Jaundice in Newborns

Baby looking a little yellow after birth? Could be that he/she has jaundice. Jaundice is the inability to process bilirubin from the blood supply in the body. Bilirubin is the yellow pigment released in the breakdown of red blood cells. Often babies are born with Jaundice and can pass it naturally, other times they need a bit of help.

Babies who are born prematurely, are of East Asian descent, had siblings with severe jaundice, or have genetic disorders are more at risk for jaundice. The liver is one of the last things to mature in babies, so preemies are especially susceptible to having this problem. Jaundice in NewbornsIn my baby, at 37 weeks gestation his liver was not quite ready to handle the bilirubin and he needed a bit of help.

Not to worry–jaundice is perfectly treatable and remediable. In more severe cases a trip to the hospital might be needed, but more often than not home care is available.

Things you can do for jaundice:

  • Nurse! Nurse! Nurse! The more baby nurses and eats, the faster he poops and pees out the bilirubin. So feed that baby, and then feed him some more! Sometimes the doctors will suggest supplementing with formula in order to help them move things through. No dirty diapers means no movement.
  • Set baby near a sunny window, or take walks outdoors. UV light from sunshine helps a baby work that bilirubin out of their system. So sit near a sunny window and nurse that baby!!
  • Seek help. Sometimes a bilirubin light (a blue light that you wrap with baby) is necessary. Your pediatrician may prescribe a home delivery of one to use for a week or until the jaundice subsides, or, as in my case, a night in the NICU is necessary. When we stayed there, my little guy was put into intensive light therapy to help him pass the bilirubin.

More often than not, jaundice is a pretty easy thing to heal. Once in a while, a persistent case can mean a genetic disorder or problem and should be looked further into by a healthcare professional.

Pia Watzig is a stay-at-home mom to three crazy boys in Portland Oregon. She enjoys cooking, gardening, knitting and Lego building.

 

 

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