Eye Drops for Newborns
Shortly after your baby is born, the nurse will probably take your baby to a warming table where they clean up your baby a little bit, weigh and measure him, and bring him back to you. When he comes back though you will probably notice that his eyes look wet or greasy and that he was given eye drops. This is rarely talked about, and most people don’t even know WHY their child is given eye drops at birth.
Eye drops at birth are given for the main purpose of helping to prevent any possible infection in your babies eyes from their trip down the birth canal during labor. Certain bacteria, like those caused from STD’s like gonorrhea and Chlamydia can cause permanent vision problems and blindness as well as spreading throughout the body and causing other problems. They eye drops are just a precaution.
Most of the time a woman is not even made aware that when their baby is brought back to them, that the baby would have received eye drops. It is a practice that is accepted and done in much of the world, and is even a law in many states. The most common antibiotic given today is erythromycin, however some places still administer silver nitrate which is the first antibiotic that was given starting back in the late 1800’s.
Some women will question why their baby was given eye drops after a c-section delivery. The opinions on this vary. Some people believe that if a woman’s water was broken before delivery either naturally or by the doctor, that there is a chance that the baby could still have made contact with any infection that might be present. Also, when given vaginal exams, had internal monitors, etc that infection might have reached the baby. If your doctor or nurse believes this is possible, they might give your baby eye drops after your cesarean delivery. Other times it is routinely done by the hospital as part of the newborn care, whether you have a c-section or vaginal delivery. Much like the Hepatitis B shot and hearing tests are routinely done in most hospitals today.
If you have any concerns over your baby receiving eye drops, or any other of the routine baby care methods, you should be sure to talk to your doctor or midwife prior to your delivery, as well as put your instructions and concerns in your birth plan so that everyone is aware of your wishes on the day of delivery.
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