Safe sleep for your newborn baby is a significant topic to understand. This is very easy to digest guideline for new parents to refer to as needed.
Keep in mind as a labor nurse I know the statistics, and I also realize many people tend to dismiss them as a low chance of happening to them. However, I am sure there are mourning families who wish they had paid more attention to the discharge instructions given regarding safe sleep for newborns.
Why I am here and who I am:
Hey mama, I am Trish— AKA Labor Nurse Mama. I am a labor and delivery nurse with over 15 years of high-risk OB experience. I am also a mama to 7 kids and have given birth to 6. This means I am quite familiar with the postpartum period and how to navigate it. I am the online birth class educator for Calm Labor Confident Birth and The VBAC Lab birth classes and the mama expert inside our Calm Mama Society a pregnancy & postpartum membership community! I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey! You can find me over on IG teaching over 230k mamas daily. I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey!
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I also have to mention that I am a co-sleeper advocate, so there is also that. I would not be one, if I were a heavy sleeper or if I did not have a king size bed with space to keep a distance from my husband who is, in fact, a heavy sleeper.
If you want to learn more and how you can stand up for your rights during labor and delivery, then join the waitlist for my next live Birth Rights webinar.
Before we start I want you to check out this all too familiar feeling fears of a new mom and her baby sleeping.
Let's dive into my tips for safe sleep for your newborn baby!
Photo by Kelly Sikkema
Always Put Baby on Their Back
In 1992, the AAP released a safe sleep guideline saying that babies should be placed on their backs to sleep. The percentage of newborns dying from SIDS has decreased significantly after the initiation of sleep guidelines. There are many theories as to why back sleeping reduces the risk of SIDS, but one thing is obvious. The rate of SIDS has drastically decreased in all countries that have initiated a safe sleep campaign that includes back sleeping.
Why is it safer?
Babies who sleep on their stomachs and sides sleep heavier than a back sleeper. Yes, I know this is why we as parents prefer it to back sleeping. But there lies part of the problem. A baby on her stomach is less likely to startle awake, but also more likely to experience a sudden decrease in her blood pressure and heart rate. Sleeping on the stomach also leads to long stretches of deep sleep. This is good but very bad, as they are more likely to re-breath their exhaled breath and the chance of carbon dioxide building up in their little system is high. Carbon dioxide will then squeeze out the oxygen. Not good!
Sleeping on the stomach is also known to compress your baby's trachea leading to upper airway obstruction. Again, Bad!
Another study also showed a correlation between back sleeping and decreased ear infections, fevers, and stuffy noses.
Once your little one is rolling back to front and vice versa, it's ok to leave them however they land.
Finally, I know you are tired. I know you slept for 2 hours because your back sleeper doesn't sleep well. But I want to reiterate. Momma's who have had to bury their baby who succumbed to SIDS would prefer sleep deprivation.
The Golden Hour after Birth and Why You Should Protect it at all Costs
Babies Should Sleep in a Crib
First, I slept with my babies, so it's ironic that I am telling you this. But honestly, it is safer. Having mentioned this, I have slept with six out of my seven babies. They slept in the crook of my arm, on their backs.
The rule of thumb from most of the experts for safe sleep for your newborn is that you should share a room, not a bed.
Tell my four-year-old this, and you might get slapped.
Nothing in the Crib/Bassinet
Girl, there is nothing I like better than decorations. A little lamb or llama in the corner of the crib, a nice handcrafted swaddle draped, or a cute small vintage baby pillow looks pretty dang stylish. But the truth of the matter is that anything in the crib is a potential hazard for the baby.
Babies and adults are different. A pillow can block a baby’s nose and mouth and can cause a baby to suffocate. On average, there are 32 infant deaths a year on pillows used as mattresses or to prop babies’ heads. The majority of these deaths involve infants in their first three months of life. ~https://onsafety.cpsc.gov/
Consequently, nothing in the crib also includes wedges and other positioning devices.
Momma, I know you want your baby snuggly warm. Opt for sleeper sacks and footie pajamas before using a cute blanket that you bought from Habibi House Shop. (I'm a Homegood's addict, it's true!)
Ten Newborn Baby Care tips for the First time Mom!
Tip: Nothing in the crib, includes means no crib bumpers!
Photo by Kelly Sikkema
Be Picky About The Crib Mattress
Two baby items you should not go used or cheap are car seats and crib mattresses.
The rule of thumb for buying a crib matter and promoting safe sleep for your newborn is to remember that a mattress that is too soft can conform to the baby, and up the risk of suffocation and SIDS. When choosing the mattress, choose one made with a more substantial and more costly cushioning, which will be in turn firmer and longer lasting.
When purchasing a crib mattress keep in mind that it should fit snugly into the crib. No gaps which can increase risks to your baby.
The following crib mattresses are safe choices for crib mattress in 2019.
Keep Baby from Overheating
I jokingly refer to my kids as heating pads. Seriously, they are the sweatiest, hot little things ever when they sleep. SO this has never been an issue. I was never able to dress them in a cute little sleeper at night. But if you are overdressing your baby, keep in mind that overheating is also a potential SIDS risk.
If you are worried about them being too cold at night, take my word for it, overheating is worse. Keep the room temp between 67-72 degrees year round.
Did you know that parents who smoke increase the risk of their child dying from SIDS?
Secondhand smoke increases the risk for SIDS. Smoking by women during pregnancy increases the risk for SIDS. ... Infants who die from SIDS have higher concentrations of nicotine in their lungs and higher levels of cotinine (a biological marker for secondhand smoke exposure) than infants who die from other causes.~ Center For Disease Control (CDC)
Smoking is terrible on all fronts, now quit!
Side note/Lecture: One of my first overwhelming memories of working as a CNA during nursing school was when I was on an oncology floor. I walked by a room and saw a young man sitting up in his bed. I first noticed the smell. It was horrible. The cancer was eating up from his lungs, up his trachea and his whole left cheek eaten away. He was dying from lung cancer caused by second-hand smoke. He was 21-year-old. His parents had smoked over top him, his entire life.
This group, board, and guidance have been absolutely invaluable.
I was extremely comfortable asking questions, making decisions and even though nothing went according to my "plan", I couldn't be any happier with the way everything went!!!
- Stacy A.
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