Breaking It Down: Informed Consent in Newborn Procedures

faith September 3, 2013

The most popular post ever on Modern Alternative pregnancy is titled, “You Want to Stick that in my Baby Where?! Informed Consent in Newborn Procedures”. As of last night, the post has 58 comments. It is viewed thousands of times every month by many, many people. The overall consensus on this post is that the author (who no longer writes for MAP) is ignorant at best and pushing her choices on everyone else at worst.

I respectfully disagree with this consensus and am, quite frankly, fed up with the comments that we receive on this post on a weekly basis. Comments such as this one,

“Anyone who decides against what you called the “heel poke” test is a fool! Yes, that may seem harsh but my daughter has PKU. Neither my husband nor myself have been able to find anything in our family histories to indicate that it was present but it is. I love my daughter and other than her special diet she s no different from any of her friends. Had we opted out of the test and not found out, our daughter would most likely now be severely be mentally retarded. Why would you not want to save your child from that if possible?!”

And this one,

“As an RN, I agree you should be informed about what is happening during and after the birth of your child. I have a few issues with this list though. Several states require vitamin K and eye antibiotics, meaning you really don’t have a choice. A heel stick, or PKU, should be be drawn 24 hours after birth and tests for several abnormalities which could otherwise go undiagnosed. Circumcision cannot be preformed without consent from the parents. And the APGAR posted here is not for people.
Be informed, but get your information from a reliable source. Also know that the doctor and nurses are there to help. If they are doing something you are unhappy with, ask why…but be aware that it might be for the best. Child birth can be dangerous for Mom and baby.”

It seems to me that most people who choose to read this post are grossly misunderstanding the purpose behind it. The purpose of this post is to raise awareness of what the typical hospital birth newborn procedures are so that pregnant women can make an informed choice before their child is born. The purpose of this post is not to tell women what choices they should make, but to act as a jumping off point for families to begin their research and make a decision that is right for their family. Sadly, many women are not even aware of what will happen to their baby after birth and, in the hospital, if you have not voiced your desires prior to baby being born, the staff will just act in accordance with their standard operating procedure.

So, this month we are focusing in on each procedure, weighing the risks and the benefits, offering alternative options and, again, providing a jumping off point for women and their husbands to begin their research and make an informed decision that is right for their family.

Please join us this month as we cover, among others, the following topics:

  • Eyrthromycin
  • Hatting
  • NICU Procedures
  • Hep B
  • Cord Care
  • Tongue Tie
  • Homebirth Procedures

One final note…this is an alternative community. For the most part, the women that are here are not going to blindly listen to someone simply because they have RN or MD following their name. Throwing those credentials around like they give you a superiority to everyone else will not get you very far in this community. I welcome discussion, but please keep it kind!


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  1. Looking forward to this series!! Unfortunately if we don’t make a choice to stay informed, no one else will tell us! Yes, the doctors and nurses are the to help but they often do procedures because it’s the “norm” and that needs to change! 🙂


  2. Woot Woot! I am so excited for this series. I am due in three weeks and love getting new information and ideas about baby. We are planning a home birth so we don’t have to worry about a lot of this (hopefully), but we still have most the procedures in our birth plan in case we end up in the hospital.


  3. Sounds good! Love this post.


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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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