Jaundice is common in babies in the first 3 weeks of life. It is a condition where the baby's skin and whites of the eyes look yellowish caused by excess bilirubin (a byproduct of the red blood cells) in the blood. Jaundice occurs when bilirubin builds up faster than a newborn's liver can break it down.
The most common treatment is phototherapy (light therapy). This involved placing the baby naked under special blue lights with only the diapers on and the baby's eyes are covered and protected by an eyes mask; the process helps the body to break down the bilirubin.
Our pediatrician checked him on day 0 and said he needed phototherapy starting midnight. Upon the Blood Biochemistry test for Bilirubin (Neonate), his bilirubin level was 18.6mg/dL (miligrams per dicilitre) on day 1 (am). The test result was after 6 hours of phototherapy starting midnight. If our pediatrician did not order phototherapy starting midnight, his jaundice level may have shoot up to a higher level. Our baby boy was hospitalised for the next few days for phototherapy and he was routinely checked for bilirubin level. His bilirubin was 18.2 at day 1 (pm), 15.5 at day 2, peaked at 19.4 at day 3 (am), 18.8 at day 3 (pm) and remained high until day 7. Our baby is to be remained admitted for phototherapy until his bilirubin level drop below 10.
The common treatment required only a photolamp (on top/above the bassinet) and a bilibed (at the bottom) on the bassinet.
|Picture taken from http://ww.thebabyspecialist.com.sg|
Just as described above, his jaundice peaked between day 3 to day 5. Due to the spike on day 3, our pediatrician intensified the treatment. From the normal 1 photolamp above the 1 bilibed in the bassinet increased to 3 photolamps above and 1 capsule (equivalent to 3 bilibeds' lights) in the bassinet. Altogether, he had 6 lights on him almost 24hours a day for the next 2 days except for feeding time and slowly reduced the lights depending on his bilirubin test result. Breastmilk was discouraged at this point of time because of medical and practical reason. And as recommended, he was on total formula milk feeding to encourage frequent bowel movement, which help remove the bilirubin through stools. It was heart and nerve wrecking seeing him under itensified treatment of 5 or 6 lights!
My poor baby was pricked at least once a day and twice a day when his bilirubin levels was at peak throughout his stay in hospital for the routine bilirubin test and other test. It was a tough time for us; especially when his bilirubin level peak at 19.4 on day 3 and remained high for the next few days. We were told that bilirubin above 20 is consider an alarming level and there are potential risk of deafness, or brain damages, and in rare cases, an exchange blood transfusion (baby's blood is replaced with fresh blood) may be needed. My heart sank seeing my newborn being placed for treatment. He was the one and only in the nursery who required such intensified treatment and stayed for an extended period of time. On every visit, I touched his little hands and held my tears, cause I needed to be strong for him.
I pray and believe that his bilirubin level will drop the next day, and he will be discharged the following day. Believing in miracles, believing in total healing. Every day, I look forward to the next day, knowing that today is the day that my baby will be discharged.
7 days in nusery, 6 days of phototherapy, 11 blood tests. Praise the Lord! On day 7, his bilirubin level has dropped to 11 and he has also passed the second hearing screening. Our pediatrician finally gave his consent for our baby to be discharged!
My son was born on 18 October 2012, and discharged on 25 October 2012. A picture of him (still looking yellowish) a day after discharged.
The hardest work on earth is to have faith when you're afraid,
to believe when you want to doubt,
to speak faith and be positive,
when you feel negative.