The most natural way to space babies is the one designed by God since the beginning of the human race. Natural baby spacing is achieved by a natural form of mothering we call ecological breastfeeding according to the Seven Standards, maternal behaviors that foster frequent suckling. One of these maternal behaviors associated with a lengthy amenorrhea is bed-sharing where the mother sleeps with her baby and nurses the baby while doing so.
Some parents are afraid they will harm their baby if the breastfeeding mother sleeps with her baby. I know because I was once one of those mothers! What does the research show? As breastfeeding advocate Linda J. Smith (MPH, FACCE, IBCLC, FILCA) has stated on many occasions: “The sober, non-smoking, breastfeeding mother on a safe surface is NOT a risk to her baby.”
La Leche League International recently made a similar claim in their online New Beginnings, Issue 3, 2014: If you follow LLL”s Safe Sleep Seven guidelines, “meeting all seven means that your baby’s risk of SIDS when he’s sleeping next to you in your bed is no greater than when he’s alone in a crib.”
The seven guidelines are these: 1) No smoking, 2) sober parents, 3) breastfeeding mother day and night, 4) healthy full-term baby, 5) baby on back [this usually happens automatically when baby breastfeeds], 6) no sweat and no swaddling, and 7) safe surface.
The main benefit to sleeping with your baby during the night is that it is one job you can do in your sleep and this means the mother is usually well-rested in the morning.
At NFPI’s website, on the home page, scroll down on the left side and click “links.” At links, you will find all kinds of information on what constitutes a safe surface and how to bed-share safely. More information on safe sleep is also available in The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor (e-book or print).
Remember Linda Smith’s words: “The sober, non-smoking, breastfeeding mother on a safe surface is NOT a risk to her baby.”
More on this topic next week.