Monday, May 08, 2006

Co-sleeping with your baby

Sleeping with a newborn baby, or co-sleeping, is natural in some countries. For example, I am from Guatemala. There, every mother shares her bed with her infants. This might be because of a lack of living space or because family integration is a priority. The majority of the population in Guatemala is poor, which forces some parents to share rooms and many times beds with their children. But usually wealthy families also practice co-sleeping with their babies, which indicates that in Guatemala, the culture emphasizes a particular kind of closeness in families and less of an emphasis on fostering independence so early in a child's life. My mother, for example, had seven children and she shared the bed with each one of them. Consequently, for me sleeping with my own infant has been natural. Last year, when my daughter was born, I was surprised when my husband was upset because I wanted to sleep with my baby, in my bed. I did not understand that for people from the United States sharing the bed with their babies is rare. Some of their worries are sudden infant death syndrome and there is a cultural emphasis on raising independent and self-reliant kids. In Any case, according to some studies co-sleeping reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and promotes brestfeeding which is beneficial for infant health in adition the baby feels close to her mother.

One of the objections to sleeping with your baby is that SIDS is a threat for babies who share the bed with their parents. But some evidence show that co-sleeping might reduce this risk of SIDS because the mother's breathing and movements help regulate the breathing of babies who might be vulnerable to SIDS. "Conference supports the idea that human infants rely on the closeness of their mother to help them regulate their breathing and heart rate."(2)

Studies show also that breastfeeding is even easier and babies breastfeed for a period of time three times longer than babies that do not share the bed with their mothers. (1) This is beneficial because breasfeeding provides antibodies that protect the babies from risks such as being vulnerable to infectious diseases. Some of these illness are potential related to SIDS. One study found that co-sleeping might be one of the reasons that babies of Mexican-born mothers who live in California are at lower risk of SIDS than white mothers' babies "(.8/1000live birth) [versus] (1/1000)(1). " This might be because latin population are more likely to share the bed with their babies.

Another advantage of co-sleeping is that it in many cases, it results in greater closeness between mother and infant, and a feeling of security for the infant, because of the immediate availability of milk and love. ""[Co-sleeping] is convenient for some parents, especially nursing mothers, and babies feel safe and loved when they are close to parents."(3)

Sharing abed is for parents that are healhty and willing to share their bed with their babies. There some excepcions for example if the parents are alcoholic bedsharing is not recommeded.
Summarizing the benefits of bedsharing I can say that if co-sleeping increases breastfeeding, and breastfeeding decreases SIDS, SIDS is decreased by co-sleeping.

(1) James, Mckenna.,(1997)Bedsharing promotes breastfeeding. ediatrics Vol. 100
(2) Carolyn, Shannon (2003) Conference session with Jay Gordon, MD
(3) (1998) Sleeping with your baby.University of Minnesota.


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