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Three in a bed

02 November 2014
Volume 22 · Issue 11


Student midwife Paulina Sporek discusses her views on bed sharing

Three days after my child was born, we were transferred to the baby unit. My child was poorly and I was uncertain what was going to happen. During that time, every cell in my body was telling me to keep him close to me. I knew, while poorly, the best place for him is next to me, even during the night. Bed sharing in a hospital? Not easy. Paediatricians and nursing staff constantly warned us of the dangers of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other risks related to co-sleeping. But why should I deny myself to sleep with my child when all my maternal instincts were screaming for it? Yet hospital policy dictated that he spend most of his hours tucked up in a plastic cot.

Where did babies sleep 100 000 years ago? No doubt they slept with their mother in order to survive—with close physical contact, she could provide the infant with needed warmth, nutrition and protection. In fact, babies have been sharing their mother's sleep space throughout time and continue to do so in many Western countries despite the controversy and opposition from medical authorities. From a study of 27 societies, it was found that in 24 of the cultures, many infants slept with the mother—only three did not bed-share (McKenna, 1986).

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