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Should My Newborn Get A Vitamin K Shot?

on June 19 | in Birth | by | with 112 Comments

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So, You Have A Plan

Maybe it involves a hot rock massage as you sway back and forth on your birth ball, or fresh, clean sheets made up just for you at a mother-friendly hospital. You’ve decided whether to delay cord clamping and who gets to catch the baby, but you’re stuck on the vitamin K shot.

On the one hand, you have a feeling that our bodies are pretty wise, and if vitamin K is naturally low in newborns maybe there’s a good reason. On the other, you know that 100% breastfed babies are the most likely to suffer from life-threatening Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB). It’s confusing to say the least.

Today I’m going to share my personal process in deciding whether my three children would receive the Vitamin K shot, oral Vitamin K, or no supplementation. Please keep in mind that “Best Boo-Boo Kisser South Of Puckett’s Gas Station” is about as official as things get for me professionally.  I am not a doctor, this is not medical advice, and your decision is completely up to you. If you need some convincing on this, read my full disclaimer where I say it over and over again. Okay, let’s jump in!

“K” is For Koagulation

Metal letterVitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that derives it’s name from the German word “koagulation.” (source) As you’ve probably guessed, that’s because it’s essential for helping blood clot appropriately when needed.

In newborns, adequate Vitamin K levels are needed to prevent Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB), a rare but life-threatening condition that cause cause uncontrolled bleeding, sometimes into the brain.

There are 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.

(Source1, Source 2)

What Are The Risk Factors?

The primary risk factors of Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding are thought to be:

  • Breastfeeding – More on this below.
  • Maternal Use Of Medications, Including Antibiotics – As mentioned above in the section on early VKDB, “Antibiotics, particularly a class known as cephalosporins, reduce the absorption of vitamin K in the body. Long-term use (more than 10 days) of antibiotics may result in vitamin K deficiency because these drugs kill not only harmful bacteria but also beneficial, vitamin K-activating bacteria. This is most likely to occur in people who already have low levels of vitamin K or are at risk for deficiency (such as those who are malnourished, elderly, or taking warfarin). (source) Other medications can also interfere with Vitamin K.
  • Certain Health Conditions – If baby has undiagnosed cholestasis (liver problems), diarrhea, hepatitis, cystic fibrosis (CF), celiac disease, or alpha – 1-antitrypsin deficiency, or a genetic variation affecting Vitamin K absorption, they may be at increased risk for VKDB. (source)

Other factors are preterm delivery, low birth weight, and possibly traumatic delivery. Antibiotics given to a newborn may also affect their ability to generate Vitamin K2 within their digestive tract.

Why Is Breastfeeding A Risk Factor?

I’m so glad you asked. According to most healthcare professionals, the answer is that human breast milk is low in Vitamin K.

But WHY is breast milk low in Vitamin K, and is this true for ALL women?

Ahhh, that’s where things get interesting. When 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. Dr. Price found these foods to be very rich in fat soluble vitamins A, vitamin D and Activator X —nutrients found only in animal fats.” (source)

After 60+ years of searching, it was discovered that “Activator X” is Vitamin K2. (source)

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. Given how much the modern diet has eroded, it’s probably more now. 

Why did these cultures emphasize dietary K2 during pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, and breastfeeding? There are probably a lot of reasons, but one of them may have been its affect on VKDB.

Which is better - the Vitamin K shot, oral drops or dietary changes?  Plus 7 things I did to boost my baby's Vitamin K levels. #birth #vitaminkshot

Studies On Vitamin K And Breast Milk

It’s important note before we move forward that Vitamin K comes in two main forms: K1 is found in leafy greens, broccoli, brussel sprouts and other fruits/vegetables. K2 is found in animal products like liver, egg yolks, aged cheeses, butter and even fermented foods that contain live bacterial cultures.

Does supplementing moms with Vitamin K raise the levels found in breast milk?

YES. In this large study with over 3,000 mother-infant pairs, Japanese researchers gave babies oral Vitamin K following birth. Some of the babies did not show sufficient improvement, so they implemented maternal supplementation of 15mg of oral Vitamin K2 to 1,856 of the mothers. This method “showed an effective result,” and the researchers concluded that the “transmission of vitamin K through breast milk would be a suitable method of vitamin K prophylaxis.” Prophylaxis is medical jargon for an action to prevent a disease – in this case, VKDB.

One important feature of this study is that it looked at late VKDB – the type that has the highest rate of mortality and neurological damage. According to the study, babies who received early supplementation sometimes experienced a spike in Vitamin K levels that later dropped and put them at risk for VKDB again.  Since, according to the researchers, it is “well known that in the pathogenesis of this disease [late VKDB] low levels of vitamin K in breast milk play a crucial role,” they decided to find out if supplementing mothers could sustain higher levels long-term. (emphasis mine) The researchers then explained why they opted for Vitamin K2, stating that “vitamin K2 has an approximately twentyfold higher transfer into breast milk from plasma than vitamin K1.”

In the group of infants whose mothers were given Vitamin K2, only two infants (0.11%) were found to have low infant Vitamin K levels, and none of the infants that were exclusively breastfed had low levels. (Presumably this means some of he infants were supplemented with formula) This is remarkable considering that VKDB rates are considered to be particularly high in Asia. Researchers in another study suggested this may be due to poor diet in rural areas, a genetic component that affects Vitamin K absorption, undetected liver disease/malabsorption issues, and/or breastfeeding rates. (source) Note: Asia may not actually have the highest incidence of VKDB – certain developing countries may as well, possibly due to factors like poor diet, but it may be underreported there.

In one study of preterm infants, maternal supplementation of natural Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) raised the content of breast milk to target levels.  (source)

When women consume vitamin K1 – aka the “plant-based” Vitamin K –  their tissues convert part of it into vitamin K2, which is the form prized by the cultures Dr. Price studied. Interestingly, breasts “appear to be especially efficient at making this conversion, presumably because vitamin K2 is essential for the growing infant.” (source 1, source 2) Another study notes that there seems to be a “vitamin K2 concentrating mechanism in the mammary tissue.” (source) In other words, breasts somehow concentrate Vitamin K within mammary glands, presumably to provide this essential vitamin to the baby.

Some researchers have stated their belief that newborn Vitamin K deficiency is likely to be the result of three factors: inadequate dietary intake by the pregnant mother during the last trimester of pregnancy, the fact that babies do not have established gut flora (which produces Vitamin K internally), and inadequate intake by baby after birth.

How Does Colostrum Compare To Regular Breast Milk?

Colostrum – the first milk newborns receive right after birth - contains significantly higher levels of Vitamin K than mature milk. (source)

“In the past, babies were not breastfed till some time after birth, and strict feeding routines were usual; this probably meant that babies got less vitamin K than nature intended. Nowadays, babies are usually breastfeed soon after birth, and they feed frequently for as long and as often as they want. This means they get more colostrum than they used to, reducing the risk of HDN.” (source, emphasis mine)

In other words, unrestricted feeding in the first hour after birth (which is facilitated by skin-to-skin contact) and in the first few days of life may serve as a “quick infusion” of Vitamin K if the mother is eating a nourishing diet and/or taking supplements to ensure she has adequate levels.

Chalk one up for the “wise body” theory.

Does Vitamin K cross the placenta?

YES. According to this study, there seems to be a “highly vitamin K2 specific transport system in the human placenta.” Vitamin K2 transports across the placenta at a higher rate than K1, and activity increases toward the third trimester. As mentioned in the study, “transport of K1 to the fetus is not especially pronounced,” but while many have interpreted this to mean that there is a “problem” with how efficiently Vitamin K is transported, this study suggests the possibility we may just be looking at the wrong version of Vitamin K. (Though I am citing this study directly, I would like to thank the Weston A. Price Foundation for directing me to it in this excellent article)

Interestingly, the type of Vitamin K that crosses better is the one emphasized in the cultures Dr. Price studied.

Would encapsulating my placenta boost Vitamin K?

Ahhh, great question! In my post about encapsulating my placenta I shared the many reasons I chose to go that route with my third baby. Looking back, there’s a potential benefit I wasn’t aware of: Placentas contain Vitamin K. (source) Biologically, it makes sense to me that consuming placenta while breastfeeding could work synergistically to boost baby’s levels.

However, if the ewwww factor was just too high for me, I would have consumed natural Vitamin K supplements instead.

Why are formula-fed babies less likely to suffer from VKDB ?

According to Evidence Based Birth, “There are virtually no reports of VKDB occurring in infants who are formula fed. This is because in contrast to breast milk, formula has relatively high levels of Vitamin K1—55 micrograms per liter.”

According to some sources, formula contains about 100 times more Vitamin K than breast milk – wow! Though this number is startling, it’s important to know most brands – even the top organic brand of formula – contains phytonadione, a synthetic form of Vitamin K. According to the Organic Consumers Association:

“Certain studies on natural vs. synthetic vitamins have shown that synthetic vitamins are 50 to 70% less biologically active than natural vitamins.

Synthetic vitamins are actually just fractions of naturally-occurring vitamins synthesized in the dextro- and levo- forms (known as “right” and “left handed” molecules) which form geometric mirror images of each other. It may seem strange, but the geometry of nutrient compounds is crucial for the bioavailability of the nutrient. The body uses only the levo- forms. Synthetic vitamin compounds have little of the correct geometry (levo-forms) of naturally-occurring vitamins present in food and botanicals. ” (emphasis mine)

So formula contains gobs of Vitamin K, but much of it may not be biologically active. A well-nourished mother (who may be taking natural Vitamin K supplements per the study above) may have less total Vitamin K in her milk, but some experts believe it is will be more optimally absorbed by baby.

Is there wisdom to low Vitamin K levels?

I believe the answer is yes . . . and no. Breast milk was also once considered inferior because it’s naturally low in iron, but as it turns out there’s a reason for that. In her book Real Food for Mother & Baby Nina Planck says:

 “Your milk, and the milk of all mammals, lacks iron. In addition to being iron-poor, milk also contains lactoferrin, which ties up any random iron floating about. At first glance, this seems like an error, given that all living things need iron. With such a firm hand limiting the availability of iron to the nursling we must suspect a deliberate strategy on nature’s part.

Sure enough, there is logic to the missing iron. E. coli, the most common source of infant diarrhea in all species, depends on iron, as do other pathogens. As mentioned in the discussion of prenatal iron supplements, sequestering iron – keeping it out of the way of hungry microbes – is the body’s response to infection.

 A low-iron diet protects newborns from iron-loving microbes. As iron expert Sharon Moalem described it to me, lactoferrin is like an armored truck: it transports iron safely to its destination, protecting it from marauding bacteria. Breast milk, in other words, is iron-poor by design. What iron it contains is easily aborbed by your baby.” (emphasis mine)

So there are times when we assume biological error where there isn’t one. Having said that, I believe the levels we’re now seeing are probably below what’s intended by nature. Vitamin K deficiency bleeding has occurred even when a mother’s Vitamin K levels were “normal,” but based on the work of Dr. Price my guess is that our “normal” is really a very poor representation of healthy Vitamin K status. Remember, the indigenous groups he studied consumed at least ten times the amount of fat soluble vitamins that we do.

So What Are My Options?

Let’s compare the modern medical approach to a nutrient dense diet and oral supplementation.

Newborn Vitamin K Shot

Some people believe that the ingredients in the Vitamin K injection are toxic to a baby’s delicate, immature immune system. Let’s take a look at them:

Ingredients (May vary slightly by manufacturer): 2 mg Phytondione (the synthetic version of phylloquinone), 70 mgs polyoxyethylated fatty acid, 37.5 mgs hydrous dextrose, 9 mg benzyl alcohol, and possibly hydrochloric acid. (source) Note: I believe this dose may be cut in half, since .5 -1 mg Phytondione is usually what’s recommended. This was the amount I saw on a single-dose bottle, though.

Ingredients In The Preservative-Free Version (May vary slightly by manufacturer): 1 mg Phytonadione (the synthetic version of phylloquinone), 10 mg Polysorbate 80, 10.4 mg of Propylene glycol, 0.17 mg of Sodium acetate anhydrous, 0.00002 mL of Glacial acetic acid (source)

Benefits Of The Vitamin K Shot

It is very effective at reducing VKDB.

Risks Associated With The Vitamin K Shot

Severe Reactions, Including Death (Rare)

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Severe reactions, including fatalities, have occurred during and immediately after INTRAVENOUS injection of phytonadione, even when precautions have been taken to dilute the phytonadione and to avoid rapid infusion. Severe reactions, including fatalities, have also been reported following INTRAMUSCULAR administration. Typically these severe reactions have resembled hypersensitivity or anaphylaxis, including shock and cardiac and/or respiratory arrest. Some patients have exhibited these severe reactions on receiving phytonadione for the first time. Therefore the INTRAVENOUS and INTRAMUSCULAR routes should be restricted to those situations where the subcutaneous route is not feasible and the serious risk involved is considered justified.” (bold emphasis mine)

Toxicity

The NLM also states that “Benzyl alcohol as a preservative in Bacteriostatic Sodium Chloride Injection has been associated with toxicity in newborns. Data are unavailable on the toxicity of other preservatives in this age group.” (source, emphasis mine) The NLM also says that there is “no evidence to suggest” that the 9mgs contained in the shot are enough to be toxic. However, one study that specifically examined this issue found that the newborn detoxification system needed to process benzyl alcohol is very immature, adding that they “cannot directly answer the issue of safety of ‘low doses’ of benzyl alcohol as found in some medications administered to neonates.” (source)

Benzyl alcohol has been reported to be associated with a fatal ‘Gasping Syndrome’ in premature infants, says NLM.

It is  unclear whether all preservative versions contain Aluminum, but at least the Hospira version does:

WARNING: This product contains aluminum that may be toxic. Aluminum may reach toxic levels with prolonged parenteral administration if kidney function is impaired. Premature neonates are particularly at risk because their kidneys are immature, and they required large amounts of calcium and phosphate solutions, which contain aluminum.

Research indicates that patients with impaired kidney function, including premature neonates, who receive parenteral levels of aluminum at greater than 4 to 5 mcg/kg/day accumulate aluminum at levels associated with central nervous system and bone toxicity. Tissue loading may occur at even lower rates of administration.

(source)

In other words, they’ve observed damage at 4-5 mcg/kg/day, but it could be collecting in tissues well before that.

Other Problems

NLM also states that hemolysis (the breakdown of red blood cells), jaundice, and hyperbilirubinemia in neonates, particularly those that are premature, may be related to the dose of Vitamin K1 Injection. ” (source)

Pain

A study published in 2004 “found that very early pain or stress experiences have long-lasting adverse consequences for newborns, including changes in the central nervous system and changes in responsiveness of the neuroendocrine and immune systems at maturity.” (source)

Oral Vitamin K-1

download (13)In the U.S., Scientific Botanicals makes an oral K-1 that doesn’t contain any preservatives or synthetic components. K-Quinone is an extract of alfalfa, nettles and green tea that is preserved in a base of olive and soy oil. The soy oil is, unfortunately, not organic. 

Benefits Of Oral Vitamin K-1

According to this study which compared newboran oral Vitamin K regimens in Australia, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland, a “daily low oral dose of 25 micrograms vitamin K1 following an initial oral dose of 1 mg after birth for exclusively breast-fed infants may be as effective as parenteral vitamin K prophylaxis.”

In other words, after a 1 mg dose on the first day, a low dose of 25 mcg per day starting at 1 week through 13 weeks may be as effective as the shot. Many parents prefer this method because it is not painful to the child and does not involve potentially toxic emulsifiers and preservatives.

Risks Associated With Vitamin K-1

Some babies may spit up the Vitamin K. Certain health problems, like undiagnosed cholestasis (liver problems), diarrhea, hepatitis, cystic fibrosis (CF), celiac disease, or alpha – 1-antitrypsin deficiency may affect Vitamin K absorption.

Parents may forget to administer the Vitamin K daily. (Though it’s certainly possible to remember with the help of smartphone reminders, etc)

Maternal Supplementation

Obviously, there is no Cochrane-reviewed study of risks/benefits for this one. Here’s what we know:

1. Breastfeeding is considered a risk factor for VKDB. This may be because modern women are overall deficient in Vitamin K. The populations that Dr. Price studied consumed at least 10x’s the number of fat soluble vitamins that we do.

2. The Vitamin K content of milk increases with a Vitamin-K rich diet and/or supplementation. Babies are at risk for VKDB for the first six months of life, so whatever their source of Vitamin K is needs to be consistently available.

3. Colostrum is higher in Vitamin K content than mature milk – the purpose of this may be to deliver an “infusion” of Vitamin K immediately after birth. Unrestricted feeding practices may increase a newborn’s intake of colostrum. Skin-to-skin contact is thought to be helpful in establishing a good breastfeeding relationship. Moms also might want to check for a tongue or lip tie to increase nursing efficiency.

4. In this study, researchers supplemented moms with Vitamin K-1. What they found was that this increased levels of both K-1 and K-2 in the mother’s breast milk. Unlike other forms of supplementation which focus on just K-1 (synthetic or natural), breast milk contains two forms of Vitamin K.

5. In general, synthetic vitamins are not thought to be as easily utilized by the body as naturally occurring ones.

6. Experts often mention that K-1 does not cross the placenta well. However, it seems less known that Vitamin K-2 crosses the placenta at a higher rate. “When mothers receive injections of vitamin K2, the placenta rapidly accumulates it and then releases it slowly to the fetus over time.” (source 1, source 2)

7. Most mammals consume their placenta after birth. Placenta’s contain Vitamin K. It may be that this is part of an built-in design to provide mothers with a Vitamin K infusion as they begin their breastfeeding journey. I did not encapsulate my placenta with my first two children, but I did with my third. I felt it was beneficial for many reasons, but I would like to note that I craved and scarfed down a lot Vitamin K rich foods following my first two births.

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What I Did With My Three Children

I chose the maternal supplementation method for all three of my pregnancies. Each time I did things a little differently, but here was my approach with my last one:

1. I avoided medications during pregnancy and labor. (This was not difficult to do because I didn’t have any need, but with my first pregnancy it is part of the reason I avoided IV antibiotics during labor. I was GBS+, but I chose a more natural method of treatment)

2. I followed the Weston A. Price recommended diet for pregnant and nursing mothers, which emphasizes Vitamin K2 rich foods.

3. I also drank pregnancy tea, which contains Vitamin K-1 from nettles, during the last trimester.

4. Before I got pregnant I was already supplementing with the MK-7 form of Vitamin K-2. I continued with that.

5. When Levi was born, I waited until the cord completely stopped pulsing before allowing it to be cut. There is little evidence that this affects Vitamin K status, but studies show that babies who have the benefit of delayed cord clamping have 32% more blood by volume. Cord blood contains certain clotting factors that work with Vitamin K, so more blood seemed like a good thing to me. (source)

6. Right after birth I breastfed on demand while consuming a little raw placenta in a smoothie with strawberries, raw milk and maple syrup. It’s not nearly as bad as it sounds, promise. After that I opted to encapsulate the rest of my placenta.

7. For many reasons, I opted not to circumcise either of my sons. Circumcision is often performed while clotting factors are still becoming fully established, and I believe it may place a child at increased risk for VKDB. Boys typically have fewer clotting factors in their blood at birth than girls. (source)

Would I have considered another path if my child had been premature, birth had been traumatic, or circumstances had been different in some way? Yes. I don’t know what decision I would have made, but I I would have definitely considered it. Each parent needs to inform themselves and make a decision based on their circumstances.

A note on supplementing with K-2

71pud6E0ZqL._SL1500_I began supplementing with Vitamin K-2 about two years ago for the same reasons listed in this article. Dr. Su Fairchild, and integrative medicine practitioner, has some suggested recommendations regarding dosages here.

This is the brand I use.

My Experience
When my son was finally born, he clotted so well my midwife struggled to obtain a sufficient sample for his routine blood testing. It’s not hard evidence, of course, but I do think it’s interesting that she mentioned again and again how quickly and how well he was clotting.
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Looking For More Info On Birth Choices?

Happy Healthy Child: A Holistic Approach is a DVD childbirth education course that shares insights from over 30 world-renowned OB/GYNs, midwives, pediatricians, scientists, psychologists, childbirth educators, sleep experts and lactation specialists that can help improve the birth experience and overall outcome mama’s and their babies.

If you read through this site much you’l find many of the same names mentioned – these are the people I turned to when I was researching things like routine ultrasounds, co-sleeping, natural birth and more. People like:

  • Dr. Bob Sears, who received his pediatric training at Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital in Boston and The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto — the largest children’s hospital in the world. Dr. Sears is the author of over 30 books on childcare and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Royal College of Pediatricians.
  • Ina May Gaskin, who has been called “the mother of authentic midwifery
  • Dr. James McKenna, head of the University of Notre Dame’s Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep LaboratoryThis post and this post are based on his work.
  • and Dr. Sarah Buckley, who was the first to make me dig deeper into routine ultrasounds

Topics covered include:

  • Optimal nutrition for you and your developing fetus (I did not agree with all the recommendations in this section. Beautiful Babies is a better resource for dietary recommendations in my opinion.)
  • The best ways to prepare for your labor and birth
  •  Building your birth team
  •  Overcoming the intensity of labor
  •  Common interventions and how to avoid the unnecessary ones
  •  Taking care of your new baby (bonding, breastfeeding, infant sleep, etc.)

(Read my full review here)

What did you do with your little ones?

Photo Credit: Joshua Rappeneker

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112 Responses to Should My Newborn Get A Vitamin K Shot?

  1. darlene says:

    I wish we had the option here in NY but it’s mandated in a hospital setting and you cannot refuse it for your child. :(

    • Lori says:

      We opted not to get the vitamin k shot for our son, born in 2011. I kept my diet healthy after having him, continued prenatal vitamins and ate vitamin k rich foods. He’s been fine and we’ve never had an issue. I always opt for a more natural approach before looking to “modern medicine.” Great post, though I won’t have anymore children I still love reading things like this!

    • Jennifer says:

      They’re full of crap. They may be telling you that as a scare tactic, but it is not required. Furthermore, the only states which require vaccinations to enter the public school system are Mississippi and West Virginia. Stand your ground!

      • Heather S says:

        Actually, Darlene is right. In NY, your newborn gets the shot. They don’t even tell you about it, they just do it. If you try to refuse it, not only do they give it anyway, but they are supposed to call CPS.

        • Raven A says:

          In NY the shot really is mandated. The only possible way around it is if you homebirth and can manage to find a midwife that’s willing to let you skip it.

          • Angie says:

            Its mandated here as well (Canada). The only way I was able to opt out was through our home birth, our midwife let me know there was a loophole to holding certain rights in my home, that I guess arent available to those who have a hospital birth..

  2. Kim says:

    Thank you for this summary! I have read so many articles on the subject that I was not sure what to do! I think I will go with taking the vitamin k myself (I do try to eat a vitamin k rich diet-grass fed meats, eggs, butter and milk + greens) and possibly giving my newborn the oral dose since I will be nursing (and plan on delayed cord clamping and nursing immediately). How long do we do the oral dose for infants?

    Thanks again!

    • Heather says:

      Great question, Kim. In the Netherlands they give 1mg at birth, then 25 mcg daily starting at week one and continuing through week 13. i meant to include that in my post – will go update now!

  3. Rebekah says:

    Thanks for all the great info! I think I’m going with oral supplementation this time around. To be honest, we just don’t have the money for me to eat a high K2 diet (we never eat shellfish and I cannot afford CLO).

  4. Brittany says:

    I am curious what you did for GBS. I too tested positive and my midwife recommended Hibiclens and I unfortunately did not find out until 39 weeks so I was afraid to try other alternatives. We are now battling candida, which I read could happen after doing Hibiclens. Sadly, this was after doing the GAPS diet for 2 years to prevent bad flora in baby.

    • Heather says:

      Hmmm, it sounds like I need to write a post! I’ve had three births – one where I tested GBS+ and did the wash, one where I tested GBS+ and did not, and one where I did some things differently and did not test GBS+. Obviously, I learned a lot along the way. Will put it on my list of topics to cover :)

      • Kim says:

        I would love to see that post too. :) GBS+ for 2 of 4 births so far and will be tested soon for this pregnancy. I have done the IV antibiotics at home and at hospital, but would rather not this time if I am positive. I have been looking at probiotics vaginally (I use Provacare for bacterial and yeast infections) and possibly garlic as well as some others .

      • Salina says:

        I would also love to see a post on how you naturally treated GBS+. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough information and followed my doctor’s recommendation to take antibiotics for GBS (even though I later learned it was absolutely unwarranted because I had previa and had to have a c-section). I later found out, after being told to continue it after delivery, that the antibiotic I was given wasn’t safe while nursing. My son developed severe colic after he was about a week old, which I strongly feel was due to the antibiotic I was given. To say this was a difficult period in our home is an understatement. I am currently 19weeks pregnant and would like to avoid a GBS+ diagnosis if at all possible so I can avoid any antibiotic use this delivery.

      • Wendy says:

        Many women I work with start taking 2 tsp of raw apple cider vinegar (with the Mother) daily in the last trimester. So far none of them have tested positive when they were tested for GBS. Two tsp is not a lot to drink in a glass of water; some have only done it for the last 8 weeks.

    • stacy says:

      Try taking garlic because it is natures antibiotic. Look into Shaklee Garlic because they are the 100% natural and safe.

    • Michelle says:

      Yes I would love a post on this too, baby no 4 due September and I am refusing the antibiotics so any other info would be great!

  5. Soledad says:

    Hi Heather! Thank you so much for always posting what you’ve learned and helping us so much! I do not have children yet, but thinking about starting a family this year, and I’m terrified. I still have a lot of research to do on what will be right for our family, since it’s hard to find what is right when going the “natural” way.
    My question is, what did you do to treat the GBS+? I am curious, since this is one of my fears… Is testing for GBS routine practice, even when avoiding conventional doctors visits? And what do I do if I am +??
    Thank you so much for all your help!!!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Soledad, yes it is routine to test for GBS. This is something I have some experience with since I tested GBS+ for two of my three pregnancies. There’s too much to cover in a comment, so I’ll put it on my list of posts to write. Thanks for your question!

      • Ashley says:

        Hi, dumb question I am sure but, what is GBS? and what does it mean if you test +? Thanks

        • Heather says:

          It means group B strep, and it’s a type of flora found in the birth canal of some women. It’s actually very common around the world, but in certain circumstances it can cause serious illness in infants. I’ll share more in my upcoming post :)

          • Ashley says:

            Oh ok. Thanks. I don’t think I was checked for that when I was pregnant with my daughter.. Should you be checked for it if you are pregnant?

  6. LK says:

    I love your beauty and cleaning recipes and so I subscribe to your blog. But notwithstanding your disclaimer, your articles about vaccinations and vitamin K and the like are wholly irresponsible. You are not a doctor and have no business espousing your beliefs to others. No business at all. Because every “article” of yours on these issues are skewed to your point of view. There are vulnerable pregnant woman out there who will believe in your scare tactics over the advice of their doctors. Example: in the benefits to the vitamin k section, you have included one sentence. ONE, that’s it. No discussion about how the Vitamin K shot will likely help avoid debilitating problems Yet, in the risk section, the first bullet point (of many) is death?!? Jeez – what is the risk of death here versus the effects of not taking the shot. We do not live in the olden times anymore – thank goodness because many babies’ lives are saved as the result of vaccinations and modern medicine. I think that blogs like yours are doing more harm to our society than these Vitamin K shots and vaccinations you speak against.

    And note that I am 100% an organic mama – I make my own homemade, from scratch snacks, make my own beauty and cleaning products, and feed my family real, unprocessed foods. I just don’t buy into your fearmongering. Honestly, blogs like yours are the Fox News of the medical community. It’s just so upsetting to me because I live in a state in which whooping cough is now an epidemic thanks to fear-based “articles” that you, again, have no business writing.

    • Heather says:

      Hi LK, you’re right that these are not the “olden days.” As moms, we can access studies that used to only be available to doctors. We can educate ourselves about the likelihood that those studies have false positives and false negatives – statistically, more than half of the positive results are actually wrong. (http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21588057-scientists-think-science-self-correcting-alarming-degree-it-not-trouble)

      I’ve learned a lot from reading blogs that take many sides of an issue – yes, I actually do read blogs written from other perspectives! When I wrote this post, I tried to do so in a way that would allow others to “check my work.” I shared the studies I read and how I interpreted them personally. They are there for anyone who wants to look deeper. I personally don’t feel that this post has “do this” or “don’t do this” message. You are free to disagree, of course. That’s what this larger conversation is all about.

      • Nikki says:

        And Heather, this is why I keep coming back to your site as one of my top favorites. Not only are you thorough, fair and well-researched/well-documented, you’re gracious and decent to others even when those others aren’t decent to you. THANK YOU for all the work you go to.

      • Amanda says:

        Some of the studies/sources used in this article are really outdated (1996-97, 1987, 1991, 1992). Here’s a few links with more up-to-date research. The first link just being an article written mostly about one (of many, sadly) mother/child’s experience:

        http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/health-med-fit/health/mothers-of-injured-babies-join-cdc-s-new-education-effort/article_36882e4d-4f37-5ed1-ae16-ef2959f099ac.html

        Here is a more up-to-date study from the same source (ncbi) the author used (1996) in regard to the question about vit k crossing the placenta:
        “VKD has been attributed to insufficient intestinal colonisation by bacteria, whereas latter case arises from poor placental transport of the vitamin and its low concentration in breast milk. The main exogenous source of vitamin K in neonates, which is almost exclusively milk, cannot adequately compensate for deficient endogenous production, since human breast milk contains between 1 and 4 μg/L of vitamin K1 (and a much lower concentration of vitamin K2).” “Coagulation factors do not cross the placental barrier but are synthesized independently by the conceptus.”

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3021393/#!po=63.3333

        This article http://fn.bmj.com/content/89/6/F546.long was sited by the author in the section (with the question re: maternal supplementation of vit k to increase levels in bm), suggesting that the study showed a correlation in VKD & poor diet &/or genetic components. However the results of the study do not indicate or suggest that, it stated there was an “unexpectedly high increase in VKD bleeding in infants who did not receive the prophylaxis.” & gave further evidence supporting the need of vit k prophylaxis.

        Those are a few of the red flags, or issues, I found while reading. I think the info given is inaccurate… & considering the importance of VK & the increased occurrence of VKD, I wouldn’t recommend using this article in helping to make an informed decision.

        Other links (unlike above links, these are based more on medical opinions/personal experiences/other research/etc.):

        http://www.healio.com/pediatrics/journals/pedann/%7Bb5ee598c-213c-4284-86b7-c7055e31f71a%7D/playing-newborn-intracranial-roulette-parental-refusal-of-vitamin-k-injection

        http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/separating-fact-from-fiction-in-the-not-so-normal-newborn-nursery-vitamin-k-shots/

        • Heather says:

          The first article you mention is very sad, but in your comment you stated it was an article with more “up to date research.” However statements within it such as “Babies are born with very small amounts of vitamin K because it does not cross the placenta well, no matter how much the mother ingests. The vitamin is also made by bacteria in our intestines, which can take months to develop. Breast milk — even when mothers supplement their diets with vitamin K — also does not provide enough.” provides no references or sources. I am open to looking at more current research if it is available, but until then I choose to based my choices on studies I am able to read and analyze rather than unfounded statements.

          Regarding the second study you cited, I do not disagree that most breast milk is low in Vitamin K. The purpose of this post was to explore why that is, and if it is true for every woman. Based on the research I presented, I have personally concluded that low maternal levels are likely to be the result of widespread maternal subclinical deficiency. The cultures that Dr. Price studied consumed at least ten times the fat soluble vitamins that we do. Coagulation factors, although lower than normal, are found in cord blood. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9085204 I chose to delay cord cutting for many reason, but one was to allow as many coagulation factors as possible to transfer, even if they are found in lower concentrations.

          This post intended to detail the information I found, with links so that others can vet the studies for themselves as you are doing. I only shared what I chose and why, while also reiterating that this is a choice every parent needs to make for themselves.

          The study I cited regarding maternal supplementation and Vitamin K absolutely does state that the researchers suspect poor diet and/or genetic components. This is the portion of the article I drew that conclusion from “Possible explanations for different susceptibilities to this condition in different populations include genetic variation affecting vitamin K absorption,1 variation in the incidence of chronic liver disease and malabsorptive conditions,7 and differences in breast feeding rates10,20 and in dietary intake of vitamin K in its various forms” http://fn.bmj.com/content/89/6/F546.long

    • Alison says:

      Exactly what is “irresponsible” about citing and discussing published medical studies regarding Vitamin K (or any other topic)? Telling the truth about difficult subjects is NOT irresponsible – quite the reverse. You are free to disagree with her opinion, but please do so by respectfully stating FACTS (and your own opinion) and without resorting to such inflammatory terms such as “fear mongering” and “irresponsible.”
      Alison

      PS – check your facts about that so-called “epidemic” and you will see that the CDC numbers go up and down and HAVE ALWAYS gone up and down even during times of almost universal vaccinations. There can be many other explanations for spikes in infectious diseases that have nothing to do with vaccination refusals – vaccination-resistant strains, for instance.

      PPS – After Heather has specifically and repeatedly denied any medical training or expertise, I find it interesting that YOU call her part of the “medical community.” And calling her the “Fox News” of said medical community is a compliment in my book. Way to go, Heather!

    • Becky says:

      Wow. You make it very clear that you are all ‘homemade’ but then you blame other parents for not vaccinating their kids as if vaccines were all completely and utterly safe and warm and fuzzy.

      That’s pretty interesting. it’s also the exact party line of all the big pharma drug pushers and the evidence for this ‘epidemic’ is all reported in the media that in the US is owned by 6, count ‘em, 6 corporations. Oh, but you just quote it as gospel and ‘truth’.

      So, where are the real numbers? Have you researched this ‘evidence’ to know the exact numbers of illnesses, deaths, etc? Or are you just parroting the bought and paid for media like everyone else does?

      How many kids do you actually know who are sick with whooping cough? Any at all? I doubt it. This is media hype and you just bought it and passed it on as if it was real – when you do not even know at all. You just bought their story. Baloney, that’s what I say.

      Heather is so fair and unbiased in her assessment because she is doing the real work of doing her best for her family. You are doing the job of repeating the noise you hear and calling it real rather than actually doing any work at all. Too easy for you to criticize and too easy for me to see you don’t bother to dig deeper and get the real answers.

    • Jennifer says:

      This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve read on a mommy blog. I’ll just leave it at that.

    • Miranda says:

      I find it disturbing that you believe that any person could have “no business espousing [his or her] beliefs to others.” First amendment? Freedom of speech? Freedom of information? If you always silence those who disagree with you, how will you ever find truth? And what if somebody disagrees with you? Should they seek to silence you?
      It is your right to disagree with Heather. And it is your responsibility to seek and find the best path for yourself and your family. It is also Heather’s responsibility to seek and find the best path for herself and her family, and that may not always be the same path that you choose. Heather spreads the information she finds, increasing education and information, and I am now free to choose whether to follow her path or another. If she were silenced, it would be harder for me to make an informed decision. In order to make a truly informed decision, one must hear both sides of the story, all the options available and their pros and cons. If I only hear the “Vaccines are wonderful!” side, how can I make the correct choice for my family? I know you are certain that vaccines are the choice for everyone, but how would you feel if your child were injured by them?
      I do wish you success as you seek to find the correct path for your family. But please don’t try to silence those who disagree with you.

  7. Lindsey says:

    I had a very long labor and delivery with my daughter and although I signed everything to not do the K shot, when we discovered bleeding issues 30 minutes after birth the hospital thought it best (and i agreed) that we then do the K shot after all. Her bleeding issues turned out to not be a vitamin K thing (she didnt make platelets for the first several months of her life and it remains undiagnosed) but I am happy we were given the opportunity to do the shot just in case it was a related issue. After reading your post though it did bring to my attention to mention that good clotting isn’t always a good thing. They couldnt get her blood tested from a heel prick and that was due to almost no platelets in her blood so her clotting was overactive in her system in its attempt to save her life. So it isn’t always good that they can’t get a test…(just so others are aware of that). Due to the unknown platelet issue she also had a huge cerebral hemorrhage (in utero) but here we are 4 1/2 years later and she (luckily and uncommonly) has no obvious indications that any of that ever happened to her :)

    • Heather says:

      Thanks for your comment, Lindsey. I think it’s great to have a plan but also to be flexible if circumstances change. I’m so glad your daughter is well, and thank you for sharing with us the possibility that clotting is not always indicative of a good thing. In my case, I think it had to do with higher than average (for our generation) Vitamin K stores, but this is definitely something I will keep in mind going forward as I talk with other mamas.

      • Lindsey says:

        Isn’t it amazing how we can be so prepared yet things happen so far from our plan. I don’t know how you ladies write these kinds of blogs and deal with comments like the ones from fox news lady above. Her reply sounds so hateful. Yuck. I’d be pulling my hair out having to read and respond to those! Freedom of speech! Keep up the good work ;)

  8. Jennifer says:

    My daughter is currently 2 weeks old. I didn’t eat a vitamin-K rich diet during pregnancy :/ Is it too late for me to start supplementing myself with it to do any good at this point? Thanks!

  9. Katie says:

    Thanks for this article. It’s crazy that there seems to be so much conflicting information… or maybe just incomplete information.
    Anyway, I wanted to give a heads up that one of your links is broken. It’s the “source” link for the fact that “Activator X” has been discovered to be Vitamin K2 .
    And also, I think you must have a spelling error in the “Risk Factors” section under the Maternal Use of Antibiotics sub point: “This is mot likely to occur in people who already have low levels of vitamin K or are at risk for deficiency (such as those who are malnourished, elderly, or taking warfarin).” My guess is that it should say, “This is most likely…”
    Thanks again for this great article! Love your stuff!

    • Heather says:

      Thank you so much, Katie! I once ran into a woman in a hotel corridor who had the back of her dress tucked into her hose. I grabbed her and discreetly let her know as quickly as I could, and I always feel the same has been done for me when someone points out a typo :)

  10. Tanya says:

    I find some of this to be very interesting. I am a NICU nurse by specialization, and have given hundreds if not thousands of vit k shots to newborns. I can say I have never ever seen a reaction in all my years of working as a nurse. So I would guess that the risks of the vit K shot is extremely low.

    I do find the studies on vit k in breast milk to be very interesting and informative.

    • Heather says:

      Thanks for chiming in, Tanya! It is my understanding that acute reactions are rare, but I personally have some reservations about how the injection interacts with the immature immune system of a newborn.

  11. Randi says:

    In Texas if you have your baby at a hospital and you refuse the eye ointment or the Vit K shot they can and will call CPS. Unless you have a super relaxed RN. Happened to my good friend. CPS sent in a social worker who sat there waiting to take their baby until they finally succumbed. It was awful. They were all crying, even the social worker because they knew it was wrong. You can refuse the Hep B vaccine though.

    • Philippa Gaywood says:

      would you still have to if you did a home-birth? Im new to the US… good to know!!

    • Rebekah says:

      Randi,

      Thanks for reminding me why I don’t want to have babies in Texas! How awful for your friend; I’m sorry she had that experience. I’m curious though – because you are not the first commenter with a story about parents not having an option to refuse something for their babies – do all states not have a “Patient Bill of Rights?” This is really alarming to me!

      • Heather says:

        I birthed two of my babies in Texas at home. I was never pressured to have any procedures or interventions I didn’t want. It certainly happens as Randi’s post illustrates, but Texas is full of wonderful, respectful doctors and midwives.

    • Jennifer says:

      Your friend was just unlucky, honestly. This is absolutely untrue about Texas. Some hospitals/doctors may be VERY pro-vax and try to scare parents into thinking it’s the law but it is not. Sorry she had to go through that.

    • Laci says:

      This is not the case for all of Texas, I can assure you based on my current experience. It is the law that a record must be filed with CPS for refusal of the eye ointment, but not the vit K. The record is a formality that must be followed and might result in a visit but never to your baby being taken away unless it was a red flag in addition to other concerns about the parents. I have researched and questioned this ad nauseum as I am 40 weeks pregnant and delivering in Houston, TX.

  12. Kate says:

    In some states it required and can’t be skipped. I tried with my son 9 months ago in NY. But dept of health require vit k and all other shots that your advocating to avoid. Also what course did you take with your first pregnancy/labor being GBS+. I was and don’t want to do antibotics for my second
    Thanks

  13. Amanda J says:

    My friend just had a baby today and now I want to bring her liver ‘n’ eggs.

  14. Philippa Gaywood says:

    I opted out of anything recommended by the medical professionals. we have a natural home-birth with both my angels and did lotus births.if you eat lots of healthy fats and really listen to our bodies, they know whats going on and what to do… i have 2 super healthy children who never (touch wood) get sick. Did God get it wrong???.

    Thank you for you wonderful site. my new favourite…

  15. Leah Johnston says:

    I was also GBS+ and unfortunately unable to decline the antibiotics according to my midwife :( Not sure if she was being totally honest presenting my rights. Were you able to because of a home birth? I used a lot of oral Abx over the course of about 10 years for acne! So stupid, I wish I’d known better. I wanted to give my son a better start establishing gut bacteria- part of my reason for not wanting Abx. My midwife was great in many ways but another disappointment was when she told me having IV abx would not affect my baby. I knew this logic seemed flawed but I didn’t speak up. I had a mostly natural birth in a hospital. It was actually better financially for us to have a birth within the health care system I work for and my midwife strongly discouraged me from finding a midwife in the “yellow pages or internet” because they may not be as educated and gave me all the risks with that. I dream of my next child being an uncomplicated home birth but after my experience with my first, it’s sometimes hard to believe it’s possible! Anyway, really enjoy your posts!

  16. Rae says:

    I have used alfalfa and nettles as a supplement during pregnancy. It was recommended by my midwife to help prevent hemorrhage after birth and clotting with the babies. After your milk comes in you start taking them again. It helps with milk supply.

  17. Rebekah says:

    We refused the Vit. K, eye ointment, Hep. B, and circumcision with no issues. Our children were born at Special Beginnings Birth and Women’s Center in Arnold, MD, with amazing midwives in attendance. I’m so grateful to them for supporting our birth decisions, and for your blog which helps educate us all. You are very respectful of a parent’s right to choose and encouraging of education – THANK YOU!!!

  18. Leah Johnston says:

    Also, a link to a good talk I recently listened to:
    http://www.mprnews.org/story/npr/302899093?from=health

  19. Janelle says:

    Interesting… I had a traumatic birth with my first child, 4 hours of labor he was almost out, when his heart rate wasn’t recovering, so I ended up with an emergency c-section (not the natural birth I signed up for) and being put under anesthesia. They had to test his blood every hour for the first two days, and determined his vitamin K levels were sufficient. I was at a hospital (health campus) that strongly uses alternative medicine as part of the healing process, so maybe that was part of the reason.

  20. Monica says:

    My baby is now 5 weeks old, but I was searching your blog for info on this before she was born! We did not do the shot, but I’m considering supplementing. I’m sure you came across this is your research, but what are your thoughts on this quote from evidence based birth (the article about vitamin k), saying that supplementation doesn’t increase the amount of vitamin k in milk?

    “There is no good evidence that giving the mother extra Vitamin K during pregnancy can prevent VKDB in infants. In the largest known study looking at diets and Vitamin K deficiency, researchers followed 683 mothers before pregnancy and after giving birth. Blood was drawn from mothers during labor and from the umbilical cord after birth. Mothers were asked about food intake during pregnancy and also interviewed by a dietitian during the postpartum period. Researchers found no relationship between the Vitamin K status of mothers and that of their infants (Chuansumrit, Plueksacheeva et al. 2010).

    Some people have suggested that an alternative strategy for boosting the Vitamin K intake of breast fed babies is for the mother to take a daily supplement herself after birth. However, there is very little evidence supporting this strategy. In one small study with only 6 mothers, a 2.5 mg oral dose twice a day (one hundred times the amount that would otherwise need to be given to the baby each day) was enough to raise the vitamin content of the milk to acceptable levels (Bolisetty, Gupta et al. 1998). In a large Japanese study with more than 3,000 mother-infant pairs, researchers tested a maternal dose of 15 mg of Vitamin K2 by mouth once a day. They found that this dose resulted in low infant Vitamin K levels in only 0.11% of the treatment group. (Nishiguchi, Saga et al. 1996). But so far, researchers have not tested the effects of maternal Vitamin intake on actual Vitamin K deficiency bleeding in infants.”

    Sorry, I just copied the big portion so it would make sense. Thank you for this article. I have been waiting for another one of your research posts :)

    • Heather says:

      Hi Monica, I’m glad you mentioned that study that found no relationship. One thing worth considering is that they were measuring K-1 (phylloquinone) levels rather than K-2 (menaquinone) levels. According to another study I mentioned, K-2 crosses the placenta better than K-1, and it seems to be the form priced by the cultures Dr. Price studied. The study that looked at K-2 levels did seem to show a correlation.

      Based on how I read that particular study, it seems that women’s Vitamin K levels seemed to be low if their dietary intake was low. However, the babies with the lowest levels were those that were considered high risk. One of the factors used to select the high risk group was birth weight. It is known that preemies are more susceptible to VKDB, perhaps because their liver is not able assist in the coagulation process as efficiently. My thought is that perhaps the smaller babies were not quite full term and that somehow affected the results, but I am not certain on that.

      Regarding the second study with 3,000 mother/infant pairs, that’s actually the first one I mention in the section on studies regarding Vitamin K and breastfeeding. In that study, the researchers concluded that maternal supplementation “showed an effective result,” and the “transmission of vitamin K through breast milk would be a suitable method of vitamin K prophylaxis.” I guess it depends on how you look at the data.

  21. Elizabeth Kegans says:

    It is a Jewish tradition to circumcise boys on the 8th day. It just so happens that it has since been proven that the Vitamin K levels in newborns are low and build up until the 8th day, then the levels decrease after that. That is another reason why hospitals give the Vitamin K shot in the hospital, because that is when they do the circumcisions (typically the 1st or 2nd day), when it would be better to wait until the 8th day. We have had 2 circumcisions done at our house on the 8th day by a doctor, but I have known of friends who have taken their baby boy back to the hospital on the 8th day to have it done then. I am surprised that in your research you didn’t find anything about this. BTW, the wording on your first picture has a typo. Newborn was mistyped as Newbon.

    • Jill says:

      That is also my understanding–that vitamin K levels increase until day 8, which is when the Jewish tradition has boys circumcised. Coincidence? Or is God just smart? ;-). I had never heard of levels dropping after day 8 though…

      In everything health, food, and agriculture related, I try to always consider the natural order of things and remember that all of creation is so absolutely, amazingly designed to work perfectly, and has done so without requiring assistance for many millennia. More often than not, I believe we humans with our limited understanding combined with financial greed (corporations and the governmental powers bought and controlled by them) mostly need to get out of the way and let nature do what it has successfully and beautifully done all along.

    • Amanda says:

      God is so smart, he created the foreskin for males to keep, so their genitals could stay clean and healthy and give the man and his partners a satisfying sexual experience later in life. How wonderful!

      • Elizabeth says:

        Amanda, I’m not sure where you are getting your information, but my husband was circumcised as a baby, never had an infection, and has been satisfying me for 23 years now :) Having a circ doesn’t stop that. We are going on 10 kids now!

      • Juliamomof4 says:

        God gave males the foreskin as a provision for a covenant with Him, not to keep. It’s clearly written in the Bible, both testaments, old and in the new.

        • Brooke says:

          No, the foreskin is there because males are too stupid to understand how to clean their bodies properly. For those of us who aren’t Jewish, we are told circ has to happen for hygenic reasons.

  22. Blessed mom says:

    This is a great post! I just had my fourth boy and before I delivered him, I researched the vitamin k shot. There is quite a bit of information on the link between the k shot and developing lukemia later on in life. The percentage isn’t very high but it is one of those risks I am not sure it is worth. I opted for oral vitamin k and had it compounded for me from a pharmacy. God obviously has a reason for the low k levels that I believe we need to be careful not to think we know so much more than God does. Since I am unable to breast feed and boost the k that way it was nice to have a natural low dose vitamin k. The amount of vitamin k in the shot is way beyond necessary. I talk to so many people who don’t even know that a vitamin k shot is given at birth – and to be honest- I didn’t either until my 3rd. The hospital pediatrician was impressed that I brought my own k. She said it wasn’t proven to work but she seemed pleased that I had done my research. I called the hospital first and made sure that I would not be given a hard time for not vaccinating – they were great. (I was very blessed because there are a lot of places where this doesn’t happen)
    You answered LK very graciously. Vaccines can be such a source of anger and vitriol. As a mom of 4 boys (2 were vaccinated, 1 I stopped at 4 months and my last has never had any:). It is a difficult process to overcome what we have been told for years about vaccines. I am thankful that The Lord directed me in my research and gave me a husband willing to listen.

    • Heather says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, and congratulations on the arrival of your son. As a point of clarification, subsequent studies on leukemia and Vitamin K have not established a connection. So glad you chimed in!

  23. Alyssa says:

    Heather, I just want to thank you for the constant education. I have used the information I have gained from your site as well as many others as a launching pad to do my own homework. Upon working through my own health issues I have realized that modern medicine has it’s place and it is no longer front and center in my families world. Your posts have helped me to get through some really difficult high-stress periods in my life and I’m truly grateful to you. And to the the strongly-opinionated person above, life is a never ending learning process. It’s taken me almost 40 years to realize that we are not drones. I now question everything. We are are own best health advocates and our children rely on us to keep them healthy and safe. I don’t know about anyone else here but I have never been given a pamphlet on the risks and side effects of the vitamin K injection. This information does not seem readily available and I am thankful to have the information that Heather has found. If there is a healthy/holistic alternative to constant antibiotic use or harmful chemicals in our vaccinations would you not want to explore this for your family? And can you give me a guarantee that vaccinations are safe for babies and children with leaky gut, which my son was born with? Everyone makes mistakes, including scientists and our government. Perfect example is the Food Guide Pyramid. :) All “in my opinion”. Love you Heather!!!!

  24. Virginia says:

    We had our son in a freestanding birth center, so there was an atmosphere conducive to parental choice regarding MANY labor/delivery/post-birth procedures. We declined the Vitamin K shot, but stated on the waiver that if there was any trauma during delivery, or any conditions that increased his risk of bleeding, we would allow injection. Thankfully, labor and delivery was “textbook” and there were no complications, therefore the shot was unnecessary. I encapsulated my placenta, and also took a quality Vitamin K-2 supplement for a couple of months post-partum. We also chose to delay cord-clamping.
    I am very happy with the decisions we made surrounding his birth, and would not change a thing.
    As mentioned above, had there been any trauma or signs of bleeding in our baby, we would have done the injection, but the way I saw it (and still do), it’s one of those things that is necessary only in certain circumstances and not every child every time, as modern hospital practice prescribes.

  25. Cait says:

    With my first, we did the oral supplementation although my midwife’s recommended dose was once a week for six weeks, as I remember…I wonder why the difference! The second time we didn’t do anything, and although I was eating as close to a traditional diet as I could, I didn’t have a whole lot of Vitamin K-rich foods. Interestingly, it was very difficult for my son to get his PKU taken as well. Now I’m taking the MK7 supplement because I’m trying to heal a cavity and can’t always get pastured butter…I will probably continue though!

  26. Cait says:

    And thank you for such a great overview and research!

  27. Cait says:

    And thank you for such a great overview and research!

  28. Jenny says:

    I wish I had been more informed. We had decided not to get the drops, vitamin K, etc. but shortly after birth our midwife (who was awesome and we love!) suggested it due to some bruising he had on his head. I think she said ‘it’s just a vitamin’ If I had known more (especially about the make up of the shot, preservatives, etc.) I probably would have said no at that point but alas I said ok. I have always eaten pretty healthy (well, once I grew up and got off SAD) but am now learning more about Dr. Price so maybe I will be more prepared for our next baby. Thanks for all you do-love your site!

  29. Colette says:

    Unfortunately I had a c section and I took a reaction and shook uncontrolled after it. My hubby was the first to feed her formula. I had supply and latch issue and no support so she had been having goat formula. They bullied us into vit k shot I was too traumatized to not agree it was really not nice. I had my baby lifted outta me n then hubby had to hold and feed her a bottle in the corner. Im just so glad we ok. Despite my chronic fatigue syndrome

  30. Suzanne says:

    So I was tested positive for the group b strep as well but it was required by law that I have antibiotics otherwise I would have to be monitored at a hospital and I did not want that. Overall, I was lucky that that was the only thing I had to worry about but I’m wondering how you avoided that all together and what you did instead?

  31. Emma says:

    My first birth was in the hospital and I asked that they give the baby oral vitamin k. They sent me home with a prescription to have filled for more, but I never filled it. My second was a homebirth and I ordered some oral vit K drops. The midwife gave the baby one dose. I was supposed to continue on a schedule, but never did. My third was also a homebirth, but this time the midwife gave me many articles to read. Some suggested there may perhaps be a reason babies need low vit k. I decided just to skip it. I also decided to skip the newborn blood tests, partly because of finding out the government is keeping babies’ DNA without notifying parents. You can opt for a private test, but I decided to skip it.

    My first pregnancy was GBS-. My second I was GBS+. I did homeopathic Streptococcus, garlic suppositories and ate raw garlic. When I was retested I was GBS-. My midwife insisted on antibiotics if my water was broken for more that 12 hours. I do regret that. My third pregnancy was also GBS+. I took the homepathic, but not the garlic and I remained GBS+. But my water never broke, so I didn’t need antibiotics.

  32. aw says:

    Yes! You absolutely should get your newborn the vitamin k shot! This article is putting innocent lives at risk. AS Mothers, it is our job to protect our babies! Do your job!

  33. […] Most women go into labor having a plan. Whether it’s a traditional birth, in your home, with a midwife, in a tub, or at a hospital – we all usually have a plan in our heads before the big day. One thing that I know I was on the fence about for some time with my little one was whether or not we should get the vitamin K shot. It’s a very touchy topic and super hard to know what is the right thing to do by my little baby.  Well if you aren’t sure what to do yet take a look at what Mommypotamus has to say and see if it helps you decide if your newborn needs to get that Vitamin K Shot. […]

  34. Diana says:

    I have 5 children, 2 of them did not get the vit k shot and 1 got the oral and 2 got the preservative free shot. I’ve been through phases of where I was militant that nothing unatural ever touch my baby, only organic everything… then they go outside and I find them eating a popcicle with the neighbor kids, or a birthday party where the cake is clearly not organic and full of white sugar Maybe I’m getting old or maybe I’m just coming to my senses… maybe there isn’t a government consipricy around every corner, or maybe I’m just getting lazy who knows. Its good to make an informed decision but at the end of the day.. its a vitamin not a vaccination and it does provide benefits

  35. April Alphin says:

    Heather,
    I am a mother and a doctor and would like to extend thanks to you for all of your research and information that you extend to the community. In no way do I find your blogs irresponsible or one sided. You provide a fair amount of information and resources for readers to make their own decisions, while at the same time providing alternative view points that may not be presented to mothers to be but are viable options all the same.
    Keep up the good work

  36. First, thanks for writing this so I don’t have to do the research myself. :)

    Second, this explains why I craved raw milk, egg yolks, and grass-fed butter pretty much constantly in the first few months postpartum. I made homemade ice cream with a small amount of maple syrup and tossed in some walnuts pretty much *every* night in those early months. I also ate lots of Romano cheese (fairly high in K2). I could not get enough at that time. I did encapsulate my placenta, but not until weeks after the birth, and it turns out that taking it way later is NOT a good idea. At all. (It screwed up my hormone balance majorly and made my anxiety terrible.)

    We did the vit K shot with our oldest, because we had no idea about it. Our later three never had it. And at least one of them clotted so well during their PKU test that the nurse had trouble getting blood and may have even had to stick them again. We didn’t circ them, either (three boys).

  37. Allison says:

    Heather,
    I appreciate your blog so much!
    I do want to point out something you may consider in regards to this article. I’ve noticed in a few pieces of your recent content that you state the infant gut is sterile or unestablished. A recent study has just shown this hypothesis to be incorrect.

    Here is a great commentary on, and links to, the study:
    http://symbionticism.blogspot.com/2013/08/got-moms-bacteria-breaking-silence-on.html

    And another article:
    http://abc13.com/health/baylor-study-bacteria-live-even-in-healthy-placentas/71775/

  38. Beth says:

    I’ve heard that vernix is high in vitamin k. Could this be another natural resource for unwashed newborns?

    • Beth says:

      Oh and my first was born in the hospital and we were bullied into giving her the vit K shot. She too was clotting so well, the nurse commented on it and that was before the shot. My second was born at home, I followed the WAP diet for nursing and pregnant women and we opted to not administer vit K.

  39. Molly says:

    I took a Bradley Method class and we opted out of the Vitamin K shot based on advice from our instructor. I was breast feeding completely. When our daughter was about 6 weeks old, we had to take her to the children’s hospital for an extremely high fever. When they drew her blood, her clotting levels were so low, the lab was mystified. After another blood draw with similar results, the hematologist was notified. No one could figure out what was happening , and then someone asked us if she had gotten the Vitamin K shot. It is very rare in our area to refuse this shot, so no one had thought of it. She got a brain scan immediately, and blood was on her brain in her vision area. Fortunately, this was all discovered before she died of internal bleeding. Now we were just hoping that she would not lose her vision. We were placed in the Pediatric ICU. Neurologists came onto the scene. She got some Vitamin K and also a blood transfusion. She also had an MRI. After a few days in the hospital, we went home, but were on consult with the neurologist for a few months to track her progress. Fortunately, the blood cleared from her brain. And thankfully, we have a beautiful bright girl who has her vision. It was such a scary time in the hospital, and I am thankful for all the interventions that made it possible for her to survive. It is ironic that when I refused the Vitamin K shot, I was trying to be so natural, but the interventions that followed were so far from natural. I chose to get the Vitamin K shot for my second child.

    • Jenny says:

      Molly,

      I am so glad your daughter’s VKDB was found fast and she is fine. For my son we were not so lucky. He had a massive bleed and now has severe brain damage from not getting the simple shot. He has severe developmental delays, cerebal palsy, seizures, etc. I wrote our story in the comments.

    • Heather says:

      Thank you for sharing your story, Molly. <3

  40. Jenny says:

    This is such an important discussion. You have done lots of research and I think the scientific community needs to research this more. I would like them to make the Vit K shot with out the toxic components. But I need to tell you my story. My son was born Sept. 2004 at home in a water tub. We did delayed cord clamping etc. He was initially a healthy baby. I thought we were doing everything right and gave him a beautiful peaceful entry into this world. But at 5 weeks of age, he ended up in the ER. He coded within minutes of getting there. He had a VKDB in his brain. My beautiful healthy baby boy had massive bleeding in his left occipital lobe. He had emergency brain surgery and a drug used for Hemophiliacs clotted his blood immediately saving his life. They kept his left bone flap from his skull in the hospital freezer for 6 weeks. He had massive staples along his skull. We later found out that he had a 1% chance to live. What we did not understand until later was that he sustained massive injury to most of his brain. My child would never be the same. Brain injury is one of the worst things that can happen. It can take away who you are. Your ability to think and do. Today at 9 years old my son is still much like an infant. He cannot sit up, walk, or talk. He is so precious and I have learned so much from him but I would not wish this on anyone. Having a child who is total care for his whole life changes everything. It is extremely difficult. I don’t want this to happen to other families. One of the mom’s in the Stl Post, she was even more healthy than I and it happened to her son. And maybe there is something to the traditional diet but until concrete proof is known you are risking the lives of your children. You can do everything you think is right and it can still happen.

    Please also know that breast fed baby boys are in the highest risk category for VKDB.
    If you do decide not to do the shot please watch your child for any signs of bruising or bleeding. My son was circumcised around day 8 to 10 and he clotted fine. So the child may not display any signs and that is scariest of all.
    And to all those who say God designed it perfectly. Look at my precious son whose brain is severely damaged. If he would have had the simple VIt. K shot, he would have been fine today. A simple vitamin! Initially everything was designed perfectly and then sin entered the world. Life here is imperfect and people get sick and hurt all the time. Life is flawed.

    I do believe that natural is best most of the time. I feed my son an all organic diet and he is healthier than other children I know who have brain injury. But please rethink this one shot. It’s so not worth it to have a child lose his brain.

    • Heather says:

      Jenny, I am so sorry to hear about what you have been through, and I wholeheartedly agree with you that we need to encourage researchers to continue to look into VKDB. Thank you for communicating your experience in a way that respects other parents need to research and choose for themselves based on their circumstances.

  41. Miranda says:

    I had not researched or heard anything about the Vit K shot or VKDB or anything. When my first daughter was born at home I refused the shot just because I was sure it must be full of crap I didn’t want injected into my daughter and surely it’s not that big a deal, just like the newborn Hep B vaccine. I didn’t eat any particularly rich diet, just a moderately clean one based on vegetables and fruits and dairy with a little meat (no reason other than that was what I was craving). I didn’t take any Vit K supplements unless it was included in my prenatal multi. When the midwife took her blood for the PKU test, she had to re-stick her heel several times to get enough blood. Unless there was THAT much vitamin K in the full-fat dairy I craved (it was organic but probably not grass-fed), she couldn’t have had much vitamin K in her blood. Either the midwife’s heel-sticker was just too skinny or she was sticking my baby in the wrong place, or by some amazing fluke my daughter had plenty of vitamin K.

  42. […] need quite a lot of to make babies.  The egg yolks and some of the foods I craved are actually high in vitamin K2, which is really needed while breastfeeding. […]

  43. Kelsey says:

    Question about the vitamin K supplement you take… I see it’s from soy. Are you okay with it because it is fermented? I try to avoid soy completely because of my thyroid.

  44. Renee K says:

    Hi Heather,
    I love this post and appreciate you putting all this information in one place. One thing that seems unresolved for me at the moment though is the different uses for K1 and K2.

    Your post discusses that maternal supplementation of K2 will cross the placenta to baby, but it is actully K1 that helps with blood clotting (http://chriskresser.com/vitamin-k2-the-missing-nutrient) and it is K1 that is supplemented to babies after birth. You actually even mix them up in your final paragraph (“A note on supplementing with K-1 I began supplementing with Vitamin K-2 about two years ago… “) and I’m wondering if we need to be more careful about telling them apart?

    Is it possible that maternal supplementation and dietary intake of K2 will still do nothing to help baby’s K1 levels at birth? I am currently eating high K2 foods and supplementing with K1 such as nettle tea and alfalfa capsules but if the K1 doesn’t go to baby and if the K2 doesn’t help with clotting then is it all pointless to help prevent VKDB?

    Thanks!
    Renee

  45. Erin says:

    Hi Heather,

    Thanks so much for the informative post! As a pregnant mother with another child who had lip and posterior tongue ties, I am wondering about your perspective on what the earliest you feel it would be considered “safe” to correct ties that might occur in a baby not given the vitamin K shot (only maternal supplementation). We know that we are having a girl, so we don’t have to worry about the circumcision issue, but I am wondering about the ties since there is a good possibility she will have them (they run in the family)! Thanks again!

  46. Christie says:

    I’m wondering how many pills/day you take during pregnancy?
    Thank you,
    Christie

  47. Sarah says:

    Hello! I found your post really helpful and I always love how well you write!

    Tell me about this placenta smoothie that you made. Did you have a recipe? How exactly did you go about putting part of it in your smoothie? I would love to get my placenta encapsulated but not sure if that’s available where I live. I’ve heard of people drinking it in smoothies before but just haven’t looked into what exactly they do. :-)

    Thanks!

    • Heather says:

      My mom was visiting, so she actually made it for me. She just threw some strawberries, raw milk, and maple syrup in a blender with a 1 inch piece of placenta and gave it to me :)

  48. Natalie says:

    I’m interested in following the Vitamin K protocol of many of the European countries and giving our newborn 1-2 mg of the oral Vitamin K at birth and then from 1 week-13 weeks giving 25 micrograms daily. The only problem is how to administer that small of a dose. Do you have any ideas?

  49. Tasha says:

    Hi Heather, I noticed on the Jarrow Formulas MK-7 ingredient list, that it contains caramel (as a light barrier). Is this the same as caramel coloring? I am pregnant and considering taking this supplement. Please let me know what you think. Thanks!

  50. Kinzi Herron says:

    Did you opt out of the newborn eye ointment at birth? I haven’t been in TN for long, but I’ve heard that the midwife is required by law to administer it. Do you know if this is true? I was able to opt out in CA.

  51. […] or no intervention at each of my three births. Please keep in mind that – as I wrote in my post on the Vitamin K shot – “Best Boo-Boo Kisser South Of Puckett’s Gas Station” is about as official […]

  52. Cassie says:

    There is another hypothesis regarding an infant’s naturally low levels of Vitamin K:

    http://nursingrubysue.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/breastmilk-stem-cells-vitamin-k-shot/

    http://birthofanewearth.blogspot.com/2014/08/synthetic-vitamin-k-shots-for-newborns.html

    ” cord blood contains stem cells, which protect a baby against bleeding and perform all sorts of needed repairs inside an infant’s body. Here’s the kicker, in order for a baby to get this protective boost of stem cells, cord-cutting needs to be delayed and the blood needs to remain thin so stem cells can easily travel and perform their functions. Imagine that, baby has his/her own protective mechanism to prevent bleeding and repair organs…that wasn’t discovered until after we started routinely giving infants vitamin K injections.”

  53. […] keep in mind that – as I wrote in my post on the Vitamin K shot – “Best Boo-Boo Kisser South Of Puckett’s Gas Station” is about as official […]

  54. Miranda says:

    I have a friend who has had two vaginal births after THREE c-sections. Every woman’s body will be different, but a lot depends on how you were sewn up after your surgeries. You may choose to continue having cesareans for many reasons (and that is totally your decision and nobody should judge you for it), but I just want to make sure you know that vaginal birth may still be an option :D

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