The saying is you live and you learn, that's very true. I've learned a few things since I had Parks and I'm definitely planning on doing a few things differently with Reese. The more I learn about pregnancy and childbirth and simply the way God designed our bodies the more in awe I am of his perfect creation and the more determined I am not to interfere with it! Some of the current "practices" regarding childbirth and early infant medical care are unsettling when you learn a little more about them. I have had my fair share of moments when I've wanted to give an earful to the AAP and the medical community in general (at least those who encourage and uphold these practices). The more I educate myself, the more I have lost confidence in medical "professionals". Here are a few things that I will be doing differently this time.
1. The routine application of antibiotics (silver nitrate or erythromycin) on newborns eye shortly after birth. I didn't know any better with Parks because they told me it was to protect the baby from "bacteria" in the birth canal. Ok, sure I thought. They didn't tell me it was ONLY to protect the baby against gonorrhea or chlamydia. Well, unless you are in some sort of a precarious situation most women are certain of their status as far as this is concerned. Not to mention, they routinely test for this in the beginning of your pregancy! If you do not have any STDS, there is NO reason your baby should receive these irritating drops and have his vision and connection with you blurred. What really bothers me about this whole thing is that the doctors are not up front with you about what is happening and why. You have to educate yourself and be prepared to advocate for your baby, sometimes very strongly with aggressive doctors and nurses.
2. The routine administering of a Vitamin K shot immediately after birth. This isssue is a bit more complicated than the eye ointment. It requires some in-depth research that I'm not going to go into here. But essentially, newborns are given a routine shot of vitamin K after birth to prevent a blood clotting disorder that affects 1 in 10,000 babies which can result in death or brain damage. There are certain risk factors that increase the baby's chances of having this disorder including drugs taken by the mother during pregnancy. The dosage of Vitamin K given at birth is 20,000 times the baby's natural level. According to an article from the Canadian Pediatric Society, "Although no significant complications after 420,000 intramuscular injections of vitamin K to newborns were reported (8), the psychological effects of intramuscular injections on newborn infants and their parents are unknown. It has been reported that pain experienced during the neonatal period may have long term effects (9,10)." Oral doses of Vitamin K for the baby are available if you want to skip the vitamin K shot, but of course no one tells you this. Again, what troubles me here is the blanket policy of vitamin K injections for everyone and how nothing seems adequately tested and no one tells you your options. There are preservatives that could be toxic in the injection and as a mother my common sense says, "leave the baby alone!" If supplementation through oral doses (which are much lower and natural than a shot that raises them by 20,000x) are available, my decision is no for this shot.
3. The routine administering of the Hepatitis B vaccine after birth. This one is truly outrageous to me. I'm honestly so mad at myself for not having done more research prior to Parks' birth on this one, I starting researching vaccines right before his 1 month appointment when I knew I would be faced with some decisions. I had no idea that they would start the standard AAP vaccinations the DAY HE WAS BORN. But oh yes, they do (read my thoughts on the AAP vaccination schedule here). Unless you speak up, your baby will receive the first round of the Hep B vaccine within a day or two of his birth. Hepatitis B is transmitted like an STD or through a blood transfusion. Obviously, there are some medical instances that could put a baby or child in the situation of needing a blood transfusion and I would certainly see the need for vaccinating at that point. But, to routinely start a vaccine that can only be transmitted sexually or via blood transfusion on the day of birth is totally out of control! A newborns' system and body is so delicate that to bombard it with a foreign substance and potentially toxic chemicals like aluminum and formaldehyde (both are in the Hep B vaccine) seems assanine to anyone with an ounce of common sense! Why is this common practice?!
Combine these three practices together and that's a lot of potentially unneccesary medical intervention in a baby's first 24 hours of life! Plus, the exposure to some questionable or downright dangerous substances. I have to wonder if Parks' "newborn rash" might have been due to the vitamin K or the Hepatitis B vaccine he received at birth.
I get a little worked up about this stuff because it just shows that you can't be as trusting as you thought (or hoped) with your medical decisions. I know some wonderful doctors and nurses and I am not trying to disrespect them, but I think it's clear that certain "common practices" are in need of re-evaluation. At the very least, health care providers should provide you with more information regarding your choices on these matters instead of bombarding you with a one-size-fits-all approach. The point is, you have to educate yourself. Responsible parenting starts when you are pregnant. When I say that, I don't mean that if you don't come to the same conclusions I have then you are irresponsible. I do, however, think it is our job to be informed about what is happening to our children and to decide for yourself what you think is best and know why. Some of the best ways I've gotten information is to simply ask other mothers for tips and info and I read some great blogs that align with my general childrearing philosophy. Honestly, I have gotten exposed to a lot of great information regarding childbirth and infant care through the blogs I read, most of which are listed on the right hand side of my blog. Only you can advocate for your baby. If you're like me, your instinct tells you that God knew best when he designed babies and the way they work and unless there is a clear, pressing need the best thing is to not interfere with his design. I hope this information is helpful if you're expecting or considering having a baby in the future!