I Can Breastfeed My Baby Even If He/She Is Jaundiced
You should be waking up my sweet baby, it’s time to eat. Why are you so tired and sleepy when feeding? Even your skin and whites of your eyes look yellow.
Your baby may have jaundice. Over 50% of babies develop a condition called jaundice in the first couple of weeks of life. This happens when your baby’s body is breaking down red blood cells that are no longer needed now that they are living in a high oxygen environment. These blood cells come out in that black tarry poop, known as meconium, in their first couple of days of life. Sometimes the poop doesn’t come out quickly enough and the cells are reabsorbed by the body, causing jaundice.
If you think your baby has jaundice this is what to look for:
- Baby is not waking on their own for feedings
- Baby is very sleepy when feeding
- Baby is not having very many wet diapers
- Baby is not having very many poop diapers
- Baby may have a rusty colour in their diaper, sometimes called brick dust
- Baby’s skin and whites of their eyes look yellowish in colour
If you have any of these concerns consult your doctor and they can do a blood test to check for jaundice.
Some tips to cope with jaundice:
- Breastfeed your baby often in the first days. Aim for 11-12 feeds in 24 hours. This will help the baby to poop and flush out the meconium. Wake your baby if they are not cueing to feed by 3 hours
- If your baby is not latching well, see a Lactation Consultant or Public Health Nurse for help with latching
- Hand express milk after breastfeeding onto a spoon or into a small medicine cup and feed this to your baby
- If your baby has to go under the phototherapy lights, continue to feed your baby at the breast every 2 hours for at least 15 minutes and offer expressed breastmilk
- If your baby can’t breastfeed, rent an electric breast pump and begin to express breast milk every 2-3 hours to keep your milk supply up and give this milk to your baby.
This time period can be stressful, but this will pass. Just remember continue to breastfeed your baby frequently and your baby will become alert and eager to feed.
If you are having difficulty with breastfeeding contact the Chatham Kent Public Health Unit at 519-352-7270 ext. 2903 and speak to a Registered Nurse or Lactation Consultant.
Breastfeeding is the foundation of life! Supporting you through all stages of life … it’s what we do!