The study was funded by The Manitoba Institute of Child Health in 2005. They distributed 1,100 questionnaires to every mom who gave birth within the month. Almost 330 new moms responded.
The majority of respondents agreed co-sleeping is risky, 72 per cent admitted to doing it.
Fifteen per cent of mothers who shared beds with their newborn said they woke up to find the baby crying because they had rolled on it during the night; the baby was completely covered by blankets; or something was obstructing the baby’s breathing.
“I was surprised it was that high,” said Dr. Christine Ateah, dean of the university’s faculty of nursing and the study’s principal investigator. “One person said she had her hand partially covering the baby’s face.”
The Canadian Pediatric Society warns parents against bed sharing, especially in the first year of a baby’s life, because of the risk of rolling onto the infant, causing injury and suffocation.
Few statistics are available on how many newborns may be affected, but it is believed to contribute to some unexplained infant deaths every year.
However, a movement called “attachment parenting” suggests the best way for a newborn to bond with its mother is by sharing a bed.
Sharon Young said the reality is most women share a bed with their baby but are reluctant to talk about it since it’s so controversial.
Young counsels mothers on co-sleeping safety and said she believes the number of women who co-sleep with their newborn is much higher than the 72 per cent quoted in the study.
Young said women like to bring their newborn into bed since it makes nighttime feeding easier and allows them to bond with their baby.
She said women can bed share safely by putting a firm mattress on the floor, using fitted sheets, mesh guardrails, and ensuring there are no crevices the baby could slip into.
I can see how this happens. New moms, who are tired will sleep with their babies out of convenience. Especially, if you are breastfeeding.
The best thing to do is have a bassinet or playpen in your room to put the baby in during the night. This will prevent you from having to travel back and forth to the nursery in the middle of the night. The baby will be close – but not in your bed.