Breastmilk Jaundice

What is Breastmilk Jaundice?

 * baby is at least a week old

* baby is gaining weight well (exclusively breastfed)

* baby is passing both plenty of clear urine and bowel movements

* baby is generally well

Breastmilk jaundice is normal and usually peaks at between 10 and 21 days. Only rarely does it require treatment and almost never requires stopping breastfeeding even for a short time. This type of jaundice has not been proven to harm the baby in any way. Breastfeeding experts such as Dr. Jack Newman and Dr. William Sears have said that in their experience, most exclusively breastfed babies who are perfectly healthy and gaining weight well are still jaundiced at five to six weeks of life and even later.  Dr. Jack Newman says,   "Do not stop breastfeeding for “breastmilk” jaundice.    

Jaundice caused by not getting enough milk

Babies who do not get enough breast milk are at higher risk for jaundice. They may have higher bilirubin levels because the small amount of milk that they're getting stays in their body longer causing the bilirubin to be reabsorbed into the body. The most common cause for babies to not get enough milk is poor latch .   

Definition of Newborn Jaundice

Also known as hyperbilirubinemia - it causes newborn babies to have a yellow tint to their skin color and the whites of their eyeballs. It can happen because babies are born with more red blood cells than they need. When the liver breaks down the extra cells it makes a yellow pigment called bilirubin. Newborn babies liver can't break down bilirubin quickly so the extra yellow pigment shows up in the newborn's eyeballs and skin.


The best way to treat and prevent jaundice is to get breatfeeding off to a good start.

* Bilirubin leaves the body via your baby's stools. The more stools the baby has, the less bilirubin remains in the blood. Early, frequent, unrestricted breastfeeding helps to get rid of bilirubin from your baby's body.

* Make sure you baby is latching on to the breast to ensure that your baby is getting enough breast milk.

* Do not give bottles of water or formula. This does not help flush the bilirubin out any quicker and only serves to disturb breastfeeding.

* If your baby needs phototherapy (light therapy) find out if you can use a photo-optic bilirubin-blanket (phototherapy lights that wrap around the baby) so that you can hold and breastfeed your baby at home while the lights help break down the bilirubin and not disturb the breastfeeding relationship
Breastmilk jaundice and latch