When my daughter was a newborn, she was diagnosed with a common medical condition called jaundice. This is the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes due to high bilirubin levels.
She had to go through several heel prick testings and was placed under a special lamp (phototherapy) that could reduce the excess of bilirubin. This condition required us to stay in the hospital for three days as the nurses tested and measured her levels.
It also didn’t help that I was struggling with breastfeeding but after much effort, her bilirubin levels eventually lessened by the end of the week.
Before I share how I removed jaundice in my newborn, let’s first learn about what it is.
Disclaimer: The contents in this post is for informational purposes only and is based on my personal experience. The contents is not intended to be a substitute for professional or medical advice. Always seek the advice of your baby’s pediatrician for any questions and health concerns.
What is jaundice?
Jaundice is the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.
It usually occurs after the first 24 hours of birth and will last up to two weeks or more. This happens when your baby’s bilirubin levels are high and the liver is unable to pass it from the body.
Bilirubin is a substance created from the breakdown of red blood cells, which is normally removed by the mother prior to birth. Since it may take a few days for baby’s liver to fully develop and remove bilirubin, this chemical can build up and show what we know as jaundice.
High levels of bilirubin can lead to other health risks such as brain damage. However, this is rare and can often be reduced through multiple ways. Here are my four ways that removed jaundice in my newborn.
Phototherapy is a treatment in which your baby is placed under a special lamp, which helps rid the body of excess bilirubin.
When my daughter was under phototherapy (during our hospital stay), she disliked it very much. She was stripped to the diaper, had a sleep mask on (to cover the eyes), and was encouraged to lay under the lamp the whole day.
Personal Tip: If you use phototherapy, make sure you adjust your room temperature so that the room is less chilly and more manageable for your baby.
2. Indirect Sunlight
After three days of being in the hospital, we were given the “okay” to discharge and continued treatment at home. A more natural approach to lower bilirubin levels that was recommended by the nurses was to use indirect sunlight.
I would sit near the window during the day and hold my newborn, slightly exposing the skin. I did this 15 minutes, 4 times a day for two days.
Note: This method is no longer recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics as of 8/5/2022 as it doesn’t prove that the use of sunlight is reliable. Read more on the publication here.
3. Frequent Feedings
Another way I helped reduce my daughter’s bilirubin levels was to feed her frequently. Frequent feedings can influence more bowel movements; thus, removing bilirubin out of the system.
The recommended number of feedings for newborns with jaundice is 8 to 12 times a day. You may feed your baby every 2 to 3 hours to keep his or her bilirubin levels down.
Personal Tip: If you find it hard to keep track of feedings, use this super helpful feeding log so you can jot down when your baby is feeding and how often.
If you are struggling to produce milk supply, supplementing is an alternative to help your baby increase bowel movements.
Breastfeeding can be a challenge for some moms, as it was for myself. I struggled to breastfeed during the postpartum period so I turned to formula feeding so that my daughter can have more bowel movements.
With my daughter, I mainly bottle fed due to low milk supply. Because I wasn’t producing, I was bottle feeding in hopes of reducing her bilirubin levels so that she can pass it out of her body.
Thankfully by the fifth day after birth, my daughter was in the clear – no more treatments and no more testings.
Personal Tip: Before you supplement, make sure you meet with a lactation consultant who can provide lactation aid so that you can learn the best and proper ways to feed baby.
Oh, and one more thing.
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