Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jaundice

You may find it a little strange that I would put a blog about jaundice on an Interrupted Expectations site. But the truth is that this is a big interrupted expectation.  Anything that goes wrong with a brand new baby is scary and exhausting.

Jaundice refers to the yellow color of the skin and whites of the eyes caused by excess bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is produced by the normal breakdown of red blood cells.

We have experienced jaundice three times in our family. Actually we learned to just plan on it by the third! With our oldest, he was already in the hospital so the nurses handled all of it. With out middle child, her numbers got pretty high and she ended up with the "suitcase" with lights. We really hated this because she was to be under the lights at all times, except for eating. For the first few days of her life, we didn't get to hold her very much. With our youngest child, we were prepared and caught his quickly. Thankfully we used the "blanket" light for him and so he was able to be held much more. Praise God that our numbers never got high enough to be placed back into the hospital.

One of the biggest troubles with jaundice is having to return to the doctor every day, feeding what seems like non-stop, and not being able to love on a newborn because they are under a light and you are concerned about the "count". After just having a baby, this is very tiring and emotional.

Here are some hints for Mommies:
-Feed, Feed, Feed that baby. Forget about a schedule and feed that baby as much as possible. Our pediatrician wanted the babies nursed at least every two hours. The goal is to flush out the baby's system. By feeding more often, it will help the Mommy's milk supply increase sooner as well.
-Sunlight also helps to break up the jaundice. Place the baby's crib in a sunny window if possible.

Helping New Mommies:
-Watch siblings. The Mommy will be required to bring the baby into the doctor's office every morning until the bilirubin count peaks and begins to come down. Most doctor's offices don't make appointments for this so you just have to wait until a nurse has a free moment. This is not something that a new Mommy wants to take siblings to.
-Offer to drive to the doctor's office. Depending on the delivery, the Mommy may not be able to drive.
-Meals are a huge blessing.
-Come over and clean the house while the Mommy is gone. A clean house will definitely help brighten the day.
-Take siblings to the park or for a playdate. With Mommy nursing so much around the clock, sleep is very important throughout the day.

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