HALO® is proud to partner with First Candle, the national non-profit organization committed to ending SIDS, while providing bereavement support to families who have experienced the loss of their baby. We’re sharing this guest blog post written by Alison Jacobson, CEO of this incredible organization, who is also a SIDS mom, having lost her precious son Conner in 1997. We hope you’ll find Alison’s message a powerful reminder of the importance of making every sleep a safe one.
Guest Blog Post by Alison Jacobson, First Candle CEO
There’s no doubt, being a new parent is exhausting. People think they know how hard it’s going to be but until you’re into your third week of sleep deprivation with 2A feedings, you truly don’t understand.
Alison Jacobson, First Candle CEO
I remember when I had my babies. Having someone watch them and give me an hour to take a nap was the best gift I could ask for. Now, because of COVID and social distancing, many new parents aren’t afforded that luxury. Our neighbors just had a baby and they have a toddler as well. Yesterday we saw the dad walking with both kids and the dog. He had the “new parent glaze” about him and he told us his wife had said not to come back for 30 minutes so she could sleep.
It’s hard to envision the day when you’ll once again get a solid 7 or 8 hours of sleep and that’s one of the first questions family and strangers will ask - whether your baby is sleeping through the night or is a “good sleeper". The reality is babies aren’t supposed to sleep through the night for the first three or four months. They need to eat at least once but possibly twice throughout the night.
Without a doubt exhaustion is the hardest parts of being a new parent. And, when you have one or more older kids that keep you busy throughout the day you’ll do just about anything to get some rest. Oftentimes that means having baby in bed with you. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, nearly 80% of babies end up in the parent’s bed at some point during the night.
It’s certainly understandable. It’s cozy having baby in bed and easy to fall asleep while breastfeeding. Or laying on the couch with your baby on your stomach napping just for a few minutes. Unfortunately, this is also risky. All of these things can lead to Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) which includes accidental suffocation. As per the American Academy of Pediatrics safe sleep recommendations, babies should be on their back, on a firm flat surface by themselves with no blanket, stuffed animals or loose clothing for every sleep. It’s also recommended that baby sleep in the same room with parents but not the same bed for at least the first six months. These recommendations can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and prevent accidental suffocation.
Recently First Candle conducted a series of focus groups with moms and dads. While all of them knew that bed sharing was risky they admitted they did so anyway. The reasons they gave were they felt baby was safer and cozier. Parents also mistakenly believed that by placing pillows around the baby in bed they were protecting her from being rolled upon. The reality is that the pillows themselves are just as dangerous and potentially fatal. They also felt that while accidental suffocation in bed and SIDS were a possibility, it wouldn’t happen to them.
This wasn’t surprising. Unfortunately for many parents in our bereavement support groups their baby had been in bed with them or they had fallen asleep while nursing before putting baby back in the crib or bassinet. In fact, according to a study by the Journal of Perinatology, 79% of babies who died from accidental suffocation and SIDS were found somewhere other than their own crib or in a crib that was not bare.
Every parent intends to keep their baby as safe as possible, but exhaustion is overwhelming. That’s why we tell parents to have a safe sleep plan in place. This can include having your partner take the baby once you’ve nursed so that you can sleep or setting an alarm that will wake you in case you fall asleep while nursing. It’s also not advised to nurse in a rocker or couch in the middle of the night as there’s a greater possibility of falling asleep and baby rolling off or into the couch cushions.
Being a parent is exhausting and getting through those first few months is not easy. But planning ahead for safe sleep can make the difference between life and death.
For more information or to make a donation to First Candle, visit firstcandle.org