"The first week of life with your newborn baby is so precious, but it's also a particularly vulnerable time for moms and babies," says Alisha Bowling, BSN, RN, who is women and newborn nurse manager at Intermountain Riverton Hospital.
"New moms are tired and still recovering from childbirth, yet they want to bond with their baby and somehow get enough sleep," she adds. New parents quickly realize how dependent their baby is. They need to be held and fed, plus diapered, bathed. and dressed. They need their parents close by yet they're so fragile.
"Many new parents wonder if their newborn should sleep with mom or in their own crib," she says.
In response to these concerns, Intermountain Healthcare recently implemented a new safe sleep initiative at all of its hospitals to teach new parents safe sleeping habits at the hospital. The initiative is designed to keep babies safe once they get home and help prevent Sudden Unexpected Postnatal Collapse (SUPC), which is when an otherwise healthy infant dies within the first week of life. SUPC is a little different than Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which typically occurs in the first year of life.
The SUPC prevention initiative aims to empower new parents with the knowledge to practice safe newborn sleeping habits and feeding at home and increase their awareness of baby's feeding and sleeping cues.
How to ensure safe positioning during skin-to-skin contact
"Skin-to-skin contact is encouraged to promote bonding between mom and baby. But parents and hospital staff need to help ensure safe positioning during skin-to-skin contact," says Bowling. Intermountain caregivers in the women and newborn nursing units help prevent SUPC by doing frequent rounding to ensure moms and babies are in safe sleeping and eating positions, which include:
- Making sure baby's mouth and nose are visible during skin-to-skin contact
- Making sure baby's neck isn't bent while they're sleeping or eating
- Never bed-share with a newborn. At Intermountain hospitals, moms are reminded not to sleep with their baby in their arms and let nurses know when they're sleepy or feeding their baby
9 Steps to Safe Infant Sleep
- Always put your baby to sleep on his back until he can roll over.
- Never bed-share with a newborn. Baby should sleep in her own crib in the same room as parents for the first six months - but never in the same bed as mom or dad. If mom is sleepy, put the baby in a bassinet or crib.
- Crib mattresses should be firm and cribs shouldn't contain soft objects and loose bedding.
- Car seats or swings aren't recommended for routine sleep.
- Don't overdress a baby who's going to sleep; instead, dress the baby as you'd dress yourself for bed.
- Breastfeeding and expressed milk is highly recommended.
- Sleeping with a pacifier is ok. If you're breastfeeding, delay pacifier use for one month.
- Never smoke, drink, or use drugs around an infant.
- Stay up to date on baby's immunizations and check-ups.
Preventing SUPC in car seats
When baby is in their car seat, only use inserts made by the car seat manufacturer to provide neck support for newborns. Don't use blankets or other items.
Risk factors for SUPC
Here are some common risk factors for SUPC - which is increasing in prevalence:
- First child
- Bed-sharing with infants and parents
- Baby sleeping on her belly while the mom or partner sleeps on their back with skin-to-skin contact
- Sleepy or distracted mom due to childbirth, medication, or electronics