Monday, June 27, 2011

The Routine Use of the Vitamin K Shot

The Vitamin K shot is routinely given to a newborn proactively to promote blood coagulation in the event that the newborn experiences bleeding. Babies are placed in harm’s way by the mother’s choices to use anesthesia and antibiotics, particularly since spinal anesthesia at the birth, antibiotic use by the mother during pregnancy, and a traumatic birth are all believed to contribute to a newborn’s bleeding. Assessing a baby’s needs on an individual basis may avoid the unnecessary use of the Vitamin K shot on a newborn.

Spinal anesthesia given to a laboring mother-to-be can cause hemorrhage in the newborn. At the very least, an expectant mother could ask to read the paperwork that comes with a drug like bupivicaine long before labor to ascertain if she really wants to subject her fetus to the possible side effects. After all, reading the insert of the actual product a doctor may administer is truly informed consent. Because education and training could achieve a different outcome, perhaps weekly Bradley Method classes for expectant parents would help ensure a drugless birthing process. The Bradley Method supports active participation in the birthing process for home or hospital births and can help the father-to-be feel competent and supportive, thus helping the mother to avoid drugs, and possibly helping the baby to avoid needing the Vitamin K shot.

When a woman gives birth in her home environment where her body is familiar with the local germs, there is definitely a reduced need for antibiotics compared with that of a hospital, especially when the circulating air and the laundry (her hospital bed sheets being washed with all manner of germy bed sheets) are taken into consideration. In birthing at home or in a birthing clinic, precautions involving sterilization and cleanliness will be put into place with the support of the midwife. Possibly before conceiving, the mother-to-be can research the many valuable drug-free solutions to various maladies, so ideas can be easily put into practice should the need for a “medicine” arise during pregnancy.

Since Vitamin K is produced by beneficial bacteria, antibiotic use by the mother can lead directly to newborn bleeding because it lowers her beneficial bacteria count, which some researchers feel is unfortunate for the fetus in two ways. First, being exposed to the mother’s bacteria-laden feces at birth may help the baby’s intestinal flora to make Vitamin K. Also, according to some experts, the mom’s antibiotic use will lower the baby’s intestinal flora via the antibiotic’s crossing the placenta. Babies reportedly make two clotting factors close to their due date, right before birth. Vitamin K acts in the liver and, unfortunately, while the child is still connected to the mother, the baby’s liver’s ability to produce blood clotting factors is inhibited by the delivering mother’s antibiotic use. With no maternal antibiotic use, the newborn’s need for the Vitamin K shot is greatly reduced.

To be sure, the births that take place in hospitals are more violent, since labor often has to be started again once the mother-to-be arrives, and the environment is very controlled, with the mother being hooked up to machines and gadgets. As a result, forceps, suction, C-sections, and premature clamping of the umbilicus occur at a higher frequency in hospital settings, and these procedures may lead to internal bleeding in the newborn.

Prevention is not always routinely administering something in order to possibly stop something bad from happening. It’s analyzing why something bad may occur in the first place and not allowing it to happen. If a newborn’s needs were assessed on an individual basis, the routine and unnecessary use of this shot may be avoided.




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