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Old 10-30-2012, 03:10 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by z2akids
Elevated levels of bilirubin can be very dangerous. High enough levels for long enough can cause permanent neurological damage. Jaundice needs to be taken very seriously for the ultimate health of the child.

Babies with jaundice become very sleepy as a result. This means that they often are very poor nursers. Keeping them awake long enough to get sufficient breastmilk in those early days can be very tough to do. Breastmilk is also digested more fully than formula which means that those babies often have fewer and smaller bowel movements than babies on formula which means that formula fed babies generally clear the bilirubin from their bodies more quickly than breastfed babies (which is good for baby). Latch problems can be common and part of the reason is that baby is too sleepy to get and keep a good latch. Pumping can be an alternative that works for a lot of people. I addition, sunlight or biliblankets help breakdown the bilirubin so that it can be excreted.

Switching to formula is fairly standard advice because of how dangerous longterm exposure to high levels of bilirubin can be. It is absolutely possible to breastfeed your way through jaundice and for baby to be fine. But, please don't just dismiss the advice as bad advice.

My middle child had a borderline bili level when we left the hospital. We went to the doctor about 36 hours later and his level was higher. We were advised to get him in the sun and nurse as much as possible (or supplement). His levels continued to rise for the next day or two and ultimately we had to use a biliblanket on him 24/7 at home for 5 days with a visiting nurse coming in daily to do a heel stick to check his levels. We got through it without supplementing. However, it was something that we continually reevaluated because if my milk hadn't come in quickly and if we couldn't keep him awake enough to nurse or he wasn't having enough bm's, then we knew that supplementing may well be more important for his longterm health than exclusively breastfeeding. We were careful to stick with advice from our doctor, LC and the information we received from daily bili level information. It isn't necessarily bad advice that she is getting and certainly shouldn't just be blown off as an ignorant doctor.
Very good post.

I guess sometimes med professionals cut to the chase too soon and don't take the time to explain what's going on ton the patient. That could be good or bad, depending on the ppl and situation, but in these cases it could mean a mother foregoing bf'ing altogether.
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