What Happens If I Feed My Baby Old Breast Milk Why My Baby Has Jaundice?

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Why My Baby Has Jaundice?

Neonatal jaundice is when a baby has high levels of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellow substance that the body creates when it replaces old red blood cells. The liver processes bilirubin in the blood and changes it into a harmless form that is excreted from the body in feces and urine.

Jaundice causes the baby’s skin and the whites of the eyes to appear yellow. In newborns, this yellow color begins to appear first on the face, then chest and belly and finally on the legs and hands as the level of bilirubin increases.

It is normal for a baby’s bilirubin level to be a little higher after birth. As the baby grows in the mother’s womb, the placenta removes bilirubin from the baby’s body. The placenta is the organ that grows during pregnancy to feed the baby. After birth, the baby’s liver begins to do this work. It begins on the third day of the baby’s life, reaches its peak on the fifth day and resolves on the seventh or eighth day. In this normal pattern, the jaundice level is not high and does not need treatment. This is called “physiological” or normal jaundice.

Treatment for jaundice

Some newborns need to be treated before they leave the hospital. Others may need to go back to the hospital when they are a few days old. Treatment in the hospital usually lasts 1 to 2 days.

Sometimes special blue lights are used in babies whose levels are very high. This is called phototherapy. These lights work by helping to break down bilirubin in the skin.

The baby is placed under artificial light in a warm, enclosed bed to maintain a constant temperature. The baby will wear only a diaper and special glasses to protect the eyes.

Breastfeeding and jaundice

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding be continued with phototherapy, if possible. Rarely, the baby may have an intravenous (IV) line to deliver fluids.

The pediatrician may recommend additional fluid to supplement your breastfeeding. This is especially so if the doctor has diagnosed inadequate breast milk as a contributing factor to your baby’s jaundice. Do not worry, but continue to breastfeed your baby and/or express your breast milk regularly eight to 12 times a day, following the pediatrician’s advice to add additional fluid during phototherapy.

If you are separated from your baby during the phototherapy readmission, express your milk regularly to ensure continuity of your milk supply and to avoid breast engorgement. Let your pediatrician and nurses know that you intend to continue turning to breastfeed. Ask that your baby not be bottle-fed to prevent him from rejecting the breast later. Nurses are able to feed using a syringe or cup in hospital. The milk fed can be your expressed breast milk or formula milk.

After phototherapy is completed, your baby will be discharged from hospital. A referral will be made for a bilirubin level check within the next few days.

For a good supply of breast milk, it is important that you rest and eat well. If you have an indoor nanny, she will cook nutritious food for you to ensure volume and quality of milk production.

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