Postpartum Doula Training: Safe Newborn Sleep

baby newborn sleep postpartum doula Jul 27, 2021

Co-sleeping, Bed-sharing or Separate Room?

Of course, sleep is one of the most sought after things after a baby appears on the scene. Parents have many questions and concerns around this.

​Questions most new parents ask are:

  1. Will I get any sleep?
  2. Where will my baby sleep?
  3. Is it safe for my baby to sleep with me?
  4. Is it okay for my baby to sleep in another room?

Postpartum doulas can offer solutions to sleep deprived parents in the early days and weeks.

You can tell your clients, "Yes, you will get sleep, and it will not look the same as it did before you had your baby. Baby’s sleep is very different than adult sleep.  "

Where a baby sleeps becomes a bit more complicated in the sense that there are many options. The main considerations are safety, peace of mind and getting the most sleep possible.

Many parents co-sleep. They choose a bassinet or co-sleeper near their bed, where they can see and hear their baby. This allows for quicker response time to the baby’s needs, and less fuss and movement in the middle of the night. Be sure that whatever the baby is sleeping in has been inspected and passes all safety guidelines. Be careful with used items that may not meet these standards.

Some parents choose bed-sharing, where their baby sleeps with them in their bed. Now, I know what you could be thinking. “This is dangerous, and I have heard of babies suffocating and getting rolled on.” Those things have happened, sadly. And, there are ways to create a safe sleep environment where the risks of infant death are greatly reduced.

Bed-sharing guidelines

There are safe bed-sharing guidelines. Some of those are: baby sleeps on a firm surface, no pillows, sheets, and blankets in the way, no water beds, adults are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and mother is exclusively breastfeeding. You will find the comprehensive guidelines here.

It is common and normal to bed share or co-sleep in many other cultures aside from the USA. Although, many USA parents sleep with their babies and do not admit to it for fear of ridicule or shaming. There are several great resources for you to check out to support parents in choosing what they want to do. 

James McKenna, University of Notre Dame Behavioral Sleep Laboratory is a great one. And then there is the Infant Sleep Information Source (ISIS).

Lastly, some parents choose to have their baby sleep in another room. Many experts do not recommend this, as babies thrive close to their mother’s heartbeat and breathing rhythms.

Although we have baby monitors, it isn’t the same as parents being near their baby. They can hear their baby but their baby can't hear them.

Remember that safe sleeping guidelines still apply to cribs; no bumpers, stuffed animals, pillows, or fluffy oversized blankets. And there are specific guidelines about mattresses and the width of crib rails. This is especially important with a used crib or mattress.

In my years as a postpartum doula, I have seen every which way for getting the most sleep for everyone. It is a matter of choice, and my role is to support the choice, and provide information when necessary. It is also my job to speak up if I feel there is a safety concern.


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