I came across this post by Dr. Jack Newman on Facebook about the scoop on jaundice. I'll copy down what he wrote in his post:
"In the first few days after birth, higher than average levels of bilirubin (jaundice) are not caused by breastfeeding or breastmilk. If the baby has higher than average bilirubin, it is because he is not breastfeeding well. Therefore the approach is not to stop breastfeeding and give formula (which will decrease the bilirubin because the baby is now getting more milk-actually too much), but rather to help the mother and baby with breastfeeding. If the baby breastfeeds well, the bilirubin will come down just fine.
If the baby's jaundice is due to breakdown of red cells (ABO incompatibility, for example), stopping breastfeeding does not make sense either. What has breastfeeding or breastmilk to do with ABO incompatibility? Nothing! Keep breastfeeding. After the first few days, so called breastmilk jaundice is actually normal, if the baby is drinking well, gaining well and otherwise healthy. What is not physiologic is for the baby to be artificially fed and not jaundiced. We have a problem in that we take the artificially fed baby as our model of normal and impose that model on the breastfed baby.
So doctors often tell the mother to stop breastfeeding and put the baby on formula for 2 days (some for even a week, which is the same essentially, for many mothers, stopping altogether). Naturally, the bilirubin comes down, proving that breastmilk is the problem. Except that there was no problem in the first place. Bilirubin is known to be an anti-oxidant and may actually protect babies' cells from damage. If the baby has liver disease, except for some very rare causes such as galactosemia, there is no reason to stop breastfeeding either."
I've had friends being told by their paed to stop BF for 10 days and substitute with formula milk when their baby has jaundice. I was disappointed hearing that despite advising them to continue breastfeeding no matter what.
And yes, I definitely know what I am talking about, my girl had prolonged jaundice for almost 2 months and never did I substitute with formula (in fact, our house still zero speck of formula today at 45 months and counting!) or even considered stopping breastfeeding.
Sure, my one mistake in that incident was caving in to antibiotics (my girl took it for 3 days before we decided to stop it) because we could not reached our pead for a week prior to taking the antibiotics and added on with pressures from friends and family members and the jaundice duration of 2 months, it is definitely affecting our decision making but we stopped it when we finally managed to get to our pead (found out he was involved in an accident)
Lesson learned from our incident:
If your child is active, alert, peeing, pooping, feeding, gaining weight like normal, just continue on breastfeeding and don't cave in to substitutes, stopping breastfeeding or giving antibiotics.
So yeah, like Dr Newman said, "Stand up against medical ignorance. Don't take the commandment to stop breastfeeding lying down. Get more information and educate your doctors."
And yes, if you are reading this and know of any new parents with jaundiced baby and are being told to substitute breastmilk with formula or stop breastfeeding, please direct them to this article by Dr. Newman.