***Please share this post wide and far. The information put forth in this post can have wide reach. We need our society and our doctors to understand this information.***
from James McKenna, expert on bedsharing. Biological anthropologist and someone I look up to. A LOT.
“There is no such thing as infant sleep, there is no such thing as breastfeeding. There is only breastsleeping.” – James McKenna and Lee Gettler
You can’t study normal infant sleep without reference to breastfeeding. (edit from me: this is why it’s so much more than good weight gain in babies – how that breastfeeding occurs can fundamentally affect the whole family). Regardless of the AAP’s attempts at eradicating bedsharing, humans want to bedshare with newborns. It will just go underground.
For species such as primates, the mother IS the environment (Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, 1999). Human babies are born with only 25% of their ultimate brain volume. Human infant (parental) social care is synonymous with physiologic regulation. Everything for the baby is adapted and regulated to its parents’ bodies.
“Cosleeping” either same surface or separate surface. And the way nighttime contact and proximity changes infant and maternal behavior, sleep-wake architecture, milk production and metabolism, feeding frequency, and mother’s hormonal status.
The Blair study in 2014 shows that bedsharing is safe in the absence of alcohol/smoking/drug using, or if the infant is pre-term, or if the parent is sofa-sharing. Outside of those factors, bedsharing is safe. The AAP has put themselves and parents in an untenable situation: they argue against the safety of bedsharing but supposedly want breastfeeding to succeed. The AAP completely ignores the importance of bedsharing in making breastfeeding successful. This is why many parents will lie to their pediatricians about if they’re bedsharing. This perpetuates the myth to the pediatrician – parents should tell their doctors that bedsharing is working.
The discord about bedsharing comes about because the initial research on the topic was done under the assumption of arbitrary factors about infant sleep quality. They assume that infants sleeping on their own is the norm (“Does your baby sleep through the night yet?”) so anything that argues against the baby sleeping alone is arbitrarily “bad”.
“Sleep like a baby”, if accurate, would be WAKE-EAT-SLEEP-WAKE-EAT-SLEEP all night long. Not sleeping like an adult through the night.
77% of American moms initiate breastfeeding. Of those, 70-80% are known to at least intermittently bedshare.
Tiffany Field (1987) did a great study where babies who had 15 minutes of massage per day gained weight 47% faster, were more alert, left the hospital earlier. Touch stimulates the vagus nerve (to stimulate the GI tract making digestion more efficient). It facilitates endorphin release, reducing stress.
Social and cultural instructions in our past that *caused* SIDS: prone sleeping, don’t breastfeed and get the baby in their own room. Now, we are trying to fight our way back to safer sleep principles. Breastfeeding matters in all areas of infant mortality especially affecting African Americans. Breastfed infants are 80% less like to die in the first year of life (even when controlled for low birth weight).