Nourish Mama by Sherry Rothwell
Nourish Mama, a nutritional program by Sherry Rothwell

Vitamin K: are babies born deficient?

..Or does modern life and current birthing practices create the very problem that Vit.K supplementation is supposed to solve?

Vit.K…yes? no? why?

Before giving my two cents, when I want to share a quote by Lisa Barrett (who has a fantastic blog by the way and I recommend that you read her whole article and thread on this topic!)

Lisa writes,

This brings us to the action of the third stage in all of this. If the placenta isn’t detached from the baby until after it has birthed then there is an equalization of the blood passing to and from the placenta: this creates just the right amount of transfer of all the cells required. There is a higher haematocrit which essentially makes the blood thicker and stickier. Isn’t this the natural way to prevent bleeding in the newborn until vit K can be made by the gut flora and what is in breast milk can be absorbed by the baby. This is a good reason not to interfere with the third stage. Even cutting the cord when it doesn’t seem to be pulsing isn’t a guarantee that the natural process has taken place, and I believe that the potential for complications due to that can cause bleeding issues for the mother if cut before placenta is out.”

While I don’t profess to know the ultimate truth here or have the final answer on this subject, I sure do have a lot of questions.

First of all, I think that Lisa`s point is a poignant one and probably the most important consideration here.

As well, would it not be possible that while we are also “creating” this “deficiency” of adequate Vit.K (by cutting the cord too soon and not enabling baby to have “thicker and stickier blood”), but we might also want to ask, “how much Vit. K is stored in that 1/3 or more missing blood supply“ when the cord is cut before it stops pulsating (as is done in hospitals and even with some homebirth midwives….gasp!)?

Could synthetic Vit.K -whether injected or given orally- be essentially like a “drug” only treating the symptom of mismanaged birth? If that is the case, then the root cause of vitamin K deficiency at birth, is not being addressed-that of interrupting normal third stage physiology.

It is now culturally acceptable in most places to use synthetic vitamins, but are we really just taking part in a huge experiment with our bodies and with our babies? Just today an article was published that showed that women supplementing with Calcium were at greater risk of heart attacks and that they are’t effectively increasing their bone density either!

Have we forgotten that vitamins and minerals work synergistically, and are (provided in nature with many co-nutrients), many of which haven’t even been discovered?

How arrogant can we be to assume that we have this whole vitamin thing figured out?….I mean, really, we didn’t even know that vitamins existed until 1911 and now we are injecting them into our babies’ bloodstream?

Is it not the way of vitamins and minerals to enter the body via food and first through the digestive tract before they hit the portal vein to enter the blood stream? Eating Vit.K in it’s natural form is one thing – synthesizing it (from who knows what kind of raw materials) and then injecting it via the skin is another.

And then there is the question of the modern diet and its deficiencies.

How does the mother’s Vit.K status affect the newborn’s status at birth? Is baby’s Vit. K status limited, because mother has less than optimal levels herself?

Does the average pregnant woman really eat a lot of greens, just because she is told they are good for her?

As well, many of us have imbalanced and inadequate beneficial intestinal micro flora… we can make our own Vit.K, but are we doing this optimally when we have more “bad” bacteria in our guts, than good bacteria?

And we pass on either our balanced or imbalanced microflora to baby….does this impact the speed at which baby starts producing adequate Vit.K?

So my long drawn out point is, why not attend to our digestive health and microflora, learn how to add greens to our diet in way that tastes good and drink infusions of Alfalfa or other vitamin K rich nutritive herbs (at the very least during the last month of our pregnancies) along with choosing a place of birth and care provider who we can trust to leave our baby’s cord intact at least for the first hour after birth.

In my mind at least, this is a logical, preventative and proactive approach.

As well, according to the research that I have been doing in regards to delayed cord cutting, it seems possible that immediate cord cutting itself may contribute the to heamorrhage that Vit.k is supposed to protect our baby’s from. So instead of worrying about using Vit.K or not, we should be looking at other contributing factors as to why a baby might bleed, such as trauma at birth, as well practices such as immediate cord cutting, should we not?

Here is another useful reference:

Judith Mercer writes:
“Infants in the delayed cord clamping group were found to have fewer incidences of any level of intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) defined by the reports of cranial ultrasounds routinely ordered during the first 28 days in the NICU. The incidence of IVH was equally divided between the stratified groups (ICC 7/7, DCC 2/2) although the majority occurred in infants less than 30 weeks gestation. One infant in the DCC group was a protocol violation, meaning that the cord was clamped prior to 30 seconds in violation of the study protocol. In addition, infants in the DCC group were less likely to have blood culture-proven (confirmed) sepsis during the NICU stay.
Source: Science and Sensibility 

Expanding our thinking to have a systems view of the question itself, allows us to have a much broader perspective. When we look at all the possible factors involved, we just might find that the whole problem does not really even exist in the natural course of things, except that we make it so.



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