Saturday, December 10, 2011

Vitamin K and the Newborn - Another Perspective

Like most mothers who are into natural birth, I have always avoided the newborn vitamin K shot - and still plan to do so with this coming birth. To me, it makes sense that if all infants are born with lowered vitamin K levels, then they are meant to do so for a good reason. It's kind of like cord clamping - if mammals were meant to have immediate cord clamping, then their cords would clamp immediately on their own. Physiology doesn't need improvement. In other words, the normal, functioning, healthy body does not need routine artificial intervention. (We would use the vitamin K shot in case of a physically traumatic birth.)

This past summer, though, I met a lovely local midwife who has a slightly different take on vitamin K shots. She told me that while she, too, used to avoid them, she now recommends routine vitamin K administration in her practice.

The reason?

Simply the fact that - based on a study that she reviewed - American diets are abysmally low in vitamin K (which is found primarily in dark, leafy greens - definitely one of many weaknesses in the typical American diet), and thus our newborns have lower vitamin K levels at birth than even normal newborns are supposed to have - putting them at risk.

The midwife told me that while she now recommends the shot, she still much prefers that mothers just improve their diets to include more natural sources of vitamin K, and therefore be able to provide their infants with the nutrient naturally rather than artificially.

Interesting stuff!

We're still not planning on giving the vitamin K shot, but I am doing my best to increase my vitamin K intake. Since I'm still nauseated and green smoothies are not exactly appealing right now, I have just started supplementing with alfalfa tablets, which are supposedly a great source of vitamin K. In fact, I need to go take some right now!

What do you think?


  1. hmmm... very interesting.. thanks for sharing that info!

  2. alternatively, from my knowledge all studies on vit k levels of the newborns are from hospital based birth studies, not homebirth. i.e. early cord clamping. i.e. the baby isn't getting all of it's circulating blood supply it had in utero.

    it's interesting to think about, it would be interesting to see if delayed cord clamping increases the vit k levels in the newborn.

    i'm in WA now and vit k IM is pretty much routine. no real discussion about using oral drops, but recognized that the US is the only industrialized country that routinely administers vit k to newborns.

    in Europe, the UK and Canada, oral vit k is an acceptable alternative, or the norm for what they offer. vitamin k deficiency of the newborn is a real thing, and babies that become sick, get real sick and it tends to be cranial hemorrhages that may go unnoticed before seeking help. it's sad and unfortunate.

    i want to see some good long term studies on the effects of IM vit k. to my knowledge there are none, and this type of vit k has only been given since the 90's.

    tangent over.

    good topic.


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