This often develops after 24 hours of birth and peaks on about day three. Jaundice
usually fades within 10 days. Look out for the whites of your baby's eyes and his
skin turning yellow.
Neonatal jaundice is rarely a problem and affects 60 per cent of babies. Jaundice
occurs because of an overload of red blood cells (needed while your baby is in the
womb), and your baby's immature liver may struggle to get rid of these blood cells.
If jaundice persists beyond a couple of weeks the community midwife may suggest a
blood test back at the hospital where your baby will be treated.
He will be given phototherapy for severe jaundice, which involves sleeping under
an ultraviolet light. These light waves are absorbed by his skin to help eliminate
the overload of red blood cells.
Putting your baby by a sunny window can also help jaundice, and so can feeding him
frequently - every two to three hours.
Some breast-fed babies can become dehydrated during the first week because a new
mum doesn't realise that her baby isn't feeding properly. This may be because he
isn't latching on, or simply isn't feeding often enough.
Signs of dehydration include dry nappies, and the soft non-bony area on his head,
the fontanelle, may be sunken. As dehydration becomes more severe, your baby may
become listless and too tired to feed, his lips will become dry, and he'll lose more
than 10 percent of his birth weight.
If you're worried about dehydration then speak to your midwife urgently because a
lack of fluid and salts can result in shock.
Although severe dehydration is rare, it needs urgent treatment in hospital and your
baby may be put on a drip or have a feeding tube inserted into his tummy via his
To prevent dehydration, make sure your baby is latched on correctly during breast
feeding. Also, be aware that some babies are very docile in the first week, so if
your baby isn't 'demanding' food, then feed him every three hours during the day,
and every four hours at night.