Dear Aunty Tina, Why do I have to give vitamin K to my baby after he is born?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all newborns receive vitamin K soon after birth. Vitamin K is given to prevent a condition called hemorrhagic disease of the newborn (HDN). HDN is the inability of the blood to clot normally, so the baby bruises and bleeds excessively. Vitamin K is essential for normal blood clotting and is produced by the bacteria in the intestines. As babies are born with sterile intestines, it takes about a week for the vitamin K to be produced. This is not a good situation if the baby is bruised or injured during birth or is going to get circumcised. I have always thought there may be a very legitimate reason why we are born with little vitamin K in our bodies but we just haven’t figured it out yet.
There are two different ways to administer the vitamin K – injection or orally. I prefer the oral method in order to avoid the discomfort and possible complication associated with using the needle. But there are disadvantages to giving it orally too, as it does not taste that good and the baby may spit it up and it must be repeated at the 3 day visit.
The mother can take Capsella Bursa-Pastoris, which is more commonly known as Shepherd’s Purse after giving birth. This herb will help them not to bleed too strongly themselves and will also be passed onto the baby through their breast milk. The mother can also take vitamin K in her last month of pregnancy in the form of vitamin K2 supplements, which you can buy at any of the local health food stores. Soybeans, leafy greens, broccoli and parsley are all high in vitamin K too.