We’ve realized with our first pregnancy that there are so many decisions. More than we ever realized we were going to have to make. We are trying our best to make informed, educated decisions and share that with our readers in hopes that it educates someone else as well. I have learned to question EVERYTHING and not just accept the norm. **Disclaimer: With that being said, the below is my own opinion. I am not a medical professional and all decisions you make about care of your newborn should be researched and discussed with your medical personnel.
So what exactly is the eye ointment for newborns? Before being pregnant the first time, I would always see pictures of this eye goop in people’s newborn baby’s eyes. But I had no idea what is was or why this eye ointment for newborns was being used.
In most places it is required that the hospital give it to your newborn, however you can sign a waiver declining. I have heard horror stories where the baby still gets it and has a reaction, so make sure everyone is on board and knows your desires.
What is it? An antibiotic. Usually erythromycin or tetracycline is used; however, there are still places where silver nitrate is used.
Why it’s used? In order to protect a newborn’s eyes from syphilis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia. If one of these diseases comes in contact with your babies eyes, they can develop pink eye.
Why decline? What the drops protect from are all diseases you should have been tested for during your pregnancy. The antibiotic makes the baby’s eyes sore, swollen, and red and can also cause blurry vision. It can cause bonding issues in the beginning, which can in turn affect breastfeeding. According to the CDC, the eye drops are also one of the four causes of pink eye in newborns.
Summing it up. Essentially a newborn receives the drops to protect against STDs a mother may have (but has already been tested for), so the baby does not develop pink eye at birth from coming in contact with the STDs. However, the drops themselves can cause pink eye.
So why are we giving babies drops to prevent an infection that itself can cause the infection? Andrew and I have opted to decline this procedure at birth.