Lactation Home Care

Jaundice in the Breastfed Baby: 10 Things to Know

10 Things to Know About Jaundice in the Breastfed Baby1. Excessive bilirubin in the baby’s blood causes jaundice, or a yellow discoloration of the baby’s skin and eyes.

2. Bilirubin is a by-product of the normal breakdown of red blood cells.

3. Intake of colostrum and breast milk helps babies poop more often, removing bilirubin from their bodies.

4.  At low levels, jaundice serves protective anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant functions in the newborn.

5. Babies with jaundice should breastfeed often.

6. If needed, supplement with expressed breast milk until the baby is taking full feedings at the breast.

7. Avoid giving the baby extra water. Babies excrete bilirubin mainly through their stools, not their urine. Therefore, extra water is not an effective treatment for jaundice.

8. If bilirubin levels are too high, the pediatrician may prescribe “bili-lights” to reduce the baby’s bilirubin level.

9. Jaundice may make babies sleepy. Make an extra effort to wake your newborn regularly for feedings.

10. Breastfeeding should not be interrupted because of jaundice.

What should I do if my baby has jaundice?

If you have a hard time feeding your baby, get skilled help from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) as soon as you can. Effective breastfeeding is the key. If needed, wake the baby in order to get 8-12 feedings per 24 hours. Latch baby deeply on the breast. Pay special attention to positioning at the breast to make it as easy as possible for your baby to get breast milk. Also, consider doing breast compressions to maximize your baby’s intake while breastfeeding. If your baby’s doctor recommends that the baby receive extra expressed breast milk or formula, an IBCLC can show you how to give it and still maintain your breastfeeding relationship.

Are you ready to get the breastfeeding help you need? Go here to book a consult with Christy Van Orman, IBCLC.