Co-Sleeping Stirs Controversy

A startling co-sleeping ad stirs nationwide debate.

Would you let your baby sleep with a knife? The city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Health Department thinks that if you co-sleep with your baby, it’s just as dangerous.

At least that’s the impression the city is implying in a recent public service announcement that shows an infant sleeping in an adult bed with a butcher knife nearby. Accompanying the photo is the tagline: “Your baby sleeping with you can be just as dangerous.’’

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee commissioner of health, Bevan Baker, introduced the anti-co-sleeping campaign by stating, “Is it shocking? Is it provocative? Yes. But what is even more shocking and provocative is that 30 developed and underdeveloped countries have better [infant death] rates than Milwaukee.”

According to the news outlet, “Milwaukee's infant mortality rate in 2009 was 10.4 deaths for every 1,000 live births, according to the health department. For white babies, it was 5.4. The rate for black babies was nearly three times as high: 14.1.’’

The very popular Dr. Sears web site offers tips on how to co-sleep safely here. But the Milwaukee ad riled up many co-sleeping parents that it didn't take long for a Facebook page called the Campaign Against Milwaukee’s Co-Sleeping Campaign to be birthed. 

What do you think of this campaign and this issue? Smyrna-Vinings Patch asked Gwynne Knap, Lumina Birth’s post partum doula, her thoughts of the matter. The next “Meet the Doulas’’ event will be held Wednesday night at Bellyhaven in Vinings Jubilee beginning at 7:30 p.m.

As a postpartum doula and mother of grown children, I encourage my clients who are inquiring about co-sleeping to consider it if they feel inclined,’’ said Knap, a CAPPA Certified Postpartum Doula, Childbirth Educator and Labor Doula. “Especially if a new mom is breastfeeding; she particularly is "in tune" with her baby's needs for nourishment and comfort. A breastfeeding mother has extra hormones surging through her system that make her extra vigilant to respond to baby's sleep/wakeful cycles. If the mom is not under the influence of any alcohol or pain medications, she will respond with protective positioning of her body in regards to her newborn.

"I often suggest tired, sleep-deprived new mamas to use a side-lying position to nurse their newborns, which allows them to lightly doze while the baby nurses. A co-sleeper perhaps offers the best of both worlds - baby sleeps within close range of mom, but is able to be "scooped up" or gently returned to bed without mom having to get up out of bed. Many newborns rest better when they sense mom is nearby. New moms often rest better hearing baby sleep nearby during those early weeks of baby's life."


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