Newborn Vitamin K & Eye Prophylaxis

Newborn Vitamin K & Eye Prophylaxis

There are two medications routinely given to newborns born in U.S. hospitals in the immediate postpartum period (i.e. first 6 hours after birth). With Motherland Midwifery you will need to make an informed choice about if you want these medications administered to your newborn. This information, along with our discussions during your visits, will help you make your informed choice about if you would like these medications given to your baby.

Vitamin K (section coming soon!)

Newborn eye prophylaxis

Newborn eye prophylaxis refers to the practice of eye drops or ointment containing an antibiotic medication being placed in a newborn’s eyes after birth. This is required by law to protect the baby from an unknown Gonorrhea or Chlamydia infection in the mother’s body. The primary signs of an eye infection (conjunctivitis) in a newborn are redness and swelling of the lids and sclera of the eye.

Erythromycin ointment is the antibiotic most commonly used and we do carry this ointment if you choose to have your baby receive this preventative treatment immediately after the birth.

This blog post from Evidence Based Birth provides thorough information about this procedure and its risks, benefits and alternatives.

Alternative Treatments

Screening and treating for Gonorrhea or Chlamydia in pregnancy is a very good way to prevent spreading these infections to your baby. Most women will experience some kind of symptoms with both of these infections, but risk factors such as multiple sexual partners can increase the chance of undiagnosed vaginal infections.

Most babies are born with their tear ducts still closed. Without tears, they are unable to rinse their eyes of dust and other irritants. We usually recommend a few drops of your breast milk as a “rinse” of the crusty discharge that often develops in your baby’s eyes during the first few weeks of life.  This discharge can be clear or yellow and does not indicate an infection is present.

Good handwashing  (especially after diapering) is an important component of reducing exposure to unfriendly bacteria.  If your baby does develop an eye infection, antibiotic treatment is still an option, as well as herbal rinses of chamomile, eye bright, echinacea, and goldenseal, and homeopathic euphrasia.

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