Thursday, May 24, 2007

Nice article on co-sleeping and breastfeeding: Response

Holly Johnson wrote a wonderful and balanced piece (excerpts below). The responses she received are not based on the same kind of careful research that went into the article.
These points may help defining some of the issues raised by her responders:
1. Babies generally sleep next to the mother, away from the father.
2. Most babies have an alternative sleeping place (floor on a mat, for example) when the parents have other activities to attend to.
3. Babies do respond very well, from the start, when they are disturbed. The mother is aware of the baby's movement. However, if a parent is impaired by drugs or alcohol, all bets are off, and the baby should not co-sleep.
4. Studies show that a baby that sleeps away from parents is breastfed less often at night. This can have varying results.
5. Bottom line - in the US, we have moved far away from optimal parenting due to social and economic pressures. We do our best. Be kind to each other and to yourselves. We are all trying to cope.

Thanks to all who care about mothers and children.
05/24/2007 10:59:04

Excerpts from 05/23/2007: There are benefits to sharing a bed with your infant. So why don’t we hear about it? By Holly A. Johnson For The Journal Times

Is your baby sleeping through the night? If you’re a parent, you have undoubtedly been asked this question. According to Dr. Jennifer Thomas, a pediatrician at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare All Saints, the question of whether your baby sleeps through the night is “a value judgment of parenting.” You have a good baby if she sleeps through the night and a bad baby is he doesn’t, Thomas said. It didn’t become “normal” for a baby to sleep through the night until the 1950s, according to Dr. James McKenna, an anthropologist and director of the University of Notre Dame Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab, when bottle-feeding with formula exceeded breast-feeding in popularity.

Lack of bed sharing information: Hospitals usually don’t give information on safe bed sharing. … Polls have found that up to half of parents bring their infants into bed with them for all or part of the night.

What is co-sleeping? Not all organizations and health-care professionals are working from the same definition of co-sleeping and bed sharing. According to McKenna, co-sleeping is the infant and caregiver sleeping within sensory range of each other. “So, room sharing is a form of co-sleeping,” he said. Bed sharing means that the infant sleeps in the adult bed with at least one parent.

Bed sharing and breast-feeding Bed sharing can be a boon to breast-feeding mothers, allowing mothers to respond more quickly to baby’s distress. And, even though breast-fed babies tend to wake more often during the night, the quantity of sleep is comparable to bottle-feeding (and non-bed sharing) parents because both infant and mother returned to sleep more quickly. The increased sensitivity of breast-feeding mothers also seems to prevent them from injuring the infant during sleep.

Bottle-feeding and baby’s sleep McKenna said he found differences between bottle- and breast-feeding families when it came to the sensitivity and positioning of mothers with their infants. Therefore, for bottle-feeding families, “sleeping is best alongside the bed, not in the bed,” said McKenna. Co-sleeping furniture may be a viable alternative to bed sharing, but none has been tested by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Anti-bed sharing The AAP discourages bed sharing, noting that it “is more hazardous than the infant sleeping on a separate sleep surface.” Some physicians think the AAP (and several SIDS prevention groups) have gone too far in discouraging bed sharing. Japan has a very low incidence of SIDS, and they sleep with their babies, said Thomas. “So, the problem is not just bed sharing.” When deaths occur in a bed the whole practice is condemned, Thomas said. “We never say that about a crib.”