Like everything else that happens in birth and after your baby is born, EVERYTHING, is your choice. Not many things are presented as choices but you are the primary caregiver for this child and you are the primary decision maker.
It is your job to evaluate the recommendations, ask questions, do your research, and come up with the decision that is right for you. Rarely do decision need to be made on the spot. Say thank you for the information, we will think about it and get back to you. Since you are the one who has to live with the outcome of your decision, you need to be comfortable with it.
The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends intramuscular injection of vitamin K for all newborn infants. The UK Department of Health also recommend it, as does the American Academy of Pediatrics. You need to make a choice for yourself.
Vitamin K started being given to babies routinely when we started circumcising boys soon after birth. It is easier for hospitals to give it to all babies as routine than to think about which ones would actually need it. Now it is recommended because of risk of hemorrhage but in reality that is not a great risk for all babies.
I do not agree with doing medical interventions, with potential harmful affects, on everyone for the few that actually need it. It puts your baby at risk, when their risk before the procedure may have been minimal. Risk and benefit is up to the individual to decide.
The long term risk to vitamin K injection are not known. No one has done prospective studies on what happens to these babies 50 years down the road. My personal slant is to be as conservative as possible. To me, that means do nothing to the body that does not have a clear specific benefit that outweighs any potential or unknown risk. For me, if its life or death, choose life. If its just because, I trust the body not man made interventions with unknown risk. The human body has been around for hundreds of thousands of years, vitamin K about 50 years. Again, benefit and risk is up to the individual and you need to make a choice for yourself.
Doing procedures as routine also allows our health care providers to be lazy and not to actually need to be capable of assessing and diagnosing a real situation when its needed. That leads to losing skills.
Another example is giving all women a shot of pitocin after birth instead of assessing if it is actually necessary. Or like doing cesareans for breech, when in reality, most can be birthed vaginally. You put a lot of women and babies at risk when you do an unnecessary cesarean and you lose the skills to effectively deal with a breech delivery and how to assess who actually needs a c-scetion.
My personal philosophy is that if we really needed to have that level of vitamin K at birth we would be born with it. We are not born ill equipped to deal with life. Breastfeeding gives babe some vitamin K and vaginal birth helps to colonize the gut with the bacteria that produce vitamin K. Demand delayed cord clamping so your baby has its full blood supply.
To make a fully informed decision you need to be fully informed. Read the statements from the CPS, UKDoH, and AAP (all linked above), read this by Dr. Mercola and watch the video by a PhD expert in vitamin K , read this great post about it, also read the info provided by the manufacturer see below.
You can also look at alternatives like the oral version of vitamin K or seeing a naturopath for a herbal version.
Once you are fully informed, the choice you make will be the right one for you and your family.
Here is some information to consider when making your decision, from Merck.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/33874512/Merck-Vitamin-K-Package-Insert-Aquamephyton-PI Ingredients and side effects listed from Merck’s version of vitamin K.
“Severe reactions including fatalities have occurred during and immediately after parenteral administration.”
“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.” [Dr. Nancy note: Why are we using something on newborns that is known to be toxic for newborns?]