Quick Q&A on Breastfeeding Jaundice

Jaundice in newborn is very common. Characterised as the coloration of the skin and eyes, it causes panic among new moms all over the world.

Why wouldn’t it, right? Your baby turns yellow. If that isn’t shocking enough, I don’t know what is.

But again, it is normal. However, there are cases where it progresses into a more serious medical condition. To avoid that, we are going to talk about how you can treat jaundice. But first, let’s talk about the basics.

What causes jaundice in newborns?

Jaundice is normally caused by high amounts of bilirubin in the baby’s body. Bilirubin is a product of breaking down hemoglobins, which babies have a lot of considering it is the red blood cells that provide them with oxygen when they were still in the womb. Eliminating these high amounts of bilirubin can be hard for the underdeveloped liver of the baby. As a result, their skin and sometimes eyes turn yellow.

Aside from this, there are also cases of newborn jaundice where the primary cause is the lack of breast milk. This type of jaundice is what we call breastfeeding jaundice.

What is breastfeeding jaundice?

Together with physiologic jaundice and breast milk jaundice, breastfeeding jaundice is another type of jaundice. Again, it is mainly caused by the low amount of breast milk intake by the baby.

When does it happen?

Its onset usually occurs around 1st week after birth.

Why does this happen?

This may be due to the baby’s inability to latch on to the mom’s breast properly or there are other reasons why breastfeeding is interfered. Nutrition from breast milk enables the baby’s body to break down bilirubin effectively. With the absence of these nutrients, it becomes harder to eliminate the compounds out the baby’s body. Another factor is, through breast milk, your baby poops out meconium which carries a lot of bilirubin.

How can you treat jaundice?

Normally, it just runs its course and is gone after a few days. But there are treatments available such as phototherapy which makes it easier for the bilirubins to be broken down. As a more convenient alternative, you can use natural light, as in the sun, to treat your baby’s jaundice. And of course, the baby should be provided with enough breast milk given that their nutrients come from it. Adequate amount of breast milk should be enough to resolve the condition.

For severe cases, a blood transfusion may be required. It will be used to provide healthy red blood cells to replace the unhealthy ones.

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