Christine Habel, Development Director, Your Whole Baby
Many of today’s parents are questioning the procedures that are routinely done to babies at birth and in their first days of life. Usually given in the first 24 hours of life, the vitamin K injection increases blood clotting ability, and therefore has been shown to decrease vitamin K deficiency bleeding. However, some parents are concerned about the ingredients in the shot and struggle with the decision to accept it or not. We strongly encourage you to research the injection, discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider, and ask about alternatives.
Many parents who prefer an alternative to the vitamin K injection are pressured into it because doctors will not circumcise their son right after birth unless it has been administered. Circumcision is a medical procedure in which the baby's penis will be cut and it will bleed. Vitamin K is needed to reduce the risk that he will bleed too much, though it does not eliminate the risk. If you are concerned about the health risks of the injection, we urge you to first reconsider your circumcision decision. If you understand the harms and risks of circumcision, and choose to keep your son intact, you can make your vitamin K injection decision without the pressure of a pending neonatal surgical procedure which requires it.
The risks of circumcision to a newborn boy are many, and they far outweigh those of the vitamin K shot. Stanford Medicine has an extensive list of these potential complications such as permanent damage to the glans (penis head), infection in the wound, meatal stenosis, painful adhesions, blood loss, shock, difficulty latching to breastfeed, and even death due to hemorrhage or infection. All of these risks are taken on by the parent and doctor, on behalf of the baby, for a procedure that is completely unnecessary. Routine (as opposed to medically-necessary) infant circumcision is often not covered by insurance because it is not fixing any problem, and there is no substantial benefit to the procedure. Furthermore, the chance of you needing to seek follow-up medical care (and possibly an additional procedure!) for your son's circumcision is far higher than the chance that you you will need any medical care for his properly-cared-for intact penis.
A holistic view of the body demands that we leave all of its parts alone until a pressing medical problem requires intervention. Then we may heal the problem naturally, we may choose a medicine or a procedure to treat it, or as a last resort, we may amputate the damaged or diseased part. Routine infant circumcision jumps straight to amputation without even a hint of disease. It only makes sense that a parent who wishes to decline the injection of ingredients they believe are unnatural and harmful would also refuse the unnatural and harmful removal of their son's healthy foreskin.
As you weigh the risks and benefits of each newborn procedure, consider why you are consenting to the procedure in the first place. Does the procedure fix a problem or create one? Is it reducing or eliminating risk or does it actually increase risk? Are you making your decision to accept a procedure based on current, unbiased medical research or simply because it is the standard of care or what "everyone else does"? Ask yourself the pressing medical question that should be on the heart of every doctor: Does this intervention help or harm? For minuscule benefits in reduction of infection, circumcision brutally harms the penis and disposes of the protective and pleasurable foreskin. The way to make a natural, holistic, intervention-free decision for his penis is to keep him intact.