Confidently prepare for a positive birth experience – Join The Birth Class

Episode 420

Elizabeth | Postpartum – jaundice, hospital readmission

Elizabeth’s newborn baby was readmitted to hospital to treat jaundice which is one of the primary reasons a baby will need to return to hospital after discharge. She had to navigate conflicting medical advice and opinions on the ward which isn’t an uncommon experience in the postpartum health space. I encourage you to listen to this episode because it really highlights the importance of breastfeeding education and having support people to advocate for you. Elizabeth will be back in a few weeks time to share her pregnancy journey and incredibly positive birth under the care of MGP midwives.

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“After birth I was feeling good, I got up and had a shower and I wasn’t feeling woozy or weak. We went home and cuddled and lay in bed and rested. It was really amazing to think that the day before I was pregnant and the next day I’m lying in bed with my baby.

“I didn’t know what I was doing but my mum offered to stay the night and she got up through the night with me. I said: ‘I think the baby needs to be fed’ and she said: ‘yes, I think you’re right’, so she backed my instincts and helped that way. It makes me emotional just saying that. She fostered my trust in my instincts. It was unplanned but was absolutely essential. She stayed two nights and then she had two whole weeks with me – coming and going – when Mitch went back to work.

“Melinda and a few other midwives checked in with me postpartum and I really loved sharing my birth story with them. It was so special to shout it from the rooftops. Melinda noticed that Margaret was a little bit jaundiced but she wasn’t too concerned. She came again the next day and Margaret’s jaundice had spread up to her face and she said she needed a blood test to monitor her bilirubin levels. She suggested going into the hospital to get tested and she might need to do light therapy. They admitted her but not me, so I was a border patient.

“I packed a bag but felt all over the shop and was quite nervous about putting her back in the car. We went to the children’s hospital and there were so many kids there so the receptionist triaged us into a small waiting room. Margaret was definitely hungry and was bringing in milk so I fed her for hours and we were met with really great doctors and nurses who started the admission process. I was really emotional and overwhelmed and I requested to be transferred to the Mater Mothers so I could be admitted to the postnatal ward. They agreed that it was the best course of action.

“Breastmilk really helps clear the jaundice but they wanted Margaret to do light therapy…but she wanted to cluster feed so I was really confused. She was screaming in the incubator and the nurses are not midwives so they were unsure what to do as well. We were left by ourselves as well and it was a full moon and the ward was so busy and I was just sobbing. I had to listen to calming music really loudly on my headphones to drown out the noises of the hospital.

“We got transferred to Mater Mothers and that happened quite quickly. They took me over in a wheelchair and I was holding Margaret. The incubator was brought into my shared postnatal room. My boobs were filling up really quickly and by the evening, mum and Lindsay were asked to leave the ward. Margaret was crying and it was so hard to get her out of the incubator and because my boobs were so full, she couldn’t latch because I was so engorged.

“There was really mixed messaging because they reminded me to keep breastfeeding….but keep her under the lights! I was sobbing from the hormonal drop, the midwives couldn’t give me panadol because I wasn’t a patient, and I was just beside myself.

“The pediatrician came at 2am to do an assessment and she told me that we needed to set up a plan where we measured how much milk Margaret was drinking. I told her I wanted to breastfeed and she said she couldn’t measure breastmilk. I was really pressured to agree to this so the pediatrician could write on the notes that I was following the plan. I hadn’t slept, I was so tired, I agreed to the plan because I felt like I didn’t have a choice. The midwife brought a breast pump in, which I had no idea how to use, and we fed her through a syringe. I called mum first thing in the morning and told her she needed to come in and advocate for me because I had nothing left. When I talked to Lindsay I told him that it was the worst night of my life.

“It’s so crazy how different night and day can be. The morning midwife came in and introduced herself, she changed Margaret’s nappy and told me she was here to help and encouraged me to breastfeed. She got Margaret out of the incubator, wrapped her in the biliblanket, swaddled her and then told me to take my time breastfeeding. I just didn’t even know this was an option; the problem was solved; she could have light therapy while feeding.

“Then the day pediatrician came in and was so delighted to see me breastfeeding, she told me how good breast milk is for jaundice and it’s exactly what I should be doing. She said she would get her blood tests fast-tracked because it looked like I was doing really well and she knew I had the support of MGP midwives at home.

“I had a very negative experience at night and a very positive experience during the day and it makes me wonder how my breastfeeding journey would have unfolded if I didn’t have that positive experience. My MGP midwives told me it wasn’t the first time they’d heard of this kind of treatment. I had such a beautiful birth and it was shat on immediately afterwards. I was so vulnerable and treated so poorly.

“When I was discharged my midwives saw me at home for a couple of days in a row and she was visibly less jaundice; my milk was doing its job. I saw my midwives for five weeks which was great; I had so much support. They also checked my stitches because they were quite itchy and I was worried they were infected.

“It was a funny turn of events but it all ended well.”

Topics Discussed

biliblanket, hospital readmission, Jaundice, light therapy, MGP, One baby

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