Breastfeeding a baby with jaundice – Hayley

When my son was just a few days old he was admitted to the paediatric ward at Hospital U. I had already spent several days in hospital before the birth of my son due to PROM [prolonged rupture of membranes]. The hospital midwife had tried to help him to latch on by roughly grabbing my breast and forcing it into his mouth. This clearly didn't work, and was distressing for both me and my baby. I was exhausted and keen to leave the hospital. I thought I would have a better chance of encouraging him to feed once we were out of the noise and bustle and relaxing at home.

Unfortunately at home he seemed to be excessively drowsy and it was becoming increasingly difficult to get him to feed. The visiting midwife had said that he was jaundiced and that I needed to try and feed him at least every 3 hours to clear it. However, he just wouldn't wake up enough to latch on. I was actually relieved to be readmitted to hospital because I was becoming frantic trying to get him to breastfeed through the night. The few times I could get him to feed he would only use from one breast, so the other breast was rock hard, hot and really sore by this point.


In the hospital there was a wonderful night nurse who was trained in breastfeeding support. I wish I could remember her name. She came and helped me to wake him every few hours through the night. She recommended that I pump the hard sore breast to relieve the pressure. She also helped me with my latch, showed me different holds and let me just talk. After a few days my son was much improved, brighter and feeding well from both breasts. Things were much improved by this point, my baby was more alert, far less orange and feeding well.


I will never forget that nurse. I am not sure I would have succeeded in continuing to breastfeed without her support. Thanks to her help in those crucial first few days, I was able to breastfeed my son for over 2 years.


Thank you for visiting the Hospital Infant Feeding Network. This website is a repository of relevant knowledge and best practice resources for health professionals. To join the conversation, ask questions and share your experiences please join us on Facebook or Twitter.


We will be running Q&A sessions on various topics, which will be advertised on our social media sites. Please email if you have ideas or want to get more involved. We welcome health professionals passionate about supporting breastfeeding/chestfeeding and lactation in the hospital setting to join our steering group, please get in contact if this is you!

You may have noticed that we use 'additive' language on our website to refer to lactation and human milk feeding. This means that we might refer to 'breastfeeding/chestfeeding'. Chestfeeding is a term that some non-binary people use to refer to feeding their child at the chest if the word breast is not congruent with their gender identity. Using additive language helps reduce a feeling of exclusion for non-binary and transgender people, without taking away from the importance of words like breastfeeding and mother. We do not always use additive language - for example when using infographics created by other organisations or referring to scientific research that didn't use additive language as this may not generalisable. There is a much more detailed description of the additive approach here.

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