Co-bedding or co-sleeping is the practice of a mother sleeping with an infant from birth to 24 months. It is widely accepted that parents from all walks of life will sleep beside a young child at some point during the first two years, but in some cases, mothers choose co-bedding from day one. There is a connection between co-bedding and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), but this connection does not deter some mothers from sharing a bed with an infant. While most developing nations practice co-bedding exclusively, the practice is not unheard of in developed nations like the United States.
Researchers believe information on co-bedding and potential threats associated with the practice are not being passed from some medical providers to new mothers; particularly midwives. Cassia Drever-Smith, an honors student at the UQ School of Nursing and Midwifery noticed a lack of important research information or educational information on the topic of co-bedding. According to the student, women learning the art of midwifery are not given adequate information about the threats of co-bedding. Thus, midwives don’t pass on information to patients.
Drever-Smith calls for specific guidelines and educational materials discussing the benefits and potential risks of co-bedding. She further states that hospitals should have this information available for new mothers and midwives. Information available to midwives needs to be based on evidence gathers in clinical studies. Regular reviews of co-bedding information must be upheld to ensure the information being passed on to new mothers is up-to-date.
The need for midwife education is linked to a lack of education available to new mothers. Typically, new mothers learn skills from their mothers. Co-bedding may be a family tradition or it may be a topic never discussed between a mother and child. Midwives are typically the first people to introduce the concept of co-bedding and thus they are the first line of defense against SIDS and other potential risks.
Source: University of Queensland. Cassia Drever-Smith. 20 July, 2011.