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Melanie Jackson is mother of two, Midwife in private practice, PhD graduate, part-time blogger, obsessed veggie patch owner and even more obsessed crocheter

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Word on Co-sleeping

There were angry and joyous mothers alike when the story broke in the 'Daily Telegraph' that co-sleeping was actually protective against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). (See link below for full story)


After reading the article I remembered where I had heard this information before- an essay I did about breastfeeding in 2008 which spoke about the protective aspects of co-sleeping against SIDS and also the benefits of activities that promote closeness between mum and baby.

Co sleeping is thought to regulate the babies heart and breathing rate and babies who co-sleep with their mothers are more likely to be successfully breastfed which reduces the risk of the baby dying of SIDS. There are safe and unsafe ways to co-sleep. If parents have been drinking, using medications which cause drowsiness, use strong perfumes or chemicals on their person, sleep in a waterbed or very soft surface, are very obese or have been using illicit drugs then co-sleeping is not recommended.

this is a snippet out of my essay for your enjoyment:

‘A study by McCoy, Hunt, Lesko, Vezina, Corwin, Willinger, Hoffman & Mitchell (2004) found a strong relationship between bed-sharing and breastfeeding and found that it facilitated breastfeeding by providing closer contact between mother and infant and therefore greater opportunity to breastfeed. While there is a fear that co-sleeping increases the risk of SIDS, this is a contentious issue as literature also exists that gives weight to the argument that co-sleeping actually reduces the risk of SIDS when practiced appropriately (Buswell & Spatz, 2007, p.23; Naish & Roberts, 2002, p.56). The idea that co-sleeping encourages breastfeeding should be adapted and the hospital should encourage mothers to maintain closeness between themselves and their babies as much as possible to assist them with breastfeeding.

Another practice which promotes closeness, instinctual behaviour, breastfeeding and bonding, is the use of a carry pouch or sling. Mothers who carry their babies in a sling, close to them throughout the day are much more in tune with their babies eating and sleeping rhythms which allows them to breastfeeding more effectively and they have more settled babies (ACNM, 2007, p.644, Lennart, 2008, p.2; Naish & Roberts, 2002, p.44). Encouraging the use of a sling to encourage closeness and breastfeeding can be an effective way of settling babies throughout the day and assisting the mother to be more aware of his feeding needs (Feldman, 2004, p.150; karl, 2004, p.292; Moore, Anderson & Bergman, 2007, p.2; Naish & Roberts, 2002, p.36). Skin-to-skin contact is an important part of the instinctive process of breastfeeding for both mother and baby (http;//www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/bla.html).

Allowing mother and babies to live in close proximity by encouraging co-sleeping, baby-wearing and skin to skin contact can facilitate breastfeeding by promoting baby-led attachment. This method of encouraging attachment involves placing the baby on the mother chest and allowing the baby to discover the nipple and attach themselves with minimal support from the mother (Lennart, 2008, p.1; Naish & Roberts, 2002, p.3). The baby follows a pattern of instinctive behaviours to get to the breast (http://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/bla.html). Infant-led attachment almost always lends to correct attachment to the nipple due to it being less forced and hurried; the baby attaches in its own time (Naish & Roberts, 2002, p.36). This form of attachment is only successful provided the mother and baby are healthy and allowed sufficient skin-to-skin contact following a birth that has not been interrupted. The baby must be allowed to go through its pre-feeding rituals of licking, smelling, touching and mouthing the breast before attaching to get acquainted with the nipple (Lennart, 2008, p.1; Naish & Roberts, 2002, p.36)’

In my searching I also came across an interesting blog post on the topic at :


For more information on co-sleeping some helpful books are:

'Three in a Bed: the benefits of sleeping with your baby' By Deborah Jackson

'The Attachment Parenting Book' by Dr Sears

Love Mel xo

For information on Melanie and The Ella May Centre go to www.ellamaycentre.com