The routine administration of vitamin K has held many questions for me since I had my first child and declined the injection after his birth. My husband and I had done our research and felt that if he had a normal birth, with out instrumental assistance, then his chances of being injured in birth or developing a bleeding illness were very low. I know the incidences of a baby being born with vitamin K deficient bleeding is 1 in 10,000 and that even then there is no surety that these babies will develop fatal brain bleeds, so why are we as midwives pushing the herd mentality of vitamin k administration at birth? (http://www.asph.nhs.uk/attachments/153_Vitamin%20K%20-%20A%20Parents%20Guide.pdf)
It is known and understood that vit K does not pass easily from the mothers blood stream to the new born infant but it does pass easily through breast milk. So if a mother chooses to breast feed her baby then why are not focusing more on supporting the mother to naturally increase her vit K levels in her diet so that she is able to supply the vit K needed to her new baby? This is what is done in our clinic, a list of vit K rich foods is given to our mothers and they are encouraged, if they decide to forgo the more traditional and medical approach of giving artificial vit K to their babies, to build their natural supplies in preparation for feeding their babies.
This approach works well for us and many of our parents chose to administer vit K to their babies in this way. Of course our case load is small and I do understand in large hospitals or large case load community settings, it is not this simple, but the question is still a valid one. If a small percent of parents giving birth in a hospital or community setting chose to opt out of artificial vit K administration, what other information are they given? Are they being made aware of the importance of diet and breastfeeding when considering opting out of vit K administration? I think for the most part that they are not. I feel as midwives, we could do more to think of normality not just in birth but shortly after, as we do when encouraging skin to skin and breast feeding. If we can help to guide parents decisions by providing alternative information about vit K administration maybe this would be a further impetus to encourage more mothers to breast feed their babies. Even if this is not the case, being aware of and sharing this information is another way of empowering parents to make more natural and healthy choices for the well being of their babies.
Just a thought
List of Vit K rich foods
Leafy green vegetables such as (kale, collard greens, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, parsley, asparagus, lettuce, endive, okra, and mustard greens), Red cabbage, avocado, dill pickles, leeks, celery, artichokes, peas,
Low amounts of Vitamin K can be found in
tomatoes, blueberries, apricots, sweet potatoes, egg yolks, tofu, navy beans, cantaloupe, peaches, grapes, apples,carrots, bananas and oats