This story is flying around the internet and those who have a stake in wanting sharing a bed with your baby to be be illegal are having a field day. I have no facts about this suggestion, but I do not think it illogical to connect manufacturers of cribs, bottles and any other apparatus that separates us from our babies to supporting this goal.
And any circumstance that can be twisted to play on the fears of a new parents is used to do so. Including this one, in my opinion. Because I am not a researcher, I am not going to share any sort of opinion on whether or not co-sleeping is to blame. I am going to direct you to these resources to show you why it is not (see bottom).
What I am here to remind everyone of today is that this picture that you are seeing of a mother who appears to be smiling has just lost her second baby. None of us know the circumstances and it is possible that she has entered a psychotic episode, is on significant medication or is not even smiling at all but was caught in the middle of talking or about to break down in deep heaving sobs.
I have received several e mails over my time blogging from mothers who have lost children from SIDS (diagnosis by a coroner) and then brought their subsequent children into bed with them to make sure their child’s breathing pattern and temperature was sustained by their own body (a biological and experiential fact). I have received communications from mothers who have lost children to death directly related to cribs and “cry it out”.
So today I want to take an opportunity to remind people that sharing a bed with your baby is safe when practiced properly. Mostly though I want to remind you that the woman you see above is a mother who has lost two children. It is likely that she was trying to do whatever she could to keep her second child safe. We all know that far too often individuals are used as examples.
And so today I ask; for once can we err on the side of the mother? Can we look at that picture and try to imagine her profound sense of loss? Can we turn this around from blame and shame to recognizing that we need to start supporting new families?
We will not find out that co-sleeping caused this death. We might find out that unsafe co-sleeping (such as the medications) that may have been involved but not sharing a bed. And then who is to blame?
I say it is us. For not better educating new parents about how to safely co-sleep. For not supporting a new family enough with paternity leave and resources to focus only on their child. For expecting that within days we should be fully functioning and productive again, as though we have not just brought a new life into our world. For demanding that we return to work at an optimal time for bonding and child development.
Instead of choosing to villanize this mother, I suggest that we use it as a call for action to start prioritizing motherhood. And fatherhood. Never at this mother’s expense. Because in doing this we might start to see that the picture above is likely of a mom who is unsure that she can go on, and what if our support changes everything?
Bedsharing and Co-Sleeping Resources
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