Breastfeeding my kids was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I struggled with low supply, a shallow latch, nursing strikes, and, especially in the beginning, extremely sore nipples. Things did get better, though. In fact, I honestly started to love breastfeeding. But then I got thrush, and it was one of the most uniquely painful experiences of my life. You see, there are things thrush actually feels like, not a single one of them are pleasant, and, unfortunately, I have experienced it all.
The pain was indescribably bad — so bad that I was glad that I saved some pain meds from childbirth. My nipples bled. Then they scabbed over. Then, every time I nursed my son, they would crack or lose their scabs. They were so raw that I couldn't bear to wear a shirt or bra, and so itchy I felt like I had a bad case of hives. I ended up switching to pumping for a couple of days to give them a break, and, even then, I felt searing, shooting pain through my milk ducts when I pumped pink milk (from the blood). It was quite possibly the worst pain I've ever felt, and I had back labor.
Eventually, with some prescription treatments from my doctor and a custom-mixed nipple cream from the pharmacy, I finally got rid of thrush for good. But, until then, the lists of symptoms on websites and in breastfeeding books really didn't validate the pain I was in. So, in the name of solidarity, here's what thrush actually feels like: