Dear Aunty Tina, Is there a chance my baby could be born with infant jaundice?
If your baby is born prematurely there is a good chance that her liver will be immature. An immature liver does not function as well as a fully developed liver and has elevated Biliruben levels. In this case red blood cells can become extra viscous (thick) and don’t move as fast through the blood stream, which can lead to red blood cells getting backed up. The obvious symptom of jaundice is yellow skin and the whites of the eyes appearing yellow. The baby can also be lethargic and may have a hard time breastfeeding. (In very extreme cases it can cause Kernicterus where very high levels of Biliruben can induce brain damage).
The most natural practice to alleviate jaundice is to put your baby in direct sunlight for 5-10 minutes at a time, several times a day, depending on the severity. You may want to cover her eyes, which may be sensitive to the bright sunlight. You could also position her crib/baby mat in direct sunlight by the window. The sunlight breaks down the blood cells and helps bring pigmentation to the surface. If it is too cold or wet to go outside full spectrum lighting will also work.
Lots of breastfeeding will act as a great catharsis as the digestion of the milk will lead to bowel movements which will move her internal system along and help the liver decongest. Putting Vitamin E on your nipples before breastfeeding will also help break down the Biliruben in the baby’s liver. A diet high in dark greens will help your baby’s body recover from the jaundice, which should subside within one – two weeks. If it persists seek medical attention from your caregiver.
One final note Mary Kroeger wrote a great book titled, ‘The influence of prenatal practices’ which touches on some practices that may increase the chances of newborn jaundice, such as an overloading of fluids in the mother via IV during labor.