Below are real life stories submitted by people around the world for our recently published Article – Evidence on: Erythromycin Eye Ointment for Newborns.
“I had declined the eye ointment with my second baby already and was given major attitude by the nurses in spite of them not even knowing WHY the ointment was necessary. They harassed me during labor and were very unsupportive. With my next birth (twins via c-section,) I also declined. This was at a different hospital. The pediatrician was extremely condescending and also seemed baffled. She said she had never encountered a parent who declined the eye drops, demanded oral Vit. K , and refused to have the babies bathed at the hospital. She must have repeated that 4 separate times. So, two different hospitals and staff, both unable to give me real reasons why I needed to get the ointment, both very rude and unsupportive about my decision.”
“after being pushed to and lied to about not being able to decline the ointment with my first daughter (in a hospital), I researched and learned the truth. So for my 2nd daughter, it was declined. The birth center was 100% supportive of my decision.”
“I declined it on 2 out of 3 of my children. My first was born in a hospital and they didn’t really give me much of an option. I chose to decline it because I am very sure of my sexual history and my husband’s and I get tested for all STDs yearly on top of that, so it seemed unnecessary to do it again, it seemed to bother my first horns eyes a little and he didn’t look around as much as my other 2.”
“I tested negative at the beginning of my pregnancy for gonorrhea and chlamydia and I was in a monogamous relationship so there was no need to treat the baby. I wanted my birth to be as natural and medication free as possible.”
“I declined all newborn prophylactic drugs including erithromycin for my daughter’s birth, which went incredibly well. When she was a week or two old, I noticed that one of her eyes didn’t seem to open as much as the other, though neither appeared to be inflamed or irritated in any way. Our midwife took a look at them at a postpartum home visit and said that there certainly was an issue but it was beyond her scope to give anythinf more than a guess. Our regular family doctor couldn’t get us in that day, but another family doctor at that practice wanted to see us right away. At the appointment, her questions focused more on the setting and details of my daughter’s birth than my observations about her eyes. She actually took one look at me and assumed I had a home birth (by my appearance?) She was totally unaware that a certified freestanding birthcenter was literally a five minute walk from the hospital complex where this practice is located. She asked probing questions about the birth center facility equipment in a skeptical manner and was surprised to find that it was equipped to do virtually everything except surgery. She was very concerned that I declined the eye ointment for my daughter and asked if it was because the midwife didn’t have access to it. I explained that I was not concerned due to my GBS- status and opted to decline. Anyway, she finally took a quick look in my daugter’s eyes with the ophthalmoscope and dismissively said, “It’s probably conjunctivitis due to lack of eye antibiotics”, wrote us a script for erithromycin, and sent us on our way. I was livid, I called my midwife and she was livid. I finally got a better look at my daughter’s tiny eyes, consulted Dr. Google (while I awaited an appt with our regular doctor who is an excellent physician), and discovered that my daughter has bilateral microphthalmia (underdeveloped, smaller than average eyes) and bilateral colobomas (a cleft in the eyes inner structures which makes the pupils look like inverted tear drops and in my daughter’s case goes all the way from her irises to her optic disks/nerves). I had to wait another three days or so before we saw our family doctor who apologized on behalf of the abx-obsessed doctor we saw and confirmed my suspicions and got us on the path to early intervention and a consultation with a pediatric ophthalmologist right away. Sorry for the novel, but mine is an example of a doctor being so hung up on routine care that she either missed or deliberately ignored (how could she miss massive iris malformations eith am ophthalmoscope?!) my daughter’s issues.”
“With my first baby I knew nothing about the real risks/benefits to common newborn procedures. Late in my pregnancy I began to learn about the benefits of an unmedicated birth so I focused on that education (and achieved my goal thanks to HypnoBirthing) and simply accepted whatever newborn care things were suggested to me. I now regret this and feel not enough time is spent educating parents so they can make truly informed decisions. It didn’t affect my baby negatively, however I know now that it was completely unnecessary for him.”
“We declined eye ointment, among other typical newborn procedures, without any questions or issue from hospital staff. It was discussed with my OB prior, written in my birth plan, and verbally confirmed at birth and our wishes were respected. No issues or complications because of our choice (just beautifully clear eyes and engagement from the moment he was born!!).”
“I declined the ointment for both my daughter and then, 2 years later, for my son. After my daughter birth, I was told by the nurse that she would have to notify the CPS if we declined the ointment. Someone came in to see us the next day, but they were satisfied with a quick chat with my partner. After my son’s birth, we declined the ointment and again, we were told we would be reported to CPS. The next day, we had a visit from a CPS person. She asked me and my partner several questions before asking my partner to leave the room. She then asked me if I was being physically or emotionally abused. She was really nice about it and actually mentioned that she doesn’t think this is the best use of her time. While I appreciate the effort to identify survivors of domestic abuse, it felt very overwhelming to go through an interview like this in less than 24 hours after birth, when I felt emotionally vulnerable and wanted to bond with my newborn baby and my partner.
Interestingly, on our discharge paperwork we also got marked “declined circumcision”, as if that was a “no-no”, too.
I have to make a correction – I double checked and the eye ointment is a thing in Poland, too, though it’s usually in from of drops.”