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Midwife and OB/GYN recommendations for parent-infant cosleeping

26 July 2013


This dissertation aims to provide information about the medical recommendations of birthing professionals (OB/GYNs and Midwives) on cosleeping. For the purposes of this abstract, “cosleeping” is defined as a child sleeping in the same bed as an adult within arm’s reach. A comprehensive literature review of cosleeping leaves many questions unanswered.

Proponents of cosleeping assert that there is research demonstrating support for the benefits of cosleeping. The Attachment (or Natural) Parenting point of view suggests children need skin-to-skin contact throughout the night in order to properly develop attachment and closeness with their mothers. An anthropological perspective illuminates related species’ cosleeping patterns and claims cosleeping to be natural for humans in order to enhance closeness and safety.

The opposing side believes that cosleeping may be detrimental. Proponents of this perspective assert that cosleeping has shown to be associated with a higher risk of Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUIDs). They state that when children sleep in bed with an adult they are at risk of suffocation, entrapment, overlaying, and rebreathing carbon dioxide. Researchers from this perspective suggest that cosleeping may be stressful because cosleeping infants show greater arousals during the night, less deep sleep, and are believed to experience interruptions in their neurological development. The medical community traditionally offers mixed recommendations. Many parents acknowledge utilizing the recommendations of their pediatrician or midwife. In this study, it was found that Midwives are more likely to cosleeping at any age than are OB/GYNs. For children in the age range of 0-6 weeks, 94% of midwives sampled recommended cosleeping. This is significantly different from the 26.7% of OB/GYNs who recommended it. Thus, parents are likely hearing mixed messages about infant sleep practices.


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