Safer sleep for you + your baby

Safer sleep for you + your baby

Posted by Renata Lardelli on

The challenge to getting a good night’s sleep is especially hard for pregnant women. In the book Sleeping Better in Pregnancy which is based on the latest research from Massey University’s Sleep/Wake Research Centre why sleep is important is discussed, how sleep works, and the different lifestyle and physical changes during pregnancy that can affect your sleep. It also provides practical strategies to help you get the best sleep possible in each trimester - yes please! I've read this book and I particularly like the 'Toolkit for sleep in pregnancy' chapter that give suggestions to form ideas and strategies you can choose from and experiment with. Be open to trying some out because without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds!

In my role as a midwife sleep is one of the most asked about and most fretted topics. There is no denying that newborn sleep equates to a lot less than you’ll be used to but somehow we adjust to very broken and very small amounts of sleep - we’re super human! Distinguishing between tired and hungry can be confusing when you’re a new parent, in the beginning tired and hungry can kinda look the same but some typical tired signs are; grizzling, jerking arms & legs, wriggling, making fists & looking away from you. Overtired signs are crying, yawning & eye rubbing

It wasn't’ that many moons ago that babies were slept on their tummies, I was one of those babies [so actually it was many moons ago]. Babies sleeping on their front sometimes seem to sleep longer and deeper, their risk of SIDS is also much higher, probably for these same reasons. We now know that it is recommended babies are slept on their backs for every sleep. In New Zealand somewhere between 40 and 60 babies die of SUDI each year [sudden unexpected death of an infant] and what we know to be the main risk factors are smoking while pregnant, co-sleeping i an unsafe way and the position babies when they sleep. PEPE is an acronym used to keep babies safe while they sleep;

  • P - Place you baby in their own bed
  • E - Eliminate smoking in pregnancy
  • P - Position your baby flat on their back to sleep
  • E - Encourage and support breastfeeding
Here are some further ways you can ensure your baby’s bed is safe;
  • Make sure the mattress is firm, I know soft and fluffy looks and sounds delightful there is an increased risk that the airway will become compromised without a firm mattress⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Ensure that there is nothing in the bed that might cover your baby's face or that may obstruct their breathing. The teddies are very cute and the cot bumpers are fashionable but they pose a risk. Place the teddies at the foot of the bed & forgo the bumper⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • When you make the bed make it so your baby's feet will be at the bottom of the bed and so the blankets aren't loose - this is so they don't wriggle down and burrow themselves under the blankets

Sleep is complex and not one-size fits all, some will choose to co-sleep and others will fall asleep with their baby during the night when feeding, therefore it is important to consider how to bedshare safely. La Lache League outline a 'Safe Sleep Seven' noting that every situation is different, nothing in life is without risk and we all balance those risks and benefits differently to choose what is best for you and your family. If you meet the Safe Sleep Saben criteria then your baby's risk of SIDS is said to be vanishingly small. 

  1. No smoking
  2. Be sober and unimpaired
  3. Breastfeeding
  4. Healthy and full-term baby
  5. Baby on their back
  6. Lightly dressed, not swaddled and no covers
  7. A safe surface, firm mattress

For more about safe sleep in the first 6 weeks head to the Ministry of Health or Plunket


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