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To think there should be more discussion of how to co-sleep safely?

22 replies

feilie · 26/01/2024 08:47

In recent years the authorities have done an excellent job in getting out the message that the safest way for babies to sleep is on their backs, alone, on a firm and uncluttered surface, and this must have saved lives. This message was delivered several times in appointments during pregnancy, in the talk we were given before leaving hospital, and again in the follow up visits/appointments, along with the message: "It is not safe to co-sleep with your baby".

But for some babies they just won't sleep that way. And if baby is not sleeping then most likely the main carer isn't either, which is unsafe for reasons that go way beyond sleep.

I had a baby that would not sleep on her back for the first six weeks or so. She would only sleep when being held. I asked the midwife and HV for advice on several occasions and was just told it was normal for her to want to be held in those early days and to ride it out. The sleep deprivation would be very painful but it wouldn't last forever. "Enjoy those baby snuggles!". But under no circumstances should we co-sleep

So as a somewhat panicked FTM I dutifully held my baby at all hours until someone else could relieve me of her. I didn't intentionally co-sleep - the professionals were saying how normal it was that baby needed to be held if not put down flat so why would we deviate from the official advice? But I of course couldn't keep it up and fell asleep holding her on more than one occasion. We were fortunate that she was fine but that was of course far less safe than if we'd planned to co-sleep. Meanwhile I was on my knees and could barely function in the days, let alone do my best at engaging and interacting with my baby.

With this in mind, I'm disappointed in today's article from the BBC: It effectively says co-sleeping was a factor in a number of baby deaths last year and so is to be avoided. No more nuanced than that. It gives the tragic story of a woman who lost her 7 week old baby with a warning against co-sleeping. But that happened after she fell asleep feeding her, not after she intentionally co-slept.

Can we not say that on their backs alone is the safest way, but if this really is not possible, here are some practical steps you can take to minimise the risk of accidentally co-sleeping with your baby?

Baby Fern died at just seven weeks old

Safety plea over co-sleeping baby deaths figures

A quarter of infant deaths in Scotland last year involved parents bedsharing with babies, the BBC learns.

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

26 votes. Final results.

You are being unreasonable
You are NOT being unreasonable
Merrow · 26/01/2024 08:59

I agree. I didn't realise how easy it would be to fall asleep breastfeeding before I breastfed. Luckily I had been on Mumsnet long enough that I knew there was guidance about how to co sleep as safely as possible and that was much, much better than falling asleep in an unsafe position.

KohlaParasaurus · 26/01/2024 09:08

We used to be given advice about reducing the risk of SIDS when co-sleeping when my DC were babies (the youngest is 25). Back to Sleep only hit the headlines after my oldest was born. It was all sensible advice about not letting the baby overheat and not co-sleeping on the sofa, if you'd been smoking or drinking, or if you were taking sedating medication. I gave the same advice for as long as I was involved with postnatal and neonatal care.

All of mine co-slept, sometimes more than one at a time.

RhodaDendron · 26/01/2024 09:09

Couldn’t agree more. I was hallucinating with sleep deprivation with my eldest. I wish I’d coslept with her from the start. There were a number of occasions where she and I were endangered by my level of fatigue,
not least when falling asleep unintentionally.

lioneggs · 26/01/2024 09:09

My HV and MW both talked to me about safe ways to co sleep even tho I said I wasn't planning on it they told me just in case

PralinaChocs · 26/01/2024 09:11

Absolutely agree OP

JamesPringle · 26/01/2024 09:15

lioneggs · 26/01/2024 09:09

My HV and MW both talked to me about safe ways to co sleep even tho I said I wasn't planning on it they told me just in case

Me too. Very very glad of my good HV, who explained the safety statistics about baby sleeping alone in cot vs. baby co-sleeping safely and following safety guidelines. Made me feel more confident and therefore everyone slept better.

NaturalStudy · 26/01/2024 09:15

The BBC article also ends by saying the baby in their story who died appeared to have some kind of health condition, so her death may have had nothing to do with co sleeping.

Absolutely agree that safe co sleeping needs to be discussed more. Safe co sleeping is infinitely safer than dangerously accidently falling asleep.

TotHappy · 26/01/2024 09:16

I absolutely agree. They did give advice with my second when I said I was planning to cosleep - they reiterated what I already knew - but that was because I'd researched it myself after falling asleep several times with my first while sitting up in bed feeding her. I remember crying and hallucinating and saying to my mum I feel so guilty falling asleep holding her but what can I do?! She won't lie down and mum took her and said this is ridiculous. She helped me but it would have been better not to get to that point. My baby survived my dropping off but what if she hadn't? It's haunting. That poor little baby in the news report. That poor, poor mum.

Allthingsdecember · 26/01/2024 09:17

I agree to a degree, if people choose to co sleep they should be given advice on how to make it as safe as possible. But I think it would be far more useful to highlight that sleepless nights are both parents responsibility.

I never had to co sleep because DH split the nights with me 50/50 (we even managed to have him put the baby on my boob when necessary). This didn’t stop when he went back to work because my ‘job’ of looking after the baby during the day was just, if not more, important than his. If this was the expectation no parents would be surviving on snatched bits of broken sleep.

ChaosAndCrumbs · 26/01/2024 09:18

Definitely agree. There needs to be a separation of data from intended co-sleeping that follows rules and unintentional falling asleep while holding a baby. To be fair, The Lullaby Trust has campaigned to increase knowledge of safer sleeping when co-sleeping and NCT covers it too. However, all HV and GPs should be able to give guidance on how to do it safely and further campaigning would be helpful.

Its probably worth mentioning I do also know people who don’t follow the guidance, even though they’re aware of it.

Beamur · 26/01/2024 09:19

A very practical midwife while I was in hospital just after giving birth, showed me how to safely co-sleep but wasn't actually supposed to...
Much better to safely co-sleep and feed lying down than fall asleep on the sofa/holding your baby.

pramhelpplease · 26/01/2024 09:23

I think the messaging has changed (in England) as this was my experience having my older children in 2013 and 2016 - the message then was don't co-sleep basically. However I had a baby boy in August 2023 and at all MW/HV appointments they discussed co-sleeping and before they discharged us from the hospital the midwife specifically gave safe co-sleeping guidelines. She said they used to tell people not to but they now realised that people were doing it anyway unsafely because they were so tired so explained how to do it properly, which I think is really useful.

PuttingDownRoots · 26/01/2024 09:24

That bbc article was bad. It made out it the cosleeping was bad... and glossed over the drugs, alcohol and health conditions that were also a factor in many of those 19 cases. (Just one line)

Cosleeping saved my sanity when mine were babies. Mothers need adequate sleep to function safely and look after their children. Falling asleep in dangerous places is a big risk too.

Babies can't read government guidelines and baby books.

RedPandaFluff · 26/01/2024 09:24

Absolutely agree. Older DD was great - happily slept in the Next2Me or Moses basket, transitioned to cot at six months easily. Second DD is the opposite - she's almost six months, EBF and will only sleep in my arms during the day or bed sharing at night. We sleep in the cuddle-curl position, she's in a sleeping bag and I'm in a fleecey onesie that unzips for feeding, so no blankets or duvets around her, and DH has decamped to the spare room so it's just us in the bed. It's the only way I can get through the nights with some sleep.

In the early days when she was smaller I'd wake up in a panic worried that I'd smothered her, but we were always still in the right position. Now that she's bigger it feels safer - and actually, I love it. It feels instinctively right and natural. Although I am a bit worried about how to get her into a cot in the next couple of months!

idontlikealdi · 26/01/2024 09:25

I was given lots of advice on safe co-sleeping, and that was in 2011.

Sparklesocks · 26/01/2024 09:27

Agreed - I remember when it came up in my NCT group we were very anxious about the prospect and all the mums said we wouldn’t do it, as the instructor didn’t so much focus on how to do it safely but more the risks and SIDS side (which is of course very important, but caused a lot of anxiety).

After a few months deep in the throes of sleep deprivation and fussy babies I think all of us did at some point, as it was often the only way to guarantee a few hours of sleep. I know firsthand how easy it is to be exhausted when they’re not going down at 4am and just pull the baby into bed with you - but knowing how to do it as safely as possible is so important. I think it’s advice that should be given to new mums even if they’re not planning on doing it, as there’s a chance they’ll change their minds.

ButItHasCheese · 26/01/2024 09:41

I believe in Japan it's the norm to co - sleep and they have one of the lowest SIDS rates in the world.

Agree there should be more info... my very helpful doula told me to 'plan to cosleep even if you don't' and it honestly saved my sanity

Mischance · 26/01/2024 10:13

I think that alongside this report of deaths, the NHS in Scotland does provide advice about how to make it as safe as possible - certainly that was what it said in the article I read.

Biffbaff · 26/01/2024 10:23

The Lullaby Trust now provides information on how to safely bedshare/cosleep with your baby.

I have done so with both of mine. My mum is always saying things like "make sure you don't roll on her!" - if you knew anything about bedsharing and the C position etc you'd know this is seriously unlikely if not impossible. Not to mention the fact my baby is very robust now, rolling and climbing up, and is more likely to roll on me!

I wish information about the benefits of it when done safely were wider known but that's the result of a very influential campaign against cot death in the 80s led by Anne Diamond - no doubt this saved lives and is overall commendable but it has made bedsharing a taboo subject/activity when I agree, there should be more nuance.

A good book about this subject is Three In A Bed by Deborah Jackson if anyone is interested. Goes into what is done in other cultures and the history of bedsharing etc

afkonholidaynearleek · 26/01/2024 10:25

When I have co-slept with my babies I have always had them high up the mattress, so my head is in line with their tummy/legs. There's less of a chance they'd roll onto their fronts due to the dip in the mattress under my body. We were close enough for me to hold them, and we'd both sleep. Much better for everybody.

TripleDaisySummer · 26/01/2024 10:39

Eldest is 18 and was a Velcro baby - screamed if not in contact with me outlasted everyone trying to get her to behave differently,

I was lucky MW and HV with first were practical and told us how to co-sleep safety. We moved just after second and when it came out we were co-sleeping all hell broke loose threats and dire predictions - so we did sensible thing and lied though our teeth and got on as before.

It was clearly safer to be laid down and co-sleep than fall asleep on chair or sofa breastfeeding. Also while not my preference co-sleeping did mean I got some sleep which I think helped my mental health - second lot of HV kept insisting I must have pnd number of times that had me fill out that same questionnaire I didn't but think I would have with less sleep.

I was on thread about difficult babies and many of us were told it was our parenting as babies aren't like that - so I suspect it's ideal situation assuming that all babies will cot sleep and that no-one falls asleep bf.

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