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5 Big New-Mom Decisions

3. JAUNDICE WATCH

This condition can cause high anxiety the first week at home. If you start seeing yellow -- that is, a yellowish tinge to your baby's skin and the whites of her eyes (regardless of race) -- you're not alone: Jaundice occurs in at least 50 percent of all new-borns, and though most cases are mild and quickly resolved, it can be serious if left untreated. What's happening: An excess of bilirubin has built up in your baby's body, thanks to her immature liver and digestive tract. Bilirubin is a normal product that occurs when old red blood cells break down and pass through the liver, intestines, and then out into your baby's diaper.

Most cases of jaundice peak three to five days after birth (preemies may peak a few days later) and go away on their own, with the help of those 24/7 feedings you'll be doing and your bambina's subsequent poopings; both will help the bilirubin to pass through her system. Here's how to check for it: Gently press down on your newborn's skin, then look to see if there's a yellowish tint on the spot underneath.

Your pediatrician will want to evaluate your baby if you see signs of jaundice. A simple blood stick, drawn from the heel, can determine her bilirubin levels; if they're on the high side, the doctor may recommend placing your baby under phototherapy lights to help break down the bilirubin. Discuss a plan of action with your physician, who will want to keep tabs on your baby's levels for the next few days.

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