Erythromycin eye ointment
This is an antibiotic ointment that goes into your baby’s eyes right after birth, with the intent of preventing ophthalmia neonatorum (ON) – a type of pink eye that can cause blindness. The two main causes of this infection are if the mother has chlamydia and/or gonorrhea, two forms of sexually transmitted infections.
Vitamin K injection
Vitamin K is a vitamin needed for blood clotting. Our bodies do not make Vitamin K on our own – we get it from eating specific foods or from bacteria in our gut. A baby who does not have enough vitamin K can develop sudden bleeding – vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB). Vitamin K levels are the lowest in a two to three day-old newborn and don’t reach adult levels until around six months of age. Very little vitamin K is transferred via the placenta and babies don’t have enough bacteria in their gut to create it. Additionally, breast milk has very little vitamin K. To receive this vitamin, your baby is given an injection shortly after birth, and parents can request a “preservative-free” version.
Read more about the evidence on the Vitamin K shot for newborns here.
Hepatitis B vaccine
Hepatitis B is a serious infection communicated through blood or sexual contact. If your baby is born in the hospital, medical providers will give her an injection prior to discharge. Some families may opt to have this vaccine given at a later time by their pediatrician.
Like all other procedures, these are choices you can accept or decline. Discuss each of these options with your doctor or midwife.