Any new mother can tell you that the birthing experience is both a joyous and scary one. Can I do this? Will the baby be okay? Is the baby healthy?
For us, we had a couple of hard weeks at the beginning of our son’s life. After he was born, he was diagnosed with jaundice. He looked “tan,” almost like he was out in the sun for a little while. We didn’t really think anything of it: we were brand new parents, my husband is of mixed ethnicity (so we didn’t really know WHAT our kids would look like!), and he was a full-term baby. When our doctor came in to tell us that the baby had jaundice, we really had no idea what that meant. Would he get better? What do we have to do?
What is Jaundice?
Jaundice is a condition caused by hyperbilirubinemia, or an excess of bilirubin in the blood. When iron is removed from the blood, bilirubin is what is left (waste). It is supposed to be filtered out by the liver, but sometimes in babies the waste can build up, causing them to turn a little yellow. Our son was full-term, but sometimes it just takes their little bodies a little time to start processing everything properly.
For our son, they put him under some specialized lights in the baby nursery for a time. He had a fairly mild case, as it turns out, so our stay was not extended. But we did have to take him in on multiple occasions for blood testing, which was emotionally pretty hard. He was only a few days old, so seeing him “hurt” was hard. But, the nurses only had to do a big-toe-prich to collect a little blood, and that was it. We were instructed to get him in the sun as much as possible. That part was hard, as he was born in the Northeaster USA in February….but I put his swing right at the window, and kept the curtains open all day everyday. After a week or so, his blood work came back saying that the bilirubin was finally at the proper level, so his little liver was up & running properly.
Jaundice is a very common condition. Some medications can even cause some degree of jaundice (we found that out that hard way, too). But, with fast medical treatment, things usually resolve quickly.