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E is for Eye Ointment after Birth

Baby New rubbing eye.jpg

The administration of eye ointment to infants after birth (Erythromycin, to be precise) is an antibiotic treatment which is offered for infants at birth. This is one of a number of options you will discuss with your care provider in advance of or immediately after the birth of your baby. 

During childbirth classes and prenatal visits with clients, this is a topic that comes up often, and one that most families feel a little bit confused on. 

Is erythromycin an outdated practice, or a necessary safety precaution?

Our first answer: Have an open discussion with your care provider; this their area of expertise, and out of our scope to offer advice. Like with any option or intervention that you’re unsure about, one of things we always share with our clients during prenatal visits and classes, is to pull B.R.A.I.N. out of your back pocket to help you formulate questions and make an informed decision. 

In the meantime, what IS Erythromycin, and what is it being used for? 

Erythromycin is a prophylactic (a fancy term for: ‘preventative’), antibiotic treatment used to treat neonatal conjunctivitis (newborn eye infection contracted during delivery).  Eye infections are common and usually harmless, unless the infant has been exposed to an active, sexually transmitted infection, Chlamydia being the most prevalent. 

There is a risk of blindness to infants who are exposed to Chlamydia, and routine administration of prophylactic eye treatment has been used to reduce the incidence of severe complications from this kind of infection since the early 1800’s. 

While Erythromycin treatment has proved to reduce the development of infection due to exposure, it is not 100% effective, and comes with it’s own set of risks. Research is increasingly seeming to suggest that the benefit of this routine medication does not outweigh the potential risks associated with routine use. 

STI’s like Chlamydia are routinely screened during your prenatal care blood work. If you are unsure if you may be a carrier, ask your care provider to check that your blood work is up to date and discuss the safest options. 

We like this thorough explanation on Erythromycin, written by Evidence Based Birth. The Canadian Paediatric Society also put out this research article in 2015 that explains their stance on this issue. 

What did you decide for you infant - did you opt in our out of eye ointment, and why? 

 

 

 

Is It Safe to Eat My Placenta?

 

Our answer: Not necessarily. 

A recent warning was put out by the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC), advising mothers to reconsider placenta consumption to avoid the potential risks it may carry. This statement was triggered by an incident where an infant became ill from a late-onset Group-B Streptococcal infection. The infants mother had been taking placenta capsules, and it was confirmed that the capsules contained the GBS bacteria. 

The concerns being brought forward about the risks of placenta consumption are not a foreign concept to In Bloom.

In fact, this case highlights the very reason only a ProDoula, LLC,  trained Postpartum Placenta Specialist, will handle your placenta. ProDoula’s placenta training is rigorous and thorough, and sets the highest industry standards for this practice, seeking first to prevent the spread of pathogens due to improper handling and processing. 

You can read Pro Doula's position statement on the recent CDC article, here. 

While it can’t be confirmed that the contaminated capsules are the cause of the infection,  the details of the CDC article imply that risks could have been minimized on all fronts, had processing standards been stricter. We know: 

 

The placenta was transported by the encapsulator from the hospital, and processed in her own space. 

According to CDC’s statement, “The mother confirmed that she had registered with Company A to pick up and encapsulate her placenta for ingestion.” Knowledge of how the placenta was transported, stored, cleanliness of the environment, or the potential for cross-contamination from other placenta processing in the environment it was exposed to, are all unknown.

Our encapsulator does not handle your placenta until we arrive at your home. We provide our clients with handling and storage instructions that follow food-safe practices, and transport guidelines that keep in line with World Health Organizations protocol for organ transport. While placenta pick-up and drop-off by an encapsulator may seem convenient, it carries too many unknown variables to deem it safe. We only process in our clients home, following the protocols set out by our Blood Borne Pathogens certification. 

 

“According to Company A’s website, the placenta is cleaned, sliced, and dehydrated at 115°F–160°F (46°C–71°C), then ground and placed into about 115–200 gelatin capsules, and stored at room temperature.”

We don’t know the exact temperature the placenta was dehydrated, which means it may have been dried to a temperature that allows the potential for bacteria to grow and multiply. Storage of any meat product should be in the fridge or freezer, not room temperature. 

Our encapsulation process adheres strictly to Food Safe protocols, which require that meat be steamed and dehydrated to an internal temperature of 160F, in order to eliminate harmful bacteria. We advise that pills be refrigerated for up to three months, and frozen if not consumed within that time frame. 

 

When considering placenta encapsulation, be sure:

  • You are given adequate information on how to transport and store your placenta safely
  • All processing and handling of the placenta happens in your space, under your care. 

  • The placenta is cooked and dehydrated to an internal temperature that adheres to the food-safe protocols

  • You are given proper instructions for storage of your pills

  • Your encapsulator is trained and accountable to a recognized certifying organization 

  • Your encapsulator holds liability insurance for this service

  • Your encapsulator carries a current Canadian Blood Born Pathogens (BBP) Certification 

 

This  recent incident has only solidified how strongly we feel about the future regulation of this industry, and our commitment to adhering to the safest protocols, in order to offer the safest option for placenta encapsulation. If you are a care provider wanting more information, or pregnant and have questions about our process, we are happy to discuss any questions or concerns you might have. 

When Baby Bites (your nipple...youch!)

If you're reading this, it's probably because you've experienced the blight of the nurseling bite. And it hurts, just like they said it would. 

Baby may have gummed your nipple a few times in the months you've been breastfeeding, which in itself is an undoubtedly unpleasant experience; but the first time they take a chomp with their sharp little teeth, mid feed, you may just let out a startling cry, because: IT HURTS!

There are a few myths and quite a bit of conflicting information about your nurselings + biting. We hope to clarify this issue, give you strategies to avoid it, and help you carry on your merry way without fearing the next unsuspecting chomp…

 

The Myth: When baby bites, it’s time to wean. 

Your baby biting isn’t an indication that their time at the breast has run out. Biting while nursing is usually a sign of teething, boredom,  impatience or simply experimentation at the breast. Most baby’s will try out a nibble or two at some time or another in your nursing relationship. The minimum recommendation for nursing is 1 year, and World Health Organization suggests nursing until age two. 

The Reason

There are a few reasons that biting might happen. 

  • Teething: there's a good chance your baby is just looking for a good place to soothe those throbbing gums.
  • Impatient: your letdown might not be as quick as baby wants to drink milk, causing them to bite out of impatience and frustration
  • Bored: if baby is finished feeding, or distracted by the environment, this is a likely opportunity to get a bit lazy, or try something a little different (like latching onto your nipple with their teeth - fun for them, perhaps, but not for you!)

The Solution   

It's important to realize that biting can't happen if your baby is latched on properly. When your baby bites, he's lost his latch on your nipple, and is no longer trying to drink from your breast. So what can you do?

  • Pay attention to his cues. Baby's will often bite at the end of a feed. If you notice your baby seems to be finished at the breast, unlatch him before he can bite. If biting happens at the beginning of a feed, try some hand-expression to get the milk flowing before you latch baby on the breast. 
  • Try minimizing distractions: try (if you can), to nurse in a quiet, uninteresting environment so that baby doesn't get distracted from breastfeeding and pull your nipple along with a curious head turn  (we like to call this, "nip lash", and it's often accompanied by biting) 
  • Offer something for teething before hand - a cold cloth, teething oil, or whatever comfort measure you have been using for those sore little gums that may be causing him to bite.

What to do if it happens (again)

Try your best not to startle baby with a yelp or a shout. This is often upsetting for your baby, and can cause them to refuse the breast (otherwise known as a nursing strike). Instead, unlatch your baby carefully, take them off the breast, and tell them a firm but gentle, "no". This shows them that biting means that milk goes away, and hopefully will help break the cycle. Some baby's will be entertained if you give them a strong reaction, and bite to get that reaction out of you again (they're smarter than we think!)