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Ultra Violet lights and donor milk! – UK

New born babies often develop jaundice within their first few days. It is caused by a build-up of bilirubin (a breakdown product of red blood cells) in the blood which is usually harmless. However, it is important to prevent it worsening as it can lead to conditions that damage an infant’s brain. In addition to keeping the baby under ultra violet (UV) lights, the best way to prevent a further build-up of bilirubin is to ensure they have plenty of milk feeds. This little boy developed jaundice soon after his birth – his mother takes up his story.  

‘My son was born in March 2021 and had quite a lot of donated breast milk over our 5 day stay at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford because he was born with severe jaundice. He also weighed more than 4.5kg so almost immediately needed huge amounts of milk to help ‘flush out’ the jaundice. This was much more than I was making as my milk hadn’t come in yet. I had been harvesting colostrum before his birth and I had naively thought that would be enough for him for a few days. I was wrong – after less than 24 hours under the UV lights the nurses decided that he needed bigger volumes of milk’. 

‘They asked me for my consent for him to receive donated breast milk – it was 2:30am and they had woken me out of a very deep sleep. I rather blearily just said yes, give him whatever he needs! It was the next day that I fully appreciated the situation and realised that Oxford is blessed to have a supply of donated breast milk for occasions like this. When my milk did come in, there still wasn’t nearly enough for such a large, ill baby, plus we had some latching issues. It also turned out I was extremely anaemic following birth, which was affecting my supply. I was able to pump some but my son was still mainly having the donated breast milk until we were discharged. I’m so thankful that it meant he got the best possible start, which I was unable to give him due to our circumstances, and am so grateful to the ladies who donated their milk’.

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