Vitamin K is given to pregnant women near the end of the third trimester, and to newborns immediately after birth. But some parents are opting out of the vitamin K boost for their bundle of joy. The question is, should you include vitamin K shots for your baby as part of your birth plan?
Why would they refuse? It makes you wonder if your birth plan needs to mention it.
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin with three variations—K1, K2, K3—that’s most concentrated in leafy greens, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. It’s crucial to blood-clotting, bone building, preventing heart disease, healing skin conditions, and absorption of vitamin D. It crosses the placenta and is present in breast milk.
And, it’s necessary to prevent bleeding in newborns, and why it’s routinely given to babies immediately at birth. A comprehensive birth plan should include your decision about whether your baby receives the shot, or not.
Because of vitamin K’s blood-clotting ability, pregnant women are routinely given the K1 shot to reduce bleeding during birth and postpartum. But the shot you should mention in your birth plan is the one given to your baby.
THERE ARE TWO OPINIONS ON WHETHER IT’S NECESSARY
On one side is standard medical practice that says, yes, vitamin K injections are necessary. They ensure new babies (especially exclusively breastfed babies or those of mothers taking antiepileptic, blood-thinning, or tuberculosis drugs) have enough after birth. It prevents bleeding complications called “vitamin K deficiency bleeding” (VKDB).
Standard medicine says that, in 1961 the vitamin K shot became routine, and the rate of babies developing life-threatening VKDB fell dramatically. From this point of view the question is, why wouldn’t my birth plan include consent for this?
But the other opinion on the issue – promoted by Dr. Joseph Mercola and his followers – says there are reasons to state in your birth plan that you refuse the shot for your newborn:
- the dose is massive (20,000 times the typical baby’s level at birth)
- the injection contains preservatives and toxic ingredients like aluminum
- baby could be traumatized by getting the shot.
If you agree, your birth plan should state that you do not want your baby to get the shot.
To make the best choice, talk to your midwife or doctor. Most midwives, doctors, and hospitals want you and baby to get the shot, because 54 years of history and statistics show that vitamin K—and especially the shot—is a life-saver.
No matter which way you fly on this issue, make sure your birth plan has a clear statement of your desire for your baby. Give a copy of your birth plan to your doctor for your file, and bring another copy in your hospital bag, in case you need it.
To learn more about postpartum birth choices, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.
This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner. These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.
Published: August 19, 2015 | Reviewed by: Kim Walls, Natural Products Expert, Elizabeth Bachner, LM, CPM, L.Ac., Midwife | Last reviewed: August, 2015