Jaundice and Breast Milk

My little one had jaundice and it lasted longer than the little one of my friend who was formula fed. Jaundice is the yellowing of skin that is usually noticeable at Day 2. This is due to a high level of bilirubin in baby’s blood. Bilirubin takes some time to removed by the liver through the stool when the baby is born because this is previously done by the placenta. Breastfed babies usually takes longer than one week before jaundice goes away.

I remember my mother-in-law telling me to stop breastfeeding because my little one has jaundice but this is an old maid’s tale. My little one’s pediatrician back in the Philippines is a breastfeeding advocate and she just told me to wait it out for two weeks and to continually expose my little one to early morning sun. For Canadian Moms, I would say it is best to consult with a lactation consultant on this because there are a lot of pediatricians that are not breastfeeding advocates in Canada. I know it is hard to book lactation consultants so please look for one while you are still pregnant, in that way you can establish a relationship with him/her already.

Well in Canada, it’s going to be hard to expose your little one to early morning sun especially if you give birth during fall-winter seasons. So what can else can I share to you? Here are the other points for guidance that our pediatrician advised us:

  1. Increase your little one’s breastfeeding from Day 2 to Day 15, make it at least 12 times a day. You can monitor this by writing down the time when your little one breastfeeds so you can have something to show your pediatrician and lactation consultant if you are still worried about jaundice.
  2. Work with lactation consultant so he/she can check if your little one has latch issues or if you need to take lactation aids

Hope this guide from my pediatrician will help you, she really just emphasized on not worrying too much about it until two weeks and just to increase the frequency of breastfeeding. Never do the following though:

  1. Supplement with sugar water. This is yet another old maid’s tale and it will worsen your little one’s jaundice as well as disrupt with breastfeeding.
  2. Discontinue breastfeeding
  3. Since you are monitoring the frequency of breastfeeding, do NOT put him/her in a “scheduled” breastfeeding during the first few weeks of life. It is important to first establish breastfeeding relationship. If your little one wants to breastfeed every 30 minutes then do so.