If your baby has a yellowish tint to the skin, it could be caused by jaundice, which is a common condition that affects many newborns. Usually, jaundice is not dangerous. It is simply caused by an excess of a pigment called bilirubin, which builds up in the baby's body and can take a few weeks to subside. If your baby has been diagnosed with jaundice, here are some things you can do to help:
- Understand that mild cases of jaundice do not need to be treated. They will resolve on their own.
- If you breastfeed, continue doing so regularly, as this can help to eliminate extra bilirubin from the body.
- Make sure that your breastfeeding baby is latched on properly and is sucking correctly. When babies do not breastfeed well, they may not get enough calories and may be more likely to get a more severe case of jaundice.
- If your baby seems sleepier from the jaundice, take care to wake him or her to feed often enough.
- Stay in close touch with your pediatrician, because if the bilirubin level gets too high, then phototherapy may need to be used, which is a special light therapy that dissolves the extra bilirubin in the skin.
- Ask your pediatrician about using a photo-optic bilirubin blanket at home that can have the same results at having phototherapy in the hospital.
- Understand that you may need to supplement breastfeeding with formula or water to provide more fluids that will help to decrease the bilirubin levels. If this is the case, check with a lactation consultant for help on how to introduce the supplements, such as via a syringe or with your finger, to prevent nipple confusion.
- While most babies do well breastfeeding with jaundice, some may need formula instead until they get the excess bilirubin out of their bodies. If your doctor recommends you stop breastfeeding temporarily, pump your milk to help you maintain your milk supply and avoid getting engorged.
- Be prepared if your baby is not responding to the jaundice treatment, the next step would be to have an exchange transfusion, which replaces the newborn's blood with transfusions from a donor.