Jaundiced Newborn

We weren’t really surprised when the blood work came back and confirmed little Thea had jaundice. Her older brother had suffered from it too at birth. She had high risk factors for developing jaundice; being of Asian descent and having a Coombs positive test (my and her blood types are incompatible) so we knew it was a likely outcome. But my son’s doctors had allowed us to take him home and supplement with formula until my milk came in to get him having more frequent bowel movements (which clears the bilirubin from their system). They had us go into the hospital every day for about four days to have his blood drawn and levels checked and if they hadn’t gone down in a timely manner or had risen too high he would have had to go back to the hospital to undergo phototherapy.

Thea’s doctors, however, had us take her home and prescribed a biliblanket (ultraviolet lighted blanket) to be used 24/7 until her levels dropped to an acceptable degree. I thought this was wonderful! I didn’t want to stay at the hospital any longer than we had to (in fact I had them discharge us 24 hours early). But now after nearly a week of at home treatment, I feel differently.

While we waited for my doctor to discharge me, Thea was given phototherapy at the hospital. They too used a biliblanket, but it was much stronger than the one they send you home with. My little girl had to wear goggles strapped over her tiny face to prevent her from seeing the light which would damage her delicate newborn eyes. At the time I thought it must be horrible for her to have to lay there with her eyes covered.

newborn on a biliblanket for jaundice

Had she stayed on treatment at the hospital she probably would have only needed one or possibly two extra days there. The home treatment, however, took four days and meant she and I were literally hooked to an outlet nearly 24/7. Thea had to lay in just a diaper with the lighted blanket against her back all day. And sleeping at night, which is already tricky with a newborn, became nearly impossible when every time she moved the blankets I had covering her shifted and the bright light shone in my face. The biliblanket also generates a little bit of heat and Thea was constantly sweaty from laying on it.

at home jaundice treatment

The other downside was every morning between 7 am and 8 am I had to drive back to the hospital and get her blood drawn. Part of me looked forward to this outing because it was the only time in the day I got to leave the house with her, but of course driving there on so little sleep and having to watch her get her little feet pricked over and over again was no fun.

Thankfully her numbers peaked on the fifth day and yesterday she was given the okay to stop using the biliblanket. She also had her last blood draw this morning. Now that the jaundice ordeal is finally ending I am happy to be able to get out a little with my baby and actually be able to put her in clothes. And she’s much more comfortable not having to be strapped to a lighted blanket all day.

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