Jaundice occurs when there is buildup of bilirubin, the waste produced when red blood cells break down. Most newborns experience mild jaundice, with a yellow skin color that usually appears on the face first, and then moves down the torso to the legs. A typical case develops three or four days after birth and disappears within a week or two. Some studies have shown that a slight elevation in bilirubin in infants may actually help their bodies fight off bacterial infections and provide valuable antioxidants to the brain. Jaundice that appears within a day of birth can cause more concern.
Most cases of jaundice resolve on their own, but all cases need to be monitored by a health care provider. Should your health care provider determine that your child’s bilirubin level is too high, she will probably be admitted to the hospital for phototherapy. She will be placed in an incubator under a special blue light that breaks down bilirubin. If she has a mild case of jaundice that still requires treatment, she may be sent home with a special blanket and lights that accomplish the same task.
- Dull or bright yellow tinge to skin that starts at the head and travels down the body
- Yellow tinge to the whites of the eyes
- Yellowish mucous membranes and body fluids
- Constipation or loose stool
- Reduced appetite and thirst
- Buildup of bilirubin
- Premature birth
- Vitamin K shot at birth
- Incompatible blood types between mother and baby
- Diabetes in mother
- Breast milk (very rare; occurs in 1 to 2 percent of cases)
- Mother receiving anesthesia for birth
- Induced labor
- Stressed or difficult birth
You can do your own natural light therapy by making sure your baby gets time in the sun every day. Allow her to nap, eat, and play in front of a sunny window. Take her outside for fresh air and sunshine, with as much skin exposed as possible. However, be careful to protect her skin from sunburn, her eyes from bright lights, and her body from overheating.
Jaundice: Suggestions for Care
If you suspect that your baby has jaundice, call your health care provider for an evaluation. Should your child need phototherapy treatment, ask your health care provider to create a schedule for feeding and bonding with you. Jaundice usually occurs within the first few days after birth, which is an important time to establish breast-feeding, if you plan to do so.
Unless your baby has one of the rare cases of breast milk-induced jaundice, increase your breast-feeding schedule. Bilirubin is excreted through the bowel movements, so frequent breast-feeding will help your newborn move her bowels and get rid of the excess bilirubin in her body.
Foods for Nursing Mother
Food impacts energy. A diet of nutritious, whole foods keeps the body’s energy flowing at a steady pace.
Foods to Emphasize
Drink warm water with lemon juice. Eat leafy greens, radishes, cooked vegetables, whole grains, apples, pears, and grapefruit
Foods to Avoid
Oily, fatty or sugary foods, and bananas
Essential Oils for Baby
Acupoints for Baby
- Stomach 36
- Spleen 6
- Gallbladder 34
- Liver 3
Reiki for Baby
For two or more minutes, place your hands on the following parts of your child’s body:
- Over the liver below right rib cage
- Mid back, toward the right side
Massage for Baby
Give your child a whole-body massage to calm her energy.
Jaundice can develop quickly and can become serious. Check your newborn for a yellowish tint to her skin. In natural light, press lightly on her nose or forehead, and when you pull your finger away, check for a slight yellow tint. Contact your health care provider right away if you think she may have jaundice.
Note: The suggestions and ideas in this article are not intended to take the place of professional guidance or treatment; they are meant to complement the advice of your child’s health care provider, caretakers, and educators, while offering consolidated information to help you develop your intuition and make choices that fit with your own personal, religious, or spiritual philosophies. There is no guarantee as to the effects of the use of the recommendations and no liabilities can be taken.