Every mother wants a perfect baby in her life. You’re getting ready to bring your new little bundle of joy home from the hospital, there were hours of labour or surgery involved in bringing this precious life into the world and you just can’t wait to bring them home with you. Then the doctor tells you your child has jaundice.
Nobody likes to hear that there’s something not right with their precious new child. You can take solace in the fact that jaundice is a common condition among newborns. So don’t fear, you’ve come to the right place to get some facts and to help get rid of jaundice. Read on to find out how!
1. Know the cause of jaundice
High levels of bilirubin in the blood cause jaundice. Bilirubin is formed when the red blood cells are broken down. This bilirubin is usually broken down by the liver, but in babies this process can be not fully developed yet, causing the bilirubin to remain in the blood.
Different things can cause jaundice. Newborns with livers still developing can get jaundice, premature babies are more likely to have this as well due to not being fully developed. There is also jaundice related to breast milk, sometimes because the baby isn’t getting enough breast milk. The mother’s milk supply may not yet have come in or certain cases due to what’s in the breast milk.
Jaundice is very common, so don’t fear there are easy cures that could work well for you and your baby.
2. Have the condition properly diagnosed
The tell tale signs of jaundice are usually the skin turning a yellowish hue or yellowing in the whites of the eyes. For babies that have darker skin tones, try pressing your finger to their skin and releasing. If it’s yellow instead of white, then they may be jaundiced.
The only way to know if your newborn has jaundice is to have a blood test. This blood test examines the level of bilirubin in the blood, a certain level of bilirubin is normal but anything above 25mg is considered jaundiced. This blood test will be done by a nurse or a doctor and then sent to a lab for testing.
With newborns, they usually prick the bottom of their foot. If this alarms the baby, a good way to soothe them can be breast feeding (or bottle feeding or soother). Jaundice is a medical condition and this article is not intended to be a substitute for sound medical advice. If you are concerned your baby may be jaundiced, or have any other questions about their health, be sure to speak to your paediatrician or medical professional before following any other steps or suggestions.
3. Spending time under the bili-lights
Most hospitals will keep you there if your child is jaundiced enough to provide phototherapy. Phototherapy involves a light that helps remove the bilirubin from the blood. Your child will be in just a diaper for this in order for the skin to absorb the lights being used.
The good thing about the bili-lights is that you are in hospital under medical supervision so you know the baby is getting care for the jaundice. It will take away from skin to skin time with your newborn (which is recommended when possible) but getting rid of the Jaundice is a higher priority than skin to skin.
4. Let the sunshine in
If you are looking for a solid natural cure for jaundice, look no further than sunshine. This would be the natural version of phototherapy, which we discussed earlier. Even if it is too cold to go outside, consider holding your little one by the sunlight of a window.
The best way to give them the sunshine they need is to get them naked (or only wearing a diaper) and either lay them or hold them in the indirect sun. That being said, babies have very sensitive skin that can burn easily so be sure that their skin is only exposed for a short period. It is not recommended to use sunscreen on newborns because of their sensitive skin, so shy away from sunscreen and protect them from the sun by only having them in indirect sunlight for supervised small amounts of time.
5. Let it pass gradually
Sometimes it is recommended that the newborn feed more frequently, be it breast milk or formula, to try and pass the bilirubin in their stool. This can be easier said than done, as it can be hard to force feed a newborn if they aren’t hungry.
If your doctor is concerned about your breast milk supply they may suggest you supplement with formula to make sure the baby can flush out the bilirubin.
If you are looking to increase your breast milk supply, a good way to do so is by pumping. At that rate, you can also supplement your child with bottles of pumped milk instead of formula if you wish. There are herbal teas that are said to help improve breast milk supply as well. Talk to your lactation consultant for more tips and tools for breastfeeding.
6. Reassess after treatment
After you choose a course of treatment and follow through, be sure to follow up afterwards. Having a medical professional re-evaluate the level of jaundice after a few days is advisable. Most Jaundice is newborns is gone within a week or two. You can watch for signs that you are getting rid of jaundice, such as a whiter skin tone, or if the whites of the eyes are no longer yellow.
Now that you’ve got the facts and tools you’ll be informed and ready to deal with your baby’s jaundice. Talk over the options with your partner and medical professional and see what the best option for you and your baby is. When in doubt, it never hurts to speak with a professional. Most importantly, enjoy your new precious baby and every moment with them. There will be a lot of learning to do and many new experiences, so soak up every minute you can and give them all your love.