Many moms go into the hospital with a birth plan. I loved making this for my hospital birth and it allowed me to feel in control throughout my labor and delivery. Some mama’s know some of the things they would prefer, but some other routine practices might slip the minds of new mothers. One routine practice I did a lot of research on was the vitamin K shot. After short deliberation, I chose to opt out.
Why is Vitamin K Necessary?
Vitamin K is an essential nutrient necessary for responding to injuries. Newborns are born deficient in vitamin K and we know that it regulates normal blood clotting. In newborns, adequate Vitamin K levels are needed to prevent Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB), a rare but life-threatening condition that can cause uncontrolled bleeding, sometimes into the brain. It is important to know the three main deficiency that can occur.
Several factors contribute to the low levels of vitamin K in newborns: First, the maternal supply of the vitamin doesn’t cross the placental wall easily. Second, the immature liver of the newborn (particularly in premature infants) not only can’t store much vitamin K but also doesn’t use it well.
The vitamin K injection is not a vaccine. However it has been the subject of some controversy because, like vaccines, it injects the infant with foreign substances and chemicals that challenge the infant’s immature system. The vitamin K shot uses a synthetic form of the vitamin and the dosage given is much higher than the recommended daily dosage for adults.
Three types of Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding:
- Early VKDB presents within 24 hours of birth. It is “almost exclusively seen in infants of mothers taking drugs which inhibit vitamin K. These drugs include anticonvulsants (carbamazepine, phenytoin and barbiturates), antituberculosis drugs (isoniazid, rifampicin), some antibiotics (cephalosporins) and vitamin K antagonists (coumarin, warfarin). “
- Classic VKDB presents between day 1 and day 7 of life and is associated with delayed or insufficient feeding. It usually affects the gastrointestinal tract, skin, nose, gums, umbilical stump and circumcision site, if applicable.
- Late VKDB presents between week 2 and six months, with the majority of cases occurring between 3-8 weeks of age. Late VKDB has the highest mortality rate of all types and is more likely to lead to neurological damage, but it is also the most rare.
Is Breastmilk High in Vitamin K?
We see that vitamin K is relitively low in nursing mothers. But that doesn’t mean that our diets cannot provide adequate vitamin K to our babies through breastfeeding. In an incredible study, Dr. Weston A. Price studied the diets of traditional cultures, he discovered what he called “Activator X,” which was found in the special foods “given to pregnant and lactating women, as well as to the maturing boys and girls, in preparation for future parenthood.
Interestingly, “When Dr. Price analyzed the foods used by isolated primitive peoples he found that they provided at least four times the calcium and other minerals, and at least TEN times the fat-soluble vitamins from animal foods such as butter, fish eggs, shellfish and organ meats.” (source) In other words, their Vitamin K intake was probably at least ten times higher than ours.