Study links co-sleeping with length of time breastfeeding
If mothers co-sleep for at least an hour a week, the survey showed they were more likely to breastfeed past six months
Co-sleeping and breastfeeding
- Co-sleeping linked to longer breastfeeding
Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended by the NHS for the first six months of baby’s life, but a new study has shown that mothers are more likely to continue breastfeeding for longer if the baby is brought into the bed with the mother for feeding.
The study by Durham University found that mothers who shared their bed with their babies for at least an hour a week were more likely to continue breastfeeding past six months but mothers who go to their baby’s cot to breastfeed are more likely to give up before six months.
Despite the benefits for breastfeeding, there have been long-standing doubts over whether co-sleeping is completely safe.
The updated NICE guidance acknowledges that co-sleeping can be intentional or non-intentional. It advises midwives, health visitors and GPs to recognise this and discuss the issue with parents.
The breastfeeding study look at 678 women from midway through their pregnancy and the study was published in Acta Paediatrica.
The women were asked whether recommendations about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) to avoid bed-sharing with your baby due to concerns for baby’s safety would stop them from bed sharing that could help their breastfeeding goals.
The recommendation was that mothers should bed share with baby for at least an hour a week.
The Lullaby Trust’s Lucy Lyus, Research and Information Manager said in response to the study: “We recommend that women breastfeed their babies, if they can, as breastfeeding for any duration, whether exclusive or in combination with formula feeding, has been found to reduce the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
“There are also many other benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby. However, these benefits need to be carefully balanced with risks from breastfeeding practices such as bed sharing. “Parents should not bed share if either one smokes, has drunk alcohol or has taken drugs. Bed sharing should also not take place if a baby was of low birth-weight or was born prematurely. Sofas or armchairs should never be shared with a baby for sleep. These recommendations form part of the national guidelines all health professionals receive for speaking to parents about bed sharing.
Lucy continued: “We understand that bed sharing with babies does happen, and can be for deliberate reasons such as facilitating breastfeeding, or it can be accidental. The main thing is that parents are aware of the benefits and risks and can make informed decisions that are right for their families. Therefore we support research that aims to understand bed sharing behaviour, but to reduce the chance of SIDS the safest place for a baby to sleep remains its own cot or Moses basket, in the same room as parents for the first six months.“