My Baby Is Jaundiced: What Should I Do? The Answer Is Here…

Lois Wattis

Mar 09, 2023

Photography By GM Photographics

Babies with jaundice is common, and a worrying concern for parents. Here, midwife Lois Wattis explains the condition and how to care for your little one… 

Midwife and lactation consultant Lois Wattis has worked with new parents and newborns for over 18 years, so she knows a thing or two about babies. In her new eBook and App, New Baby 101 – A Midwife’s Guide for New Parents, Lois puts all that wisdom into an essential how-to guide for parents, addressing their most frequently asked questions and concerns. “I work on a maternity ward in a specialist Lactation Consultancy role with new parents and newborns, so I am well aware of the pressure parents experience when they have all the responsibilities of caring for their newborn,” explains Lois. “I wrote this book because I know the questions new parents ask, and how difficult it is for them to retain all the information they need in the few days they are in hospital. New Baby 101 – A Midwife’s Guide For New Parents is for parents negotiating the steep learning curve encountered during the early weeks of parenting a new baby, providing them with detailed and reliable guidance.”

My baby is Jaundiced – what should I do?

Most newborn babies have some jaundice (yellow-ish skin) temporarily, from Day 2 to Day 7 of life. This is called physiological jaundice and happens as a result of baby’s natural adjustment to life outside the womb. The unborn baby needs more red blood cells to carry oxygen than he needs after birth when he is taking oxygen into his system through his lungs. As excess red blood cells are broken down by the body one of the molecules which break off is a fat soluble yellow-pigment molecule called bilirubin. The baby’s liver and kidneys can’t process all of the bilirubin at once and some bilirubin molecules find their way to the fatty tissue under the skin (making the skin look yellow) and also the fatty tissue of the brain (making the baby sleepy).

If the condition is mild and baby continues to wake up for feeds every few hours, and does plenty of wee and poo to excrete the bilirubin molecules, jaundice does not cause any problems. If the baby becomes very sleepy as a result of bilirubin in his bloodstream he should be woken for feeds if he does not self-waken, and he may need stimulation and prompting to continue feeding properly after latching.

New parents need to be aware of the importance of baby taking frequent and effective feeds if he is jaundiced. If baby is allowed to sleep for long periods the bilirubin builds up in the bloodstream skin and brain and elimination from baby’s system slows down because  baby’s output (wee and poo) slow down with infrequent feeding. If baby is too sleepy to breastfeed he should be given milk by syringe and finger feeds and medical help sought immediately. Blood tests need to be done to determine if the bilirubin levels in baby’s bloodstream are excessive, and if they are high phototherapy (light) treatment must be commenced without delay, as jaundice in its advanced form can be life-threatening to baby.

Want more advice from midwife Lois Wattis?

How do I know my breastfed baby is getting enough food?

Why is it so important to keep track of baby’s output?

What is the correct way to give bottle feeds?

Do I need to burp my baby after every feed?


About Lois

Lois Wattis has been a Midwife for 20 years, a Registered Nurse for 23 years and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant for 15 years.  Lois also practiced as an accredited Independently Practising Midwife (IPM) in Western Australia for five years. Lois currently works at Nambour General Hospital as a specialist Clinical Midwife Lactation Consultant as well as providing private Lactation Consultancy services via ‘Babymooon Home Visits’ on the Sunshine Coast Qld

Over the past decade Lois has provided education for midwives via Australian and international professional journals, and as a speaker at midwifery and parenting conferences around Australia.

Lois’ experience is broad, and her focus is now on supporting parents negotiating the steep learning curve as they care for their new baby. Lois’ book which includes 5 videos “New Baby 101 – A Midwife’s Guide for New Parents” is available from her website and her New Baby 101 App is available for smartphones via Google Play and iTunes Appstore.

Visit for details.

Has Lois helped answer some of your newborn questions? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!


By Lois Wattis

Lois Wattis has been a Midwife for 15 years, a Registered Nurse for 18 years and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant for 10 years. Lois has provided a private postnatal service, ‘Babymooon Home Visits’, in Queensland since 2005. Lois also practiced as an accredited Independently Practising Midwife (IPM) in Western Australia for five years providing primary midwifery care and attending home births with the Community Midwifery Program, employed by the Health Department of Western Australia. This Government funded service offers care by a midwife from early pregnancy and throughout, attending the home birth and providing postnatal care for 6 weeks. This program is the model that the newly developed Eligible Midwife accreditation system has been based on and adopted nationally, allowing midwives to care for well women throughout the childbirth continuum, and provision of Medicare bulk billing for services and prescribing rights. Lois has been published internationally in midwifery journals and Midwifery Best Practice edited by Sara Wickham, providing professional education to other midwives. Lois’ contribution to midwifery education was acknowledged at the International Confederation of Midwives in 2004 when she was awarded a Fellow of the Australian College of Midwives. Lois’ experience is broad, and her focus is now on supporting parents negotiating the steep learning curve as they care for their new baby. Visit for more details.



The Carousel