For some moms, giving their newborn the Vitamin K shot immediately after birth isn’t even questioned – but what if I told you it was worth learning more about to figure out if your baby really needs it?
Most doctors administer this shot without even asking the parents, it’s that much of a “given” in hospital protocol. But is it safe?
The shot is given to babies with the intention that it will help them start clotting blood right away, since normally babies are not clotting blood until the 8th day. This practice was started in large part because circumcision began to be performed right away instead of on day 8 (the way those of the Jewish faith do it). Sidenote: great reasoning to wait until day 8 to circumcise, if you’re doing it.
Do baby’s need Vitamin K? Most do, that first week can be helped along with it if baby is born with low levels. Do they need a synthetic version of it in a shot? Not at all.
Why does baby need K? To avoid Hemorrhagic Disease. This disease is very rare (incidence of 0.25 percent to 1.7 percent). How does baby become higher risk for this disease? Here’s how:
- Preterm delivery
- Low birth weight
- A forceps or vacuum extraction delivery
- Mother’s use of antibiotics, anticoagulants, anticonvulsants, and some other medications during pregnancy
- Undetected liver disease
- Extremely fast, or extremely prolonged labor, particularly during the pushing phase
- Delivery by C-section
Why is the shot a bad idea? In addition to it being a synthetic vitamin that the baby’s liver has a lot of trouble working on before day 3-4, the ingredients of the shot include:
- Phenol (carbolic acid – a poisonous substance derived from coal tar)
- Benzyl alcohol (preservative)
- Propylene glycol (better known as antifreeze and a hydraulic in brake fluid)
- Acetic acid (astringent, antimicrobial agent)
- Hydrochloric acid
- Castor oil
So what can we do? There is the option of oral Vit K – in my opinion way better for baby than a traumatic needle stick. Another option? Help the baby be born with all the Vit K possible!
- By eating a ton of leafy greens and healthy dairy (i.e. full fat, organic, ideally raw) in the last few weeks of pregnancy you can bulk up the baby with natural Vit K.
- Delay the cord clamping (write this into your birth plan!) so that baby can get all the Vit K from the cord as well.
- Delay circumcision until day 8 (or don’t do it at all)
and you will more than prevent your baby from being born needing help with Vit K levels!