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Safe co-sleeping and breastfeeding

Safe co-sleeping and breastfeeding

How should I sleep with my baby? Frequent questions about co-sleeping and bed-sharing

A lot of our users have asked us about babies and sleep, and to no surprise, nights, co-sleeping and breastfeeding are two of the issues that most concern families with children until 3 years old.

 

So today we will talk about co-sleeping and bed-sharing. This is a surprisingly controversial topic in Western culture, both for families and the scientific community, despite the fact that major health organizations such as WHO and UNICEF recommend and promote the benefits of co-sleeping. In addition, they help to maintain breastfeeding because it allows mothers to rest more and maintain their milk production thanks to nighttime feedings.

But one thing is to talk about co-sleeping and bed-sharing in general and another thing is to talk about all the doubts that arise when we put them into practice. So we are going to try to reassure you about all of these doubts, or at least those that concern you the most.

Are there different ways of co-sleeping and bed-sharing?

The term “co-sleeping” means to sleep in close proximity to your baby, but not necessarily in the same bed, and “bed-sharing” is to share the same bed.

 

This is an important distinction because we often think we either have to sleep in the same bed or we have to leave the baby in a separate cot or crib, and often none of these options are convincing for mothers. The first one doesn’t convince us because we are afraid to crush or hit the baby and the second one isn’t because we don’t want a barrier between us, or we are uncomfortable having to get up for each feeding.

The option of attaching a bed or cot to our mattress (with the correct safety measures) is an intermediate option that families choose, especially in the first few weeks.

I have heard that for the first 3 months bed-sharing it is not safe, is it true?

There is a lot of debate, discussion and contradictions among the scientific community about this stage. The evidence is not clear. Some studies point to more risk, others point to information bias and systematic errors in previous evidence.

There is no clear evidence. What is unanimous is that from 0 to 3 months, co-sleeping with a side sleeping crib is safe and beneficial.

Dad wants to sleep with the baby, is it safe?

Evidence tells us that breastfeeding protects against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), that co-sleeping and bed-sharing help to maintain breastfeeding and that the safest thing for the first 3 months is sleeping with a side sleeping cot. So our recommendation is that during these first three months the mother is the person who must sleep with the baby next to the side sleeping crib. From there, and respecting the rules for safe co-sleeping and bed-sharing, sharing a bed with your baby should not be unsafe.

My family and friends insist that if I sleep with the baby, he’ll be attached to my breast all night and I won’t get any rest.

Babies don’t wake up because of the breast, they wake up because their sleep structure is very different from ours. The phrase “sleeps like a baby” is not very accurate, the truth is that it is very common for babies to wake up at night many months beyond their birth because of a maturity factor. Breastfeeding is an excellent way to help them fall back asleep, for both the child and for us mothers.
In fact, there is a study that states that mothers who breastfeed their babies sleep 45 minutes more at night than those who bottle-feed.

What are the guidelines for safe co-sleeping and safe bed-sharing?

  • The baby should sleep on their back, never on their side or on their front.
  • The mattress should be flat and firm. Do not use water or air mattresses.
  • Do NOT sleep on a sofa.
  • Make sure your baby cannot fall out of bed or can not be trapped in a hole.
  • Avoid the use of pillows, furry blankets, quilts, cushions, anti-tip pillows, stuffed animals, etc…
  • Check that nothing can cover the baby’s head.
  • Avoid overdressing or underdressing the baby.
  • Do not sleep in the same bed if you are a smoker or if your partner is a smoker.
  • Never smoke in the bedroom.
  • Do not sleep with the baby if you have used alcohol, drugs, sleeping pills, or medication that alters your level of consciousness and your ability to react.
  • Don’t share a bed if you have a condition that decreases your level of response, such as diabetes or unstable epilepsy.
  • Do not sleep in the same bed if you are very tired or if someone has a fever.
  • Do not allow pets to share a bed with the baby.

Also, remember:

-There is a higher incidence of SIDS in premature or underweight babies (sharing a bed).

-Breastfeeding is a protective factor for SIDS

You can find us in the Consultation Channel of the LactApp app, which is free to download for iPhone and Android and there is an entire section on sleep and breastfeeding.

You will find also find further information here:

https://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/evidence_ten_step_spa.pdf
https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2018/08/Caring-for-your-baby-at-night-web.pdf
https://www.mendeley.com/catalogue/breastfeeding-increases-sleep-duration-new-parents/
https://www.lshtm.ac.uk/newsevents/news/2013/cot_death_risk.html
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0378378294902119?via%3Dihub 
https://www.mendeley.com/catalogue/breastfeeding-bedsharing-infant-sleep/
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