Breast Milk Juandice

Updated on January 25, 2010
J.L. asks from Globe, AZ
9 answers

My son is 8 weeks old and has had juandice since he was two days old. He spent 2 days in the NICU were I was told he had juandice because of a blood incompatability between him and me. Now the doctor says he has breast milk juandice which had continued since he was released from the hospital. His bili levels have gotten to 15.9 and have decreased and risen but never gotten past 16. My question is how long does this usually last? We have supplemented formula and his levels have gone down, but they have risen a few times. Now were are being sent to a specialst and I am hoping I dont have to give up breast feeding. Thank you.

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answers from Flagstaff on

It sounds like you've gotten some good answers - that nursing will only help but you may need some help making breastfeeding more effective; and that his levels are ok. Watch for signs that he is getting enough milk - swallowing often (ears wiggle), 6 wet diapers, good weight gain. Keep up the good work!



answers from Phoenix on

Hi J.! Congrats on your new little one! I remember the jaundice with both of mine and one was formula fed, the other fully breastfed. I consulted my LLL book, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I'll try to paraphrase for you, but if you can get this book it has a great chapter all about jaundice in the breastfed baby and how normal it is, even the kind caused by incompatible blood.

Called pathological jaundice, caused by rh or abo blood incompatibilities. Both are quite common. Breastfeeding can and should continue even if treatment is needed and often helps to reduce the jaundice. A bilirubin level of over 25 is considered high after the first 48 hours from birth. Brain damage from extremely high bilirubin levels is very rare in non preemies.

"It is important for parents to remember that complications or damage from high bilirubin levels are very rare."

"Frequent breastfeeding itself will help lower bilirubin levels and should be considered an important part of the treatment plan, if any is necessary. Continued monitoring of the baby's condition along with efforts to encourage baby to nurse often and effectively may be all that is needed."

If you would like the info the book has on phototherapy or bililights, let me know. I also remember putting the bassinet by the window so sun could shine in on baby for a little while every day which helped!



answers from Tucson on

I've nursed all 3 of my kids and currently still nursing my 15 month old. Each of them had jaundice-which is totally normal in newborns b/c their immature liver can not process bilirubin right away, so it builds up and peaks on day 3. Jaundice can last for 12 weeks, but your baby's level is not of concern-levels above 20 are of concern. The best thing you can do is continue to breastfeed frequently and quit the formula-at least every 2 hours-as well as place your baby in a sunny spot in your house wearing only a diaper several times a day. The UV will help break down the bilirubin and nursing will help flush it out.

I would see a lactation consultant before seeing a specialist. Docs usually are big on pushing the formula (tend to scare new Moms) and don't typically give breastfeeding a chance-it takes time and you have to persist and be determined as it sounds like you are-good for you!

All the best to you and your baby!



answers from Phoenix on

Breastmilk is not the cause of jaundice. It's simply the fact that when a baby is breastfed exclusively, he tends to take in less volume of fluid initially and that can make the jaundice appear faster and hang around longer until the total volume of fluids increases. Your baby's levels are not high enough to cause brain damage, but the fact that your baby is 8 weeks and still has jaundice is of concern. Glad you are seeing a specialist. Some things to consider is how much breastmilk you are producing (your supply may be down if you are supplementing) and how to boost your production before considering giving up breastfeeding. Please talk to a lactation consultant before you decide to stop breastfeeding as she may be able to help you continue. Best wishes. R.. Nurse Midwife mom of 3



answers from Phoenix on

This sounds like my daughter. We did not have to go to NICU, but we did spend 2 days in the hospital under the UV. I did not supplement, though the Dr encouraged it. She finally cleared up around 10 weeks, though, at 5ys, she still looks like she has a tan all year! We did also see a homeopath around 8 weeks. I believe that helped as well.



answers from Jamestown on

First of all good for you for sticking with breast feeding for this long, and don't let them discourage you. I wanted so bad to breastfeed and after my daughter was born she did so well, the day we were supposed to go home they told me that she was jaundice and that I needed to supplement, as soon as she got the bottle she wanted nothing to do with me after that I pumped but my supply went down to nothing shortly after. After having her levels checked I found out for the nurses that anything over 9 is considered jaundice and mild issues, but NOTHING is done about it until it is over 23. So as long as your son isn't getting worse I am sure they will just want to continue to monitor his levels and watch his progress to make sure he is gaining weight. Don't forget to ask questions and don't let them talk you out of something you want to do, like breastfeeding. I let them do it to me because I didn't fully understand at first and I regret that I didn't ask more and find out more.



answers from Phoenix on

When my daughter had jaundice, our doctor suggested that we lay her in the sunlight on our living room floor. We would strip her down to her diaper, and let her lay there for a while (probably half hour at a time). That way she would get Vitamin D from the sun which helps lower bili levels.

I don't have much experience in this as it lasted just a few days, but it seems that would be good to add on if it helps.



answers from Phoenix on

I was told that breastfeeding was a good way to clear that up... What kind of blood incompatibility do you have? I have a platelet incompatibility and my child who was most adversely affected was the one who had trouble with jaundice... I nursed all of my kids... good luck!



answers from Phoenix on

Hi J.,
Congrats to you and props for continuing to breastfeed! It's one of the best things I could've done for my baby. She had jaundice as well, I don't remember it being for all that long though. We were sent home with a bili blanket. I recall the bili blanket use was not for long at all, just really difficult for sleeping. Anyway, I have the name of a WONDERFUL lactation consultant that will give you the latest upfront information. Her name is Doris and her website is & her # is on the site. She was also a RN for YEARS!
Tell her I sent you. Good luck, stick with it, and hang in there. I hope things get better soon.

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