“Wait, what is that?”
That’s what came out of my mouth, in a nicely polite voice.
In my head, I ninja-chopped the nurse’s hand, sending whatever she was trying to feed my 12-hour-old newborn flying across the room, and cried in my fiercest mama bear voice, “Don’t put anything in my baby’s mouth without my full and informed conseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeent!”
The nurse explained in a nonchalant voice, “Oh, it’s just sugar water. Research shows it helps manage the pain of the heel poke.”
“Oh, no, thank you,” I said.
Ninja-chopping in my head again.
Not 60 seconds before, the pediatrician giving Baby Jonathan a check-up had detailed some facts about the Vitamim K shot, including how K is created in our systems by the bacteria in our guts. He explained that newborns are born with zero gut bacteria, and over the first week of life, the gut is populated by the bacteria that will reside there as the child’s natural flora.
I thought, “Seems pretty important what Mom eats while breastfeeding. More yogurt!”
It makes absolutely no sense to me to give an 8-pound infant sugar, when he’s only getting a teaspoon or two per meal in colostrum. I’m all about helping my darling avoid pain, but to risk feeding the bad bacteria with sugar in a completely empty gut is a risk I’m not willing to take.
Besides that, John slept without a single peep through the entire heel-poke-squeezing-out-blood-for-two-full-minutes experience.
So I guess he didn’t really need the sugar water.
More ninja-chopping, just because it’s fun to visualize.
Why is White Sugar Bad for You, anyway?
Twelve hours later, I was ready to decline what I learned is called Sweet-Ease (which sounds just like “Sweeties,”) the routine administration of sucrose (white sugar) and water to my newborn when he had another heel poke.
It just goes to show that even when you have a pretty strict birth plan in place and think you’re ready for everything, you still should keep your newborn with you at all times and don’t be afraid to ask, “What is that?” if something is happening that you don’t understand.
I don’t want anything going into my newborn’s mouth or bloodstream without understanding exactly what it is and what it’s for.
Just keep the ninja chopping in your head, okay?
What do you think about this relatively new “routine?” Worth it, dangerous, or somewhere in between?
UPDATE: I can’t expect you to read through all the comments, but there’s some pretty wild discussion down there, from the folks who think I’m crazy to even question my child’s pain, plenty of agreement, a few that say I’m a mean person who would actually hit nurses, and then a nurse with 33 years’ experience who references an article that shows sugar doesn’t work and may cause damage. You should definitely read that one.
I’ve written a letter to our hospital questioning the procedure, or at least encouraging them to require parental consent, and I’m eagerly awaiting their reply.
See my full disclosure statement here.