel and start to get a bit lax on the sleep. But by taking care of your body by first of all getting PLENTY of rest, your body’s immune system can work in its optimal state to help you fend off pathogens like candida. Next, it’s important to fill yourself with nutrient dense food and avoid commercial processed crap as much as you can. You are growing a human being and you need to eat…and eat well! Don’t wait until you’re starving and eat an entire box of Oreos! Plan out those meals in advance (check out my favorite recipes here), and feed yourself…and your growing baby some good food!

If you’re feeling a bit under the weather, these Pure Radiance 100% natural vitamin C capsules are AMAZING! I also like taking this Organic Liquid Prenatal Formula (I hate swallowing big bulky prenatal pills!) and this Fermented Cod Liver Oil (or this if our budget is a little tight). 

10. Let Your Vagina Breathe

Candida thrives in warm wet areas where there is no oxygen, and so in order to prevent candida from growing out of control, you want to let your vagina breathe. You can do this by wearing cotton panties like these, which are very comfortable while you’re pregnant anyways!

A big mistake I made while pregnant was wearing panty liners every day for any accidents (Watch yourself when you sneeze, you will pee a little bit!) and/or leakage, but I really think this contributed to my yeast infection problem. A better option would have been something like this or just changing my underwear more often. You’ll also want to avoid wearing super tight skinny jeans, and instead opt for something more comfortable like these. And of course, don’t sit around all day with a wet bathing suit on.

Other Remedies

  • Gentian Violet: When I was researching Gentian Violet for my oral thrush article, I came across a comment from a verified purchase on Amazon where the woman soaked tampons in Gentian Violet and inserted them for seven days and totally healed her chronic yeast infections. Gentian Violet worked wonders getting rid of my baby’s oral thrush, so I would have to say that this sounds like a pretty good idea if you’re desperate for a cure.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: I have heard a lot of positive information lately about using a hydrogen peroxide rinse to get rid of yeast infections. This makes sense since when the lactobacilli in a healthy vagina “feed” on glycogen, one of their byproducts is actually hydrogen peroxide. But when I’ve tried this remedy, I’ve found that it has no effect.

Remedies to Avoid While Pregnant

  • *Grapefruit Seed Extract: Grapefruit seed extract can be taken orally or applied topically, and in addition to killing yeast, it has vitamin A, E, and bioflavanoids. But it’s not technically recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women because it can be toxic if taken at 4,000 times the suggested dose (so I think it’s okay to use at the recommended dosage). I tried it when I was battling thrush with my little newborn baby, it only sort of worked, and it seemed to bother her, so I’m not sure about this one.
  • *Boric Acid: The link above also mentions putting some boric acid into a hydrogen peroxide douche, and while boric acid is good at treating persistent and recurring yeast infections where you may be battling a different strain of candida, it is not recommended for pregnant women.
  • *Oregano Capsules: Oregano oil is really great at preventing and treating yeast infections because it contains two very effective antimicrobial agents called carvacrol and thymol that react with the water in your bloodstream to dehydrate and kill the Candida yeast cells. Unfortunately, it increases the blood flow to the uterus which weakens the lining around the fetus, so you don’t want to take it while you’re pregnant.
  • *Oral Fluconazole: Fluconazole (or the brand name Diflucan) are both oral antifungal medications. They are processed by the liver and enter the bloodstream where they attack the fungus. but this is very hard on your liver, and if you’re pregnant, it can harm the fetus. Also, if you are taking oral birth control, it can make it less effective. (But geez louise, I hope you’re not taking birth control when you’re pregnant!) The oral medications are recommended for women that have been battling an ongoing yeast infection for a year or more.

In Conclusion

Treating any type of candida overgrowth is really a three step process.

  1. Kill the Fungus/Control the Overgrowth – You can never completely get rid of it because it’s a part of the digestive process, but you can control the overgrowth.
  2. Probiotics – Candida and probiotics both feed on the same thing…sugar, so make sure you have more probiotics in your gut rather than candida.
  3. Diet – Eliminate processed foods and sugar and instead opt for as much nutrient dense food as you can.

Treating a yeast infection while pregnant can be a very stressful and frustrating thing when you feel like no matter what you do, you can’t really get rid of it. It’s not something to be taken lightly, however, because if a baby is born vaginally when the mother has a yeast infection, it can pass the candida on to the baby, which may turn into thrush. Thrush can make breastfeeding both difficult and painful, and it is even harder to get rid of than a yeast infection during pregnancy. Read by blog: How to Identify and Deal with Oral Thrush in Babies for more information about this topic.

So, do whatever you can to completely eliminate your yeast infection during pregnancy by following the steps that make sense to you and your situation. Good Luck!

two kombucha tea jars with scobies

How to Make Kombucha

Kombucha is a beverage produced by fermenting sweet tea with a living culture of yeast and bacteria. The health benefits are numerous and may be your motivation for wanting to drink it every day, but my husband and I enjoy a bottle or two every day/night as a treat because it tastes so good and makes us feel great!

Health Benefits of Kombucha:

  1. Detoxifies Your Body – Because it is rich in enzymes and bacterial aids, it gives your pancreas and liver a break.
  2. Prevents Cancer – It is high in Glucaric acid which studies show can help prevent cancer.
  3. Prevents and Treats Arthritis – It contains glucasamines which increases synovial hyaluronic acid production that preserves the cartilage structures which prevents arthritic pain and enables connective tissue bind moisture which increases lubrication and flexibility.
  4. Aids Digestion and Gut Health – Because it is a probiotic beverage it has such benefits as improved digestion, fighting candida (which is an overgrowth of harmful yeast), mental clarity, and mood stability by basically crowding out the bad bacteria in your intestinal tract.
  5. Boosts the Immune System – It is rich in anti-oxidants which boost your immune system and energy levels.

Ok, so you’re convinced. Drinking kombucha is great, and you want to do it! But where do you get it? Well, if you’re fortunate enough to live near some eclectic health stores, you should be able to buy some off the shelf. But at $3.50 a bottle at the store or $42/case of 12 with a $28 shipping fee from Amazon, you might just be better off making it yourself! It sounds a little daunting to set up, but once you get a system going, it’s easy to maintain and you can tailor your kombucha to your specific liking. Here’s how we do it.

Ingredients/Materials

  • Brewing Jars – You will need glass jars for the first fermentation. I like doing two jars at a time for a continuous brew for both my husband and I who have different brews, so we use a total of four gallon sized jars. This is the perfect system that allows each of us to drink one (if not two) bottles a day. I like to find glass iced tea jars with a spigot during the summer when they are on sale at our local grocery store for like $6.99. This is the best I could find on Amazon, but it’s 2 gallons. Or you can use just a straight up plain glass gallon size jar.
  • Tea Pot – I picked up my tea pot at a thrift store ages ago and I love it’s wide mouth that enables me to add my loose leaf tea and sugar. You can find something similar on Amazon, or just make do with what you have.
  • Strainer – After brewing your loose leaf tea, you’ll want to strain it as you pour it into your container with something like these.
  • Filtered Water – If you’re lucky enough to have well water, great! Use that. We have city water with no flouride (Yeah!) so we just get a basic filter that we add to our kitchen water spout. But while flouride isn’t good for you, it won’t really affect your brew (just your health). What you DO really want to watch our for is the chlorine. Chlorine may kill bad bacteria, but it also kills good bacteria, and it can kill your scoby. Chlorine is a gas and it will evaporate if you leave your water to sit out for 24 hours. You can also boil your water for 10 minutes to do the trick.
  • Bottles – If you choose to do a second ferment (which I highly recommend because it creates a bubbly and slightly alcoholic – like less than a nonalcoholic beer, but still nice – beverage) then you’ll need a glass jar that can be sealed tightly. While kind of expensive, I really like using these bottles. I purchased 2 cases because I brew two gallon sized jars for both my husband and I (four all together) and this number of bottles works well with that. You can also just pour the kombucha directly from the spigot and drink it that way too. This bottle brush is great for cleaning out the bottles.
  • Tea – I started out buying tea from the grocery store, but there so many chemical contaminants in commercial tea that I find it’s better (and cheaper) to buy bulk organic tea on Amazon. There are many different types of tea to get, but it’s best to start with black tea to activate your kombucha. This is what I use to brew my husband’s kombucha. Once it gets going, you can choose different kinds of tea based on your preferences. I seem to be constantly pregnant around here, and with red raspberry leaf tea having so many wonderful benefits and me trying to avoid caffeine, that’s what I brew with.
  • Sugar – If you’ve got the money, go ahead and buy the organic sugar, but being on a budget, I just get the cheapest kind from our local grocery store. I go through one 10 pound bag of sugar about once every six weeks or so.
  • Scoby (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast)- A scoby is the mushroom looking culture made up of bacteria and yeast that makes kombucha. The best thing to do is to find a friend who brews kombucha and to get one of their scobies. The scoby, or “mother” as it is so creepily called (Don’t tell your friends, “I kept my mother in a dark closet with filtered water, but she still died,” or you’ll really freak them out!) can be purchased online as well.

Directions

  1. Brew the Tea – Boil a kettle of water and add a handful of the loose leaf tea (roughly the equivalent of 8 tea bags) and one cup of sugar per gallon size batch. When we encounter times when our kombucha turns out too vinegary (which means that all of the sugar has been consumed and it starts to lose it’s health benefits and also that we’re not drinking it fast enough) I’ll add an extra half a cup (or more as needed) of sugar.

    gunpowder green tea, sugar, red raspberry leaf tea, and a tea pot

    Ingredients for Making the Kombucha Tea

  2. Let it Sit – The tea needs to steep and you don’t want to add hot water to your scoby because it can kill it, so let it sit for a bit (an hour?). Most times, I just brew the tea the night before and set it aside. You can also remove the scoby, add cold filtered water, add your hot water, make sure the temperature is just luke warm, and then add your scoby back in if you’re in a time crunch.
  3. Bottling – If you’ve got your continuous batch going, this is when you’d pour your fermented kombucha into bottles. I’ll talk more about bottling in step #8.
  4. Scoby and Liquid – If you get a scoby online or from a friend, it should come with about a cup of liquid from it’s original brine. If you’re brewing a continuous batch, you’ll want to leave at least a cup of the fermented kombucha in your glass jar. So, you should have a gallon size glass jar (spigot or not) with a scoby and one cup of kombucha.
  5. Add the Tea and Water – Pour in your tea. This is where I use a mesh filter to filter out my loose leaf tea. Then fill to the top with filtered water.
  6. Cover – The kombucha needs to breathe, so cover it with a folded paper towel or cheese cloth and put a rubber band over it to keep it sealed up. This will help to keep out fruit flies who just LOVE to lay eggs and produce maggots in your lovely scoby. (If you do have a problem with fruit flies, I have found it helpful to make a fruit fly trap by putting apple cider vinegar, soap, and a bit of water in a mason jar, covering it with plastic wrap and a rubber band, and poking holes in it so that the fruit flies fly in, but can’t fly out, get trapped and drown. Then put this near your kombucha jars.)

    kombucha tea jar with paper towel and rubber band

    Kombucha Tea Jar

  7. Store in a Dark Place – Now the kombucha needs to “brew” for 5-7 days. It does best in a dark place where it won’t get disturbed. We brew four gallon sized jars in a rotational schedule at once, so I’ve set aside a nice cupboard just for them. You’ll want to check the scobies periodically to make sure they haven’t risen out of the kombucha. If so, just push it back down.

    four kombucha tea jars ready for fermentation in a cupboard

    Storing the Kombucha Tea Jars for Fermentation

  8. Bottling – So after your gallon sized jar has fermented for about a week, you can taste test it to see if it is ready to bottle. The scoby essentially “eats” the sugar, but if the sugar is completely gone it will taste vinegary. If it gets too vinegary, it will start to lose its health benefits. If this is happening, you’ll want to bottle your kombucha sooner or add more sugar. If it tastes super sweet and not very carbonated, you might want to leave it to ferment for a few more days. These batches of kombucha below are ready to go!
    two kombucha jars with scobies

    Two Kombucha Jars with Scobies

    When bottling, you can pour right from the spigot into the bottle. Now, for some reason, I find that some spigots work better than others, so with some batches, I put a pouring lid on my glass jar and use a funnel to pour the kombucha into bottles. (You would also do this if you’re just using glass mason jars that don’t have spigots.)

    Lid and Funnel for Pouring Kombucha

    Lid and Funnel for Pouring Kombucha

    You just want to leave about an inch or so for the carbonation to accumulate. The bottling is where the second fermentation happens, and it takes another 5-7 days.

  9. *Cleaning Your Glass Jars – You should be fine just reusing the same jars over and over again for awhile, but if you notice an accumulation of sediment (which is just a build up of the extra yeast) you might want to clean your jars out. For this, I remove the scoby, but it in a glass bowl, and cover it with a cup of kombucha. When cleaning out the glass jar, don’t use soap, just hot water and a scrub brush. You can rinse with white vinegar if you’re extra picky, although I never do. Then, put everything back in.
  10. Store the Bottles – Once you seal up your bottles, you’ll want to store them for the second fermentation in a dark place where they will be undisturbed for another 5-7 days. Since my husband and I drink two different brews, I label his bottles “Scott”. If I have old bottles in here by the time I put new ones in, I move the old ones to the center so that they will get used first.

    storing kombucha in a cupboard

    Storing Kombucha Bottles in a Cupboard

  11. Move to the Refrigerator – Once you put the bottles in the refrigerator, it will stop the second fermentation process, so make sure they have been allowed enough time for this. I like to keep two bottles for both my husband and I in the door of the refrigerator at all times.
  12. Store Your Empties – I know this might not really seem like part of the process, but the more you can create a streamlined system that everybody is aware of, the easier it will be to maintain the entire process. We have decided that it’s easiest to store the used bottles under the sink until it is time to brew again. To clean the bottles out, we just rinse them out with hot water. (Stay away from the soap.)

    empty kombucha bottles

    We Store Our Empty Bottles Under the Sink

  13. Enjoy! – Some people like to drink a kombucha first thing in the morning, others enjoy one after a nice meal, and some may enjoy sipping on one throughout the day. I personally enjoy saving it until the end of the day and savoring it with a handful of dark chocolate chips. Due to its slightly alcoholic nature, I feel like it helps me to relax at the end of the day and has been a good substitute for keeping alcohol in our home (which we have eliminated for several reasons, but that’s a whole other blog post!).
  14. Warning – If you brew it right, your kombucha bottles will form their own little mothers. We call this the “goober”. You might be tempted to spit it out, but it is literally the best part of the kombucha and FULL of probiotics. So, bottom’s up!
  15. Caution – If you are just starting to drink kombucha for the first time, go slow and watch how it effects you. It is detoxifying your body, so you’ll want to beware of that, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. I know that when my husband starting drinking it, it would give him stomach aches if he drank one after eating a salad, and I have gotten a stomach ache from drinking one too fast on an empty stomach. I think it’s best to slowly sip on one or limit yourself to one cup at a time if you are just starting out and gradually work up to being able to consume an entire bottle in one sitting.

Notes: You will notice that after about 2-4 weeks, that there’s another scoby that has grown on top of your original scoby. You can leave it there and it should be fine. If you notice your tea is getting too vinegary, it might be time to lop it off. If you do, you can store it in the fridge in a covered glass jar with some of kombucha liquid for a pretty indefinite time. Then, when a friend comes over and loves your home brewed kombucha, you can share your mother with them and guide them on their way to making their own kombucha.

Variations: If you’re just not into the kombucha flavor, you can cut it with some tart cranberry juice and it will taste just great.

In Conclusion

It may seem overwhelming at first to get a system going, but I promise you that it’s not that hard to maintain and the benefits FAR outweigh the efforts. I usually spend about 20-30 minutes a couple times a week on the entire process. And once you get the initial start up costs out of the way, buying the tea and sugar is a nominal fee to keep up with. So what are you waiting for? Go start making that kombucha already!

Here’s a great place if you have any troubleshooting questions along the way.

 

Homemade Continuous Brew Kombucha
Recipe Type: Beverage
Cuisine: Kombucha
Author: Stacey Maaser
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 batches
Enjoy the health benefits of kombucha without the cost by making your own!
Ingredients
  • Brewing Jars – 2 to 4 gallon size glass jars, iced tea jars with spigots, or gallon sized mason jars
  • Tea Pot – A teapot with a wide mouth top so you can easily throw in your tea and sugar
  • Strainer – A mesh strainer for straining out the loose leaf tea
  • Filtered Water – Use a good water source because your scoby is alive and needs a healthy source of water
  • Bottles – 12 to 24 grolsh style flip top bottles for an airtight seal
  • Tea – Black, organic, loose leaf tea is best, use different teas (like red raspberry leaf) once your kombucha is established (about 4-6 weeks)
  • Sugar – Whatever sugar tickles your fancy, you’ll go through a lot of it, but you just need one cup per batch to get started
  • Scoby – Buy a scoby online or get one from a friend
Instructions
  1. Brew the Tea – Boil water, add a handful of loose leaf tea (or 8 tea bags), add one cup of sugar
  2. Let it Sit – Let the tea steep and then cool
  3. Scoby and Liquid – Put the scoby and the liquid it came with in your gallon sized jar
  4. Add the Tea and Water – Use the wire mesh strainer to filter out the loose tea
  5. Cover – Cover the glass jar with a folded paper towel or cheesecloth and a rubber band to let it breathe and keep out the bugs
  6. Store in a Dark Place – Let it sit undisturbed for 5-7 days
  7. Bottling – Pour the kombucha from your gallon glass jars into individual bottles
  8. Store the Bottles – Keep undisturbed for another 5-7 days for the second fermentation
  9. Move to the Refrigerator – Move the bottles you want to drink to the refrigerator