All babies are checked for Jaundice when they’re born. Jaundice is the yellowing of the skin and eyes due to higher levels of bilirubin. Bilirubin is a yellow substance that the body creates when it replaces old red blood cells and is removed from the body by the baby’s bowel movements.
Since my son was born 3 weeks and one day early he was considered premature by one day. Being premature increases a baby’s risk of having jaundice. Because of this the nurses and the phlebotomists would come in every four hours and prick the bottom of my baby’s heel to squeeze it for blood. They did it so much that at the end of our stay he wouldn’t cry anymore when they did it. As if giving birth, attempting to breastfeed and being on no sleep wasn’t enough, I had to watch this happen to him every couple of hours and there was nothing I could do.
His results came back with high levels of bilirubin. What they told us is that they would continue to monitor it but needed to also know when I would breastfeed, for how long and if he had any bowel movements. They gave us a print out to keep track so we did.
We were told that high levels of bilirubin could lead to brain damage. During our stay he stayed around a level of 13 and we were told that the level that causes brain damage was 25.
Depending on his age, the amount of bilirubin that is safe changes. During our stay his levels stayed a little higher than they wanted but they never seemed concerned. The night before we were discharged the doctor sent in a biliblanket; which is basically a piece of plastic that’s used as phototherapy and produces a blue/white light wrapped in a mesh “blanket”. The phototherapy is used to break up the bilirubin in the body.
If you read my previous breastfeeding post, yes I breastfed him for 8 hours straight all while he was using this biliblanket. #momlife
Our discharge date came and we were still unsure if we would have to stay because of his bilirubin levels. We already had to stay an extra day (total of 4 days admitted, 3 with the baby) because he was premature and we both ran a fever. We waited all day for the doctor to come in and let us know what his plan was. I ended up getting a phone call to my room and it was the doctor. He said his levels were still at a 13 and he still wasn’t having many bowel movements but he didn’t think we needed to stay an extra night or take the biliblanket home. Every baby has an appointment the day after discharge where you have the baby checked by an RN and you have another consultation with the lactation nurse. The doctor told us to have his blood drawn then to see if his levels changed. We were relieved that things were looking up. We finally were able to take our baby home and were feeling so grateful to finally be out of that hospital room.
That night was a nightmare. Like I said, the night before I fed him for 8 hours straight. The night when we got home he wouldn’t even latch. He would attempt it but would come off right after and cry. His cries were so loud our dog who slept on the bed with us took it upon himself to sleep under the bed and hasn’t come back up since!
I kept trying to get him to latch and my husband attempted to help too. He finally fell asleep but the night had already passed. At this point it was Wednesday morning. From Saturday- Wednesday I would say I had gotten 2 hours of sleep total. Between the baby, nurses and visitors there was no time to rest.
My husband and I got out of bed, had time for a quick breakfast and headed back to the hospital for his baby wellness checkup.