When I decided to breastfeed, which was less of a decision and more of a "hey, he's doing it and this burns calories like I'm an Olympic athlete and it's more efficient than pumping and not as weird as I imagined, so let's go with it," I didn't know itchy nipples were even a thing to worry about.
For those of you who may be in the dark as I was, consider this a public service announcement.
Why do my nipples itch? Well, my littlest guy contracted thrush, something that AIDS patients and newborns get. In laymen's terms, thrush is a yeast infection in your mouth.
Think that's as gross as it gets? Nope. I have yeast on my nipples. I have so much yeast on my nipples I expect to see a loaf of bread baking on my chest any day. And, who knew, yeast on your nipples is just about the most painful thing one can experience. I would take childbirth over yeasty nips anyday. For several days, I thought he was sucking knives, not milk, through my nipples. Sharp, rusty knives with very serrated edges.
Let me tell you a little more about yeasty nips.
When the pediatrician said he had thrush and then asked if feeding him had been painful I thought there would be a quick fix to the intense pain I'd been experiencing which I'd chalked it up to poor breastfeeding skills. I would have quit, but after reading that if you make it four months breastfeeding, it will be the ONLY TIME IN YOUR LIFE you burn fat from your upper thighs I cringed through the pain and charged on. I was happy to learn the yeast was to blame.
The little boy and I were put on medication and I pumped for a few days which is not a good time at two o'clock in the morning. Or six o'clock. Or nine o'clock.
I thought I was in the clear and returned to feeding him, but within 48 hours I knew the yeast had taken up residence again.
My doctor called in a special cream to a special compounding pharmacy. This is a place where the pharmacists actually MAKE the medicine. Like with a mortar and pestle.
Upon arrival to the pharmacy the hippy pharmacist told me prescriptions take 48 hours to fill. I almost said, "Well, no wonder this is a dying business," I thought about saying, "I will have sex with you right now if you give me the damn cream," but I'm only 5 weeks post-partem so YIKES, and ended up saying, "I need this now."
The best he could do was the next day so I texted my friend who is an OB and asked if I could schmear Monistat on my nips. Done and done. I bathed my boobs in vag cream and hoped for the best.
Now, with my compounding cream in hand, I apply it about 12 times a day and then wash my hands vigorously less the yeast make there way onto other body parts.
I tried to the anti-yeast diet, but you can basically eat broccoli and since I'm burning 500+ calories/day through painful breastfeeding, I think I deserve some sugar and carbs so I stopped the anti-yeast diet. Ok, I never started it. I just read about it. I did, however, start taking a garlic pill because garlic is supposed to kill yeast which is all the evidence I need to confirm yeast are vampires masquerading as single-celled organisms.
After almost a week of special cream, my situation has been downgraded from incredibly painful to moderately itchy. Have you ever tried to scratch your nipple? It's weird and hard to do and you end up hurting yourself but the itch doesn't go away.
If my special cream doesn't work, we take things a step further with something called Gentian Violet. I don't know what it is, exactly, but it involves pouring violet liquid on the "affected area." No need to dye Easter eggs this year; I am the Easter egg.