Further research into the incidences of cot death has shown that more than half occur when a baby is sleeping with a parent.
In recent years the advice given to new parents has been that the safest place for a newborn to sleep is in a cot beside the parent's bed. That was certainly what I was told when I had my baby, but I chose not to follow this advice. Why?
New parents have lots of decisions to make about how they raise their children, and as soon as you announce your pregnancy advice begins to pour in from all directions.
The suggestions handed out by old ladies at the bus stop, who swear by rubbing whisky into babies gums to treat teething or drinking a pint of Guinness a day when pregnant for the iron, can be happily ignored without too much deliberation.
But knowingly going against government guidelines supported by scientific research takes a lot more consideration. After all this is advice intended to protect your baby's life.
I bed-shared quite happily with my first two children and that decision was supported by my midwife. However, by the time I was pregnant with my third the policy had changed and I was repeatedly told that bed-sharing increased the risk of cot-death.
I'd found having my baby in bed with me made breastfeeding easier and gave both me and the baby much more sleep and space (owing to my strict baby in, husband out policy) so I was reluctant to give it up.
Looking further at the research I found that the risks of co-sleeping dramatically increased if the parent was a smoker or if drugs, drink or medication was a factor. By eliminating these factors, and never sleeping with a baby on a sofa or armchair, I felt I could accept the higher risk factors associated with co-sleeping.
Government guidelines are advice which parents are not compelled to take. Some of the recommendations we are bombarded with can seem patronising, contradictory or just following the latest 'fad' in childcare.
Scientific findings and expert opinions can't easily be dismissed either. It's no use taking the, "my dad slept in a drawer until he was four and it never did him any harm" approach to justify ignoring good advice. If you choose to follow your own instincts must do your research and be confident of your convictions.
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