Three Newborn Procedures You Should Skip After Baby is Born

tree newborn procedures to skip

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You made it.  You gave birth, but it’s not over for you or baby.

You still need to deliver the placenta, establish a breastfeeding relationship with baby, and begin the recovery process.

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For baby, she will begin understanding this new world she was born into.  She will begin bonding with you, and will already begin receiving her first shots.

Now, I am a more natural parent, but I still vaccinate my child.

However, I believe in reading and understanding vaccinations, and realizing as you and your children grow certain vaccines are better not received (specifically the Gardasil vaccine).

Vaccines do possess a risk for anyone who receives them.  This is not an opinion it is a fact.

Congress actually passed The 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act which gave birth to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to provide financial compensation to families with vaccine injured children.

Sadly, that act protects the pharmaceutical companies, and all compensation money comes from tax dollars.

However, this post is not about the vaccine debate.

Right after birth (usually within the first two hours) your baby will receive her first vaccines and medications.

Routinely, newborn babies receive a Vitamin K shot, Hepatitis B vaccine, antibiotic eye drop treatment, and a bath.

three newborn procedures you should skip

Ina May Gaskin: Great Resource for Pregnant Women

If you are currently pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant in the near future, I highly recommend Ina May Gaskin’s book Guide to Childbirth.  

If you don’t know who she is, Ina May Gaskin is the leading Midwife in America.  She’s delivered thousands of babies, and even has a birthing position named after her after discovering a way for women to vaginally birth breech babies.

I devoured her book while pregnant, and it completely changed my mentality on the whole industry of birth in America.  No matter how you plan to deliver, every woman can receive valuable information and confidence from Ina May and her book.

In addition to pregnancy and birth, she speaks about several common newborn procedures and why they are practiced.

What are the procedures and why do they receive them?

Vitamin K

Vitamin K assists in the clotting of blood.  Very few babies (about one percent) are born with a Vitamin K deficiency.  A deficiency in vitamin K can lead to hemorrhaging in an other wise healthy baby.

Babies receive this dose of Vitamin K in the form of a shot in the leg as a precaution.  It reduces the risk of a Vitamin K deficient baby to hemorrhage significantly.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a nasty virus.  It causes severe and serious liver inflammation.  This liver inflammation may lead to liver failure and death.

How do people contract Hep B?  People acquire Hep B through contact of vaginal fluid, semen, blood, and other bodily fluids from someone carrying Hep B.

Why do they vaccinate newborn babies?

Protection from the virus requires three doses of the Hep B vaccine administered over a period of time.

Healthcare professionals give the vaccination to newborn babies because the baby is there.  Fearful the parents will not bring the baby back for the other rounds of the vaccine, they feel better knowing at least one round was delivered.

Antibiotic Eye Drop Treatment

Babies routinely receive antibiotic eye drops soon after birth.  Healthcare professionals give these eye drops to babies to prevent infection, known as neonatal conjunctivitis, and loss of eye sight in the newborn.

How can the newborn receive an infection in her eyes?  If the birth mother has Chlamydia or gonorrhea, the baby may can pick up those germs while traveling through the birth canal.

First Bath

Babies, generally, receive their first bath hours after they are born.  They do it for the sole reason it makes them clean.  They are easier to pass around, and safer for nurses because they are not covered in vaginal fluid and blood.

Many hospitals do not allow nurses to touch a newborn without gloves until after they have been bathed.

Why you should skip or delay three of those routine procedures

Did you know three of those four procedures (or all four depending on who you talk to or how you feel) are not needed right after birth?

The day your baby is born is a huge day for her (obviously).  Everything she ever knew prior changed.  Up until that point she only knew the inside of your uterus.

Then, after hours of being squeezed and pushed she was forced out a small opening into a world she knows nothing about.

The last thing a newborn needs is more frightening things happening to her.


The three procedures I delayed or skipped entirely

After the birth of my daughter, my husband and I chose to delay her first Hep B shot, her first bath, and skip the eye drops entirely.

See Post: My Natural, Non-Medicated Birth

Heres why…

First Hep B Shot

As I mentioned before the only reason newborns are routinely given their first dose of Hep B right after birth is for the medical staff to make sure that baby at least receives one dose.

However, it is not required that the baby has this dose at this time.

As long as the birth mother tests negative for Hep B during pregnancy and you will not be bringing your baby home into an environment with people sharing needles and having lots of unprotected sex with multiple partners, there is no harm in waiting until her two month check up for the first round of Hep B.

In fact, it seems to be in her best interest to wait until the two month check up.  Studies show a possible increased link to SIDS and babies receiving the Hep B vaccine right after birth.

I think everyone would agree we want to do everything in our power to reduce the SIDS risk.

newborn routines to skip

First Bath

Wait, wait, wait to give your baby her first bath!  Yes, she comes out all bloody and gooey, but that ugly “cheese” all over her skin is known as vernix.

Vernix is vital to a newborn.  It provides natural moisture for her skin, so you don’t need to continue to put lotion on her.

It, also, provides protection from common bacterial infections.  Leave that vernix on your baby as long as possible.  Then, rub it into her skin, not off.

A better breastfeeding relationship, is another benefit to delaying her first bath.  It may take some time to get your baby in the breastfeeding groove.  My daughter refused to open her mouth.  She even cried with her mouth shut.

My midwife said,  “If only we could get her to cry with her mouth open, we could just shove her on there!”

The longer amount of time you have to bond with baby skin to skin after birth the greater chances you have to develop a successful breastfeeding relationship.

Delaying the first bath also reduces her hypothermia risk.  Your baby just left an environment where she floated comfortably at 98.6 degrees for nine months.  Now she’s in a room most likely at 70 degrees.

Bathing her will stress her out and cause a drop in her blood sugar.  With this drop in blood sugar she will experience difficulty leveling out her body temperature.

However, keeping her skin-to-skin with mom keeps her at the perfect temperature, and allows proper bonding.

My husband and I waited until our daughter was about three days old before we gave her her first bath at home.  Others wait an entire week.  However long you wait is up to you, but please wait!

newborn procedures to skip

Antibiotic Eye Drops

As I mentioned before, nurses administer these eye drops to prevent neonatal conjunctivitis.

Neonatal conjunctivitis causes an infection and can lead to blindness.   Moms with Chlamydia or gonorrhea may pass those infections to their babies.  These infections lead to neonatal conjunctivitis.

However, every woman is tested for these two STDs during pregnancy.

So, why do they still use these eye drops on infants if mom tested negative?  Just in case.

Just in case mom contracted one or both after testing negative.

Listen, I’m not claiming to know how you live your life, or say how you should live your life, but I believe most women will not be contracting Chlamydia or gonorrhea between the few months they are tested during pregnancy and when they give birth.

So, if you tested negative for both STDs and are confident you didn’t contract it before birth after testing, I suggest declining the eye drops.

The eye drops cause blurry vision for your newborn during the first few hours after receiving them.

It just so happens, that your newborn will be the most alert and active for a LONG while during those first two hours.

So, we traditionally put eye drops causing blurry vision during the one time they will be opening their eyes for a considerable amount of time for weeks to come.

Unfortunately, the ability for parents to turn down these drops varies by state.  So, look into your state and see if you are able.


Why I didn’t turn down the Vitamin K Shot

Some people also turn down the Vitamin K shot for their newborn.

My husband and I, however, did have our daughter receive this shot an hour after birth.

The reasoning?

Every other routine procedure we were able to control.

I can make sure I do not contract an STD or Hep B after testing negative.

I, also, feel confident my husband and I will be able to successfully bathe our baby after the right amount of time passes.

However, I cannot control if my daughter is in the one percent born with a Vitamin K deficiency.

We decided it better to give her the shot than take the risk and find out she’s Vitamin K deficient once she starts hemorrhaging.


Rethink newborn procedures

Newborn procedures have changed over the years, but unneeded ones are still being pushed.

Make sure to do your own research and decide what is best for you and your baby.

Most people do not realize they have the power to turn down certain procedures.

Once you decide what you do and don’t want, make sure to include it in your birth plan.

Have you already given birth?  Did you turn down these procedures or any others?


Read Next: How to Survive Postpartum Recovery

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2 Replies to “Three Newborn Procedures You Should Skip After Baby is Born”

  1. Thanks for the article- very informative. After TONS of research I declined the eye drops, hep shot, and vitamin K for my baby boy. (I declined Vitamin K based on the extreme rarity of the hemorrhage condition). However, I never thought to decline the bath! I will certainly Reconsider this for our next baby!
    I will also say I was very thankful for all the nurses who accepted our decision to decline without argument. They did, however, send in a Peditrician who gave quite the lecture on declining. I know she was concerned about the safety of the baby, but would not accept the fact that I carefully made the decision after much research from reliable sources. Anyone else face lots of pressure after declining?

    1. Lisa, thanks for sharing! Yes, as I mentioned lots of families choose to decline the Vitamin K shot as well. It’s just about deciding what your are comfortable with.

      Luckily for us we did not receive any negative feedback or pressure to have any of them done, but we also used a midwife.

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