Most of us understand that maintaining a healthy diet can heal our bodies. However, when it comes to newborn jaundice, if you’re breastfeeding, your diet can also help heal your baby’s body.
What you put into your body can have an effect on your breast milk. As a nursing mom, it’s important to choose nutritious foods and to avoid the foods that might cause your newborn gastrointestinal distress.
This article is going to cover the causes of newborn jaundice, the foods that can help heal your baby, and the foods you should avoid.
The Causes of Newborn Jaundice
In some newborns, their liver isn’t mature enough to be able to get rid of the excess bilirubin in their bloodstream. This is known as hyperbilirubinemia. What Is Hyperbilirubinemia? It’s a condition in which a baby’s red blood cells take on a yellow pigment, which can cause the eyes or skin to appear yellowish.
Your baby’s body creates bilirubin when it replaces its red blood cells. When there isn’t a problem, it means your baby’s liver is working hard to remove bilirubin from the bloodstream. Instead of staying in your baby’s body, the bilirubin comes out in your baby’s poop.
Jaundice in newborns can be treated by phototherapy. This treatment uses special lights to change bilirubin into lumirubin, which can then be excreted into the baby’s bile or urine. In most cases, jaundice will appear on the second or third day of your baby’s life and will resolve on its own. You can help resolve it by choosing your diet carefully.
Foods to Eat if Your Baby Has Jaundice
When it comes to jaundice and breastfeeding, your diet matters. Your baby’s liver processes everything they eat and drink and helps with toxin removal. Some of the foods that can help this include:
- Foods that are high in fiber
- Papaya and mango
- Milk thistle tea
- Fresh vegetables
- Multigrain bread
- Plenty of water
Healthy foods like broccoli and oatmeal are beneficial to you and your baby. Making sure you and your baby get the nutrients you need can allow the liver to function more effectively.
Foods to Avoid if Your Baby Has Jaundice
Just as there are foods we can eat to help heal our baby’s jaundice, there are also foods that can work against optimal liver function. The unhealthy foods you want to avoid passing to your baby through your breast milk include:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Oily foods
- Spicy food
- Processed foods
- Unsaturated fats
- Junk food
- Refined sugar
- Salty foods
These foods are bad for you and your baby. They may not make your infant’s jaundice worse, but they aren’t going to do anything to speed up healing, either.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding
In addition to being able to help your baby’s liver function, there are many other benefits to breastfeeding. Studies have shown that nursing can help vaccines function better, and they lower a baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Research has also indicated that nursing can help make your baby smarter. Breastfed babies have been shown to have higher IQ scores when they get older, and it may be due to fatty acids in your breast milk.
Researchers have also discovered that nursing can help prevent obesity. Infants who were nursed have lower rates of obesity when they are older. Making healthy food choices now will also model healthy eating so your child will develop healthy habits once they begin eating solid foods.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of breastfeeding is the skin-to-skin contact you will have with your baby. You are the only person in your baby’s life who will be able to share the nursing bond with your child. Congratulations on your new baby! Try not to stress out over your newborn’s jaundice diagnosis. Most babies with jaundice will be just fine.