Both of my sisters as well as several cousins made the decision to breastfeed their children immediately after birth. This is generally accepted as one of the best feeding options because of the nutrients and natural immunities that breast milks gives infants. However, breastfeeding in some situations can also lead to serious consequences. Many mothers choose to breastfeed in bed, which can lead to bed sharing instead of putting an infant to sleep in their own crib.
While being relaxed and comfortable during breastfeeding can enable mothers to breastfeed for a longer time, bed sharing can lead to infant death. SIDS, also called crib death, is a major cause of death among babies under 1 year of age in high income countries. In fact, 81% of crib deaths among infants under 3 months old with no other risk factors could be prevented if only they didn’t sleep in the same bed as their parents.
The study conducted examined the record of 1,472 cases of crib death and also 4,679 control cases. Through an in depth analysis of the data, the research team found that the risk of SIDs among breastfed babies under 3 months was increased when they slept in the same bed as their parents, even if their parents didn’t smoke, drink, or do drugs.
Lead author on the study, Professor Bob Carpenter from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said that "If parents were made aware of the risks of sleeping with their baby, and room sharing was instead promoted in the same way that the 'Back to Sleep' campaign was promoted 20 years ago to advise parents to place their newborn infants to sleep on their backs, we could achieve a substantial reduction in cot death rates in the UK. Annually there are around 300 cot death cases in babies under a year old in the UK, and this advice could save the lives of up to 40% of those. Health professionals need to make a definite stand against all bed sharing, especially for babies under 3 months."
The study also says that it’s perfectly fine to breastfeed your child in bed and cuddle for comfort, just allow them to sleep in a crib once their finished until they’re at least 3 month or older.
- American Medical Association (AMA) (2013, September 23). Bedsharing associated with longer breastfeeding; study warns of bedsharing risk. ScienceDaily.
- London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (2013, May 20). Bed sharing leads to fivefold increase in risk of crib death for babies whose parents do not smoke. ScienceDaily.