Vit.K- Are Babies born Deficient? or Do Modern Life and Current Birthing Practices Create the very Problem that Vit.K supplementation is supposed to Solve?

So the question has been asked at Birth Without Fear: Vit.K…yes? no? why?!/birthwithoutfear

Well, I was about to give my two sense, when I remembered that I wrote about this at length in response to a post at Homebirth: A Midwife Mutiny written by Lisa Barrett (which is 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 equalisation 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 aren`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 exsisted 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 and then 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 it’s 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.

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.


16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Buscando la luz
    Aug 13, 2010 @ 19:16:58

    Great points here! Thanks for passing along the link. I’m so glad I’ve been eating dark leafy greens and plenty of healthy bacteria.


    • Sherry
      Aug 16, 2010 @ 18:59:54

      Your welcome….glad to hear that you are doing so and thank you for commenting!


      • Christine L
        Dec 17, 2011 @ 02:40:21

        I’m not sure if this has any basis on your evidence or study. But God in the Bible told his “children” to wait until the 8th day of life. Because he knew that was when it was “safe” to circumcise. I’m only concerned because I think now days how likely is a doctor to be ok with leaving the placenta on for that long? And then how are we to know it is safe, then? I guess do a test? This topic has always been hard for me. Because we have opted out of vaccines for our children. But could this be considered a vaccine, also. Right?! And if not. Like you said. How safe can it be?

      • Christine L
        Dec 17, 2011 @ 02:50:30

        I’m sorry. I didn’t realize they gave the Vit K shot to girls also. I did not inform myself of what my daughter was getting (5 1/2 years ago) But I do get what you are saying, about not getting enough through the placenta from their first moments after born. But still very curious about the boys and circumsion. I guess that’s another article. LOL!

  2. Linda Morge
    Aug 16, 2010 @ 17:58:04

    Thank you !! Just posted this on Facebook.

    Leaving A Baby´s Umbilical Cord To Stop Pulsating(Delayed Cord Clamping)

    Linda Morge


    • Sherry
      Aug 17, 2010 @ 02:38:48

      Thanks for posting to Facebook! This is such an important inquiry…..we need to let our fellow women know that that there is controversy surrounding this issue and that there is a wider to context to be considered before blindly accepting birth “protocol”.


  3. Samantha
    Aug 17, 2010 @ 02:14:01

    Wonderful, I will be passing this on to my clients. It is always good to find great articals for them to read giving them the power to make informed choices for their birth plans. Thank you


  4. Whittney
    Aug 28, 2010 @ 02:50:34

    I love all your points, but I think there is another very important question. Who decides what level of vitamin K is needed by a newborn, and what is that decision based on. What if they are supposed to have low levels of vitamin K for some reason we don’t yet understand. I think all these birthing practices and healthy eating should be addressed, but what if working to increase vitamin K beyond usual levels (in either mother or child) has it’s own consequences. I read an article about this concept and the increased risk of childhood leukemia somewhere, but I can’t find it right now.
    So: maybe the answer is simply eat right, move, don’t supplement ( unless there are special circumstances), allow nature to take it’s course completely, and have faith.


  5. Sherry Rothwell
    Aug 28, 2010 @ 03:28:00

    Thanks for adding that Wittney! Those are also two very worthy considerations worth exploring for mamas as well…I will look for the research on the link to leukemia which is mentioned in Lisa Barrett’s post (link at top of article)…..I don’t think she included references, but we should definately get the links to those studies and post them here. And yes, how do they determine what is low for a newborn? Anyone?


  6. Trackback: Vitamin K - Natural Parenting Forum
  7. Trackback: Vitamin K shots, would like your opinions - Page 2 - BabyandBump
  8. quest7
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 03:05:05

    In addition to your insight and reference to heart disease and bone loss associated with calcium, I would like to recommend Dr. Mercola’s site. Search his site with keywords, “vitamin k heart fermented,” or something similar. The following excerpt is taken from

    –Vitamin K engages in a delicate dance with vitamin D; whereas vitamin D provides improved bone development by helping you absorb calcium, there is new evidence that vitamin K2 directs the calcium to your skeleton, while preventing it from being deposited where you don’t want it — i.e., your organs, joint spaces, and arteries. A large part of arterial plaque consists of calcium deposits (atherosclerosis), hence the term “hardening of the arteries.”–


  9. Lilie
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 03:47:11

    I wanted a homebirth, but it wasn’t possible and I tried natural for 12 hours then thankfully and unregrettably caved to a dose of narcotics until the epidural guy came up and was in labor for another 12 (and it got markedly worse). I asked for a couple cc’s less of it so I could feel the birth this time, which I did. I did stick with refusing all shots including the Vitamin K. I figured I was eating healthy and breastfeeding afterward so no worries. Plus what’s the chance my baby will get cut? I discussed the delayed cord clamping and my doctor said that if the baby is higher than the placenta, then the blood rushes to the placenta, and vice versa if the placenta is higher. There seemed to be something very unsettling for him regarding this issue. He has been delivering babies for probably 30 years. He did wait to cut, but now I’m not sure if he clamped right away… Anyway, was hoping someone could address this. Also, from my research I thought it had to do with iron – delayed cutting. My son’s great by the way,. but they wouldn’t circumcise (the only subject I didn’t research enough during pregnancy) but now I’m glad. 🙂


  10. Elanne
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 03:11:24

    Actually most modern people are very deficient in Vit K2 – which is not found in greens or alfalfa, but in grass-fed and fermented dairy products. And in Goose liver. Traditional peoples used to have a lot of it in their diets and that is what gave them such beautiful bone structures (i.e. they had room for all of their teeth and didn’t need braces, have sinus problems etc). Today we see many children with narrow faces and crooked teeth – a sign of Vit K2 deficiency.


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