What is Breastmilk Jaundice?
It is the late
onset of jaundice. This type of Jaundice gets worse between days 6 and
14 after birth in breastfed babies. This is normal and common and may
last up to week 12 after birth.
Why does this Occur in Breastfed Babies?
There is a substance in breast milk that promotes the reabsorption of bilirubin into the gut. It is important to remember that Jaundice is normal and in fact it has recently been discovered that normal jaundice can be beneficial to babies. Normal levels of Bilirubin have been found to be a powerful antioxidant.
- A baby with Jaundice is usually sleepier; this can result in baby breastfeeding less than normal and can therefore also amplify the symptoms and effects of Jaundice.
- Some Moms may also follow strict feeding schedules while breastfeeding and this can also increase bilirubin levels. Moms should breastfeed as much as possible.
- Another reason why breastmilk jaundice is so apparent is because most caregivers suggest that mom stops breastfeeding to bring down bilirubin levels. In actual fact, in most cases of breastmilk jaundice, levels of bilirubin are not dangerously high.
Should Mom Stop Breastfeeding?
If breast milk has been identified as the cause of Jaundice,
phototherapy treatment should be used while Mom continues to breastfeed.
Temporarily stopping breastfeeding does not help and may actually
disrupt the breastfeeding relationship. Giving baby anything other than
breast milk can change baby’s gut PH level as well as make the risk of
developing allergies much higher. Read more on the immunity that breast
Mom should try to breastfeed baby as much as possible
and should make sure that baby is receiving enough milk by checking for sufficient
dirty/wet diapers and sufficient weight gain.
Tracy Behr, CBC, CLD (CBI)
Breastfeeding counsellor course through childbirthinternational on
physiology of breastfeeding / breastfeeding problems / Health problems / bm jaundice.
Other pages on breastfeeding problems in connection with this page
* When is supplementation necessary?
* How to work with a sleepy baby.
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