Jaundice can be a very frightening experience, especially if you have minimal information about the condition. Other than the basics, we knew nothing of jaundice until our son was born. With a positive outlook, empowering knowledge, and physician recommendations, you can make it through this challenging time in your life.
Our son’s jaundice was initially diagnosed visually. His eyes, head, chest and stomach were yellowish, which was caused by excessive bilirubin (yellow-colored pigment in red blood cells that makes yellowed skin, Mayo Clinic). A heel stick confirmed his levels were 18mg.
We were preparing to leave the hospital when we received orders to begin phototherapy, a special light that breaks up bilirubin so the liver can process it (Kids Health). This method was effective enough for his physician to allow him to go home with the support of a biliblanket (basically, a portable phototherapy device).
Twenty-four hours after we took him home, we were back for another heel stick. This process continued for approximately one week before the levels were low enough to discontinue phototherapy. In the meantime, breast feeding became more challenging because he was so sluggish. The milk supply diminished, and we were forced to supplement.
The greatest struggle to having a newborn with jaundice was not being able to hold and comfort my new baby at home. My husband and I made a wonderful “nest” for our son, which included his bilirubin blanket. We parked him beside the sliding glass door so he could absorb some sunshine, per his pediatrician’s orders. I created a bed in the floor beside and constantly caressed his hands, but it just wasn’t the same. Don’t get me wrong, I was there for every breath he took… I snuggled him at every opportunity, but being so confined by his biliblanket didn’t allow us to treat him the way we wanted. Having jaundice took away some of the personal warmth of bringing home our first born child.
Having a newborn with higher jaundice levels caused me to be very aware of ANY changes with my children. Also, I became as informed as possible about jaundice and any other subsequent medical issues that arose. I have learned the signs and symptoms, and more importantly, I learned not to overreact. Get help when necessary, and follow all doctor’s orders. This will improve your health drastically in the path to recovery from jaundice, especially with newborns.