The gentlebirth.org website is provided courtesy of
Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.
Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy
These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.
I am trying to help a lady from the Netherlands with a question about
vitamin K. Doctors in her country are saying the breastmilk is lacking
in vit K and that breastfed babies need to be supplemented. I found it
interesting that in her country that babies are not given vit. K at birth
but mothers are being told to give it to the babies on a regular basis
It's true! Breastmilk and colostrum have LOW levels of vitamin K. Breastfed
babies who do not receive supplemental vit. K have low levels of both vitamin
K and certain important blood clotting factors. In rare cases, this can
lead to newborn hemorrhagic disease. This disorder is life-threatening
and can cause permanent brain damage in some babies who survive. It's so
easy to prevent--either with one intramuscular dose of vitamin K on the
day of birth or with a series of oral doses. Human milk is the best food
for human babies. But it IS low in vitamin K.
Found my source for this statement. First of all, just to clarify, breastmilk
*is* low in vitamin K, but this is not a deficiency, nor is it a hazard
for the newborn. We were taught that the gut utilizes bacteria in the synthesis
of vitamin K. Because formula is extremely processed and sterilized, etc.
in its manufacture, it takes the formula-fed infant longer to build up
enough of these friendly bacteria than it does in the breastfed infant.
The substance lactoferrin in breastmilk helps the "digestive system [to
be] colonized with non-pathogenic bacteria" which are necessary for the
infant to synthesize her own vitamin K. My source for this is the "Resource
Notebook for the Breastfeeding Educator Program", 1995 edition, by Debbie
Bocar, RN, BSN, BSS, MEd, MSN, IBCLC (and probably Doctor of Education
by now; she was working on it last year at the time of the course). She
gives her source as "Edwards 1994" but I can't find the complete reference
for this; still looking!
I won't quote the entire last piece of good information on Vitamin K, but I wanted to add Anne Frye's comments to the discussion: From UNDERSTANDING DIAGNOSTIC TESTS DURING THE CHILDBEARING YEAR, 5th Ed. pages 648, 649... The emphasis, is my own (don't know how to do italics in e-mail)
"Other studies have shown that cord blood lacks detectable vitamin K (Shearer, 1982). In addition, breast-milk from the UNSUPPLEMENTED mother contains a small amount. Administration of 1 mg. IV vitamin K to laboring women produces very low plasma cord blood levels. IS NATURE INSULATING THE NEWBORN FROM HIGH LEVELS OF VITAMIN K FOR REASONS YET TO BE DISCOVERED? JUST BECAUSE WE HAVEN'T FIGURED OUT WHY DOES NOT MAKE THIS A PATHOLOGICAL EVENT. We must always beware of science's attempts to improve upon nature. Remember, that's how they sold us on bottlefeeding and hospital birth in the first place!
Science has yet to answer why the newborn does not have adult levels of clotting factors, why s/he receives low levels of maternal vitamin K both before and after birth, and why the normal newborn may produce a CLOTTING INHIBITOR. (Some symptomatic babies, no doubt, suffer from high levels of the heparin-like inhibitor. Unfortunately, no differential diagnosis is done to determine if a baby is having clotting difficulties since all babies are treated prophylactically.) What does vitamin K do to the vast majority of newborns who do not have a hemorrhagic problem? The fact that too much vitamin K may cause hemolysis evokes questions regarding vitamin K's stress on the liver, and whether the production of certain clotting factors are low at birth to facilitate the immature liver's metabolism of bilirubin. (Perhaps vitamin K overrides the heparin-like inhibitor commonly present, promoting what amounts to abnormal clotting for a newborn?)"
Anyway, folks, I definitely don't think Anne is against giving vitamin
K and neither am I; however, I think the jury is still out on this one
and we may not have enough information for a while for a "final say".....
What do y'all think?
You really made a light bulb go on! Do you think it could have anything
to do with the fetal circulation transition to newborn circulation. Keeping
the sticky platelets etc of normal clotting away from all of those shunts,
etc? Maybe I'm just grasping at straws, but it may be God's little fix
to strokes and DVT's in his early trials (tee,hee)
By definition, midwives are supposed to trust a woman's body to birth
and nurture her child without intervention.
To some extent I have to agree with you. It seems bizarre that the almighty ( or Darwinian selection ) has produced an off-spring who has a tendency to experience adverse effects of a vitamin despite a normal diet. Unfortunately this is how it is. Breastmilk is particularly deficient in vitamin K.
Haemolytic disease of the newborn is not common. When it does occur it is very seriously life-threatening. As vitamin K is so cheap and now shown to be safe I can see no argument for not using it.
Failing to offer vit K is a similar form of nihilism to not advocating
Could it be because the liver of a newborn is not yet ready to handle
the increased production of prothrombin? I definitely see an increase in
jaundice in the babies we give vit k.
Since I have stopped;
1/ cutting or clamping the cord until birth of the placenta or at least cord has ceased pulsating
2/ Giving routine Vitamin 'K' or konakion whether im or oral I have not had a case of neonatal jaundice Maybe a tinge yellow day 3 but that is normal physiological.
|About the Midwife Archives / Midwife Archives Disclaimer|