Shortly after a baby is born, it is routine for the health care provider to place drops in their eyes. Typically it is silver nitrate or erythromycin. In Ontario, this is the law. When we requested that our midwife not give the drops, we were informed that they are legally bound to call in social services at that point. It’s not that your child would be permanently taken from you, but rather that valuable hours shortly after birth would be stolen away as you are temporarily separated from your child.
Why the drops?
Bacterial infection of the eyes is the primary cause of blindness in infants.
This is the kind of bacteria that causes Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia. During birth, the bacteria can be passed on to the newborn, even if the mother has no symptoms. The drops are to prevent infection from this bacteria.
Why do I have an issue with it?
I have an issue with it, because it takes away my choices as a parent. After I leave the hospital I am allowed to decide for my child whether to breastfeed or formula feed. As they grow I can decide to send them to school or home school. Most notably, from the moment I leave the hospital I get to decide on their medical attention for the most part (i.e. to vaccinate or not, to take antibiotics or not, etc.) So why, at birth, do I not have the right as a parent to make the choice to forego these eye drops?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about neglecting the health of my child. But during pregnancy, numerous times, a mother is tested for STD’s, including those listed above. She is tested again just before giving birth. If I know, and the health care practitioners know, that I do not have these infections, why are we forced to administer these drops to a newborn?
I, for one, would like to see this law changed in Ontario. I would love to work with a lawyer to get this law changed, so that when it has been proven that the mother is infection free, the choice is hers as to whether or not her child receives these drops. What do you think?
Receive our Newsletter!