Eye drops or ointment containing an antibiotic medication are placed in a newborn's eyes after birth. This is required by law, in the majority of states, to protect the baby from an unknown gonorrhea infection in the mother's body. Antibiotics are used in most hospitals. Another preparation, called silver nitrate, is sometimes used.
The ointment or drops may cause a baby's eyes to appear cloudy and some newborns' eyes may become very irritated with redness or swelling. This is a temporary condition and the medication should not be washed or cleaned out of the eyes.
Vitamin K is an essential component of blood clotting produced by intestinal bacteria. Newborn babies normally have low levels of this vitamin until several days after birth, when the bacterial levels in the intestines become adequate. To prevent a serious problem called vitamin K deficiency bleeding, also known as hemorrhagic disease of the newborn, most babies receive an injection of vitamin K in the upper thigh. This may be momentarily painful to the baby, but it does not seem to cause babies any pain afterward.