Borchardt Consulting

It’s Not THAT Dangerous

Posted on: July 8, 2012

I was reading an article from Australia where a coroner was making an impassioned  plea for parents to stop bed sharing with their infants.  This coroner had handled a number of recent infant deaths.  In all his cases the infants had been sleeping in the same bed with the parents on the night that the baby died.  The coroner ruled these deaths accidental suffocation.  He was pleading with the parents in Australia to stop putting their infants, especially those less than 6 months old in the adult bed with the parents.  His recommendation was to place the baby in a crib near the parent’s bed so that the baby could still be easily tended but keep baby in his or her own safe sleep space.

Breastfeeding is Best for Baby

This article was quickly responded to by a group of breastfeeding advocates.  The argument made by the advocates was “It’s not THAT dangerous”.  Holy smokes!  My head almost blew off.  Really, it’s not THAT dangerous!  Is that the best argument that you can make in response to numerous babies dying?  How many babies have to die before it’s considered “that dangerous”?As a mother who successfully, exclusively breastfed 3 babies, I am strongly in favor of breastfeeding as the best food for baby.  As a working mother, I completely understand how exhausting and  challenging it can be to breastfeed.  It takes real commitment. There is no question that it’s hard work.  Rewarding, but hard work.  As a parent, I get to make all the decisions for my baby.  As a parent, my primary responsibility is to keep my baby safe.  All else is secondary.

How many babies have to die before breastfeeding advocates rate bed sharing as dangerous enough?  I have heard from many parents who have successfully raised their babies through infancy while sleeping together.  They say, “It’s not dangerous.  I did it and my children are fine.”  That makes you lucky.  Not right.  It feels like these parents believe that they are somehow better, smarter, richer….something more than those poor parents who had a baby die.  Those unfortunate parents must be overweight, drug addicted, alcoholics.  Something must be WRONG with them.

Is it possible that we are putting the comfort of the mother ahead of the health and safety of the baby?  Remember, this is not a situation where the consequences for being wrong are minor.  The consequences for being wrong is your babies life!  I cannot figure out why any parent would risk their infants life when there is an inexpensive, simple alternative – a crib in the parent’s bedroom.

There are some pediatricians and anthropologists who argue that bed sharing with your baby is essential to bonding.  Baby must be alive to bond.  They quote lots of statistics about how mothers and babies have slept together from millennium.  Mothers, you have to understand that sometimes through evolution some behaviors are no longer necessary.  We no longer sleep in caves where we have to use our bodies to provide heat for our babies and keep them safe from maurading animals.  Our beds are now soft surfaces filled with more soft items like pillows, duvets, comforters and pillow toppers and more.  Don’t let talk of “co-sleeping” confuse you into thinking that bed sharing is safe.  The research is clear that room sharing is safe.  Bed sharing is not.

There are many barriers for some mothers to surmount in order to successfully breastfeed.  Room sharing is not one of them.

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4 Responses to "It’s Not THAT Dangerous"

Pam! great article! Hope you are well….I am busy working with SIDS of PA and Cribs for Kids and get that response while presenting life saving education to families! How can people be so reckless? And they think they are beyond any danger and they are just deluding themselves. It can happen to anyone. Keep up the good work….from another old timer in the SIDS world…its been 30+ years for me. All the best to you!

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And, I also exclusively breastfed my four children without bedsharing…it can be done. It is putting your baby’s safety before your own comfort. We bond with our babies while we are awake and conscious! Not while asleep–that makes no sense. We will keep educating parents, grandparents, childcare providers and everyone who is interested in keeping babies safe! Let’s all keep working so that these totally preventable, tragic bed-sharing deaths will be eliminated.

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I am the grandparent of an infant who died while bedsharing… and I get furious when people have the “it’ll never happen to me” attitude because they “practice safe bed sharing”. There is no such thing… and I agree with you… a crib in the same room is so much safer. And the lucky ones have no idea they are lucky. Thank you for posting this.. I intend to share it!

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I am so sorry to hear of your grandchild’s death. Many parents who go to bed with the best of intentions (protecting their infant and keeping him/her close) simply do not understand that an infant does not have the ability to push away or move away from an obstruction. Further, with some professionals minsing terms like “Co-sleeping”, parents can have a difficult time knowing which “expert” to listen to.

I fully sympathize with parents whose babies die. They did not go to bed that night planning for such a horrific event. We can reduce the risk of an infant death in an adult bed with a non-smoking, breastfeeding mother. BUT, we cannot make it safe.

Thanks for commenting.

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