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29th Aug 2018

Study finds link between breastfeeding and bed-sharing


A study has found that mothers who bed-share with their babies tend to breastfeed for longer than the first six months.

Researchers at Durham University spoke to over 600 pregnant women about their views on breastfeeding, bed-sharing and the fear of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The women they submitted reports documenting their bed-sharing and breastfeeding habits for the first 26 weeks of their babies’ lives.

The results showed that almost half of the women either “rarely” or “never” bed-shared (defined as at least one hour per week) whilst 28 per cent did so “intermittently” and a further 28 per cent “never” did it.

Those who did were also found to breastfeed past the six-month milestone, prompting Professor Helen Ball of the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab in the Department of Anthropology to say that information needs to be provided to this group.

“In this paper we show that mothers with the strongest intent to breastfeed are the ones who sleep with their babies the most. These mothers therefore need information on how to make bed sharing while breastfeeding as safe as possible,” she explained.

“Women with strong motivation to breastfeed frequently bed-share. Given the complex relationship between bed-sharing and SIDS appropriate guidance, balancing risk minimisation with support for breastfeeding mothers is crucial.”

The NHS recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months however it is a personal choice for every mother as to whether they breastfeed and for how long.