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Ep. 118 – Bedsharing & Breast Sleeping Part 2

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This is Maureen Farrell and Heather ONeal and this is The Milk Minute. We’re midwives and lactation professionals bringing you the most up-to-date evidence for all things lactation. So you can feel more confident about feeding your baby, body positivity, relationships, and mental health. Plus, we laugh a little or a lot along the way.

So join us for another episode. Welcome, welcome. Heidi, ho folks. Anyway, welcome back to part two of bed sharing, breastfeeding, whatever we’re calling this one. We’re gonna get practical and tangible today. Yes. We’re gonna talk a little bit more about what are the actual risks of bed sharing and how do we mitigate them?

And if you’re coming in on part two and have not listened to part one, please know that we spend most of part one trying to take the stigma away. Yes. And explain to you that you might be bed sharing, even if you don’t think you’re bed sharing. Yes. So please go back and listen to that judgment free and then come back to part two for some actual tips.

Yes. And content warning upfront, because we are talking about the risk of infant death. We talk about infant death in a general conceptual way in this episode. Not in a detailed way. No. So if that’s not your bags, you’ll see you next week. Anyway, before we begin, let’s like do a question and thank patrons, right?

Yes. Why don’t we thank patrons first? We’ll switch it up. Okay, well, I’m gonna give a big heartfelt thank you to Elizabeth from Minnesota and Jacqueline from New York. Ooh. Ooh, thanks everybody. All right. Today’s question is from one of our lovely patrons, Stephanie Landis. Stephanie says, what are some ways to safely co sleep?

I did this with my first while I was nursing her seven years ago, but then it was hard to break the habit for her and she had trouble falling asleep at her own bed until she was six. I’m also anxious about SIDS, but breast sleeping was like survival mode for me, especially during the cluster feeds and returning to work.

Yes, yes. Totally hear this. I don’t know how much of this we can answer up front cuz it’s the whole episode. Well, you’re a person that has a six year old who currently sometimes sleeps in your bed. So yes, I can address this part. The way that kind of transitioned from constant co-sleeping to like sleeping solo with my son was first during nap times.

And I started that pretty early cuz he was a good napper. So I set up his own sleeping space and he would nap there. And we did that for months before I actually tried any overnights there. And then I started having my husband put him to sleep in his own bed. And I was like, I took a really laid back approach to it.

I was like, you know what? If he wakes up and he wants to come back to bed fine, that’s fine. I don’t mind. But you know, if he sleeps an hour in his own bed, that’s an hour more than he did yesterday. And we did that and honestly, like he started just sleeping longer and better on his own without us in the bed with him too.

And then eventually I had my husband take over the night wakings too when I was like, I can’t nurse this child at night ever again, deal with it. And you know, the, the reality is he still wakes up at night. But we’ve worked on him, essentially self-soothing, right. And somehow over the past couple years at this point, like he really like only comes to my bed probably as often as other six year olds do where it’s like, oh, every once in a while, he’s like I had a nightmare or you know, I had to poop and I needed help with it or whatever.

Whatever children do at 2:00 AM. Nose bleeds. Yeah. It’s anyway, but most of the time now he goes to bed on his own. He wakes up a lot so we have an audio book player, and I’m like, Hey buddy, like if you wake up and you feel lonely, just turn your audio book back on.

It’s on a sleep timer automatically. Like, you know, he knows. He knows he can do that. I take a really laid back approach to all bed things with him, cuz he has such a hard time sleeping. So I’m like, look, if you can’t sleep and you need to play in your bed, that’s fine. If you come get me, you’re in the biggest trouble of your life.

I don’t care what you do behind that door. Because for the past year you’ve been nursing a new baby. Yes. Who’s not a new baby anymore. She’s one. I know she’s. And some change. She’s starting to walk. Oh my God. That’s crazy. It is. But yeah, it’s definitely, probably not recommended to have your older child in bed with your newborn, because that does increase the risk of SIDS.

So mom and dad alone is safer than anyone other than mom and dad, which we do cover in part one of the episodes. Yeah. And I’ve definitely had a couple nights, he slept with me in bed with the baby and it was like, I just didn’t sleep very much. And that was a disaster. So I try to avoid that at all costs and I’ve made that really clear.

And I think that’s working pretty well for us right now. Mm-hmm and this is where partners step up or should. Yeah. And if that means like his dad sleeps in bed with him sometimes, I think that’s okay. I don’t, I don’t think we need to expect that children do things that we don’t expect ourselves to do.

Right. Like, I mean, I actually prefer sleeping alone. My husband doesn’t. You know, mine too. Anytime he’s gone. I’m like, God, I slept amazing. And anytime I’m gone, he’s like, I couldn’t sleep at all without you here. And I’m like, seriously? Yeah. I mostly don’t sleep with my partner and he is still adjusting to it, but I’m a much happier human that way.

Mm-hmm well, my son said to me one time, it’s just not fair. You get a sleeping buddy and I don’t. Yeah. And I was like, maybe he and Cash should sleep together? No, they, we just tried that. We went on vacation and, you know, there were two queen beds in the hotel room. Mm-hmm and Theo just kicks the absolute crap outta you all night.

We tried to put the two kids together. Yeah. You know, Heidi’s three. So she’s like out of the SIDS phase for sure and Theo actually kicked her out of bed. Ah, and she hit the floor and that was like a whole thing. And all night I heard Theo! Theo! And so then my husband slept with him. He got kicked and Heidi wallers me.

She turns sideways and like, oh, why did they turn sideways? Lyra does that too. And I’m just like, I like, we’re like literally if I sleep with her, we’re in a king bed, just the two of us and she still gets her feet in my face. Also when my husband and I first got together, we, we traveled and Theo was gonna sleep in a twin bed by himself.

And we were in the queen next to him and I said, he’s gonna fall outta bed. And he’s like, nuh he’s like, he will not. And I said, I’m telling you, he’s gonna fall out bed. He’s like, we’re monkeys. You know, like monkeys slept in trees and stuff. Like there’s no chance he falls out. Two hours later and there he is on the floor and my husband was like, god you were right. 

And I said, I know they just, my kids do not. Yeah. My kids are faller outta bedders. Do you? For sure. I walked in to check. I walked in the other night to turn off Griffin’s audiobook cause I forgot to put the sleep timer on and he, he, so I put him to sleep the normal way you do in bed with your head at one side and the pillows and whatever. I come in; he is upside down.

His head is like an inch from the floor. He’s dangling off his bed and you know the edge of the bed, is like two inches above his waist and then his lower half, he shoved into a pillowcase with a pillow. Oh my God. And I would just look at him and I was like, I don’t, what? Get it together. You guys, there’s a better way.

He has a, he has a short queen that he sleeps in. It is ample room. That’s insane. To not be sleeping with two thirds of your body out of the bed. Kids drive me crazy; you know. Like I love kids, but the, this extreme adult side of me is like so annoyed by stuff like that. Where I’m like, why do you make it so hard? Just sleep up and down. I don’t know why I bother putting a bed in his room, like, I should have just put a mattress, like a futon mattress on the floor, honestly, because he sleeps on the floor half the time happily.

Well, I’m sure he’ll do it in college. Every other guy who doesn’t use a top sheet and just has a mattress on the floor. A naked mattress. Oh, gross. I don’t know what is up with college dudes and that. Well, how many times did you go over somebody’s room in college and you like thought you were gonna have a good time and you were like, actually I have to go to the bathroom and you don’t come back cuz their room is so gross. 

Yeah. Oh you’re like, oh Scarface poster? Check. Yeah, never mind. Un-sheeted mattress on the floor. Oh man. My roommate called me and something’s on fire. I have to go. Yeah. Like you don’t even feel safe urinating in their bathroom. You’re like, Ugh. Well, I’ll see you later. That guy’s a finance guy now at oh, absolutely on wall street. You’re like who takes care of you? Caveman. All right.

You guys, Breastfeeding for Busy Moms, my little breastfeeding clinic, isn’t so little anymore. I’m so excited that not only can people book with you in person here or virtually, but they can book with the other IBCLCs in your clinic. We also do accept some insurance directly. A lot of insurance will actually pre-approve you for a certain amount of visits, even prenatally.

So please head on over to and check out the services tab to see if your insurance is approved. Book with me or one of my IBCLCs and we would love to work with you. You can do prenatal consults. What else can they do, Heather? Well, I often work with people who have supply issues.

We’ve got pumping troubleshooting. We’ve got preparing to go back to work, weaning, starting solids. We really cover the entire journey. So if you’re struggling, stop struggling and just schedule with me or somebody on my team at Dot com.

So let’s get into the Safe Sleep Seven from Le Leche League. Okay. Which this is in response to realizing that not having the conversation about safe sleep with babies is useless. Right? The abstinence way is not actually helpful for people because then they don’t have a way to safely do it when it does happen.

Yes. And it is recognizing that the actual increase in infant death risk for co-sleeping or bed sharing is from suffocation and accidental strangulation. And so the safe sleep seven is an effort to mitigate and reduce that risk. And personally, I think that every single parent should make their bed a safe sleep space even if they have their baby sleep in a crib. 

Mm-hmm, just in case. Because most bed sharing happens accidentally in this country. Most pregnancies also happen accidentally in this country. Why don’t we, abstinence just doesn’t work you guys. Yes. Okay. So let’s, let’s do them. 

Number one, you do not smoke. And I am fairly sure when this was made, they meant cigarettes. I do not know if they include marijuana in this category. Right. And I think generally just, I, I would assume that the risk increases, if you smoke in the home. Yes. And so if you’re like, well already, I’m out. I’m a smoker. 

That doesn’t mean necessarily that you absolutely can’t bed share. But it means you have to understand that that’s a risk factor and that you should figure out some ways to mitigate that risk further.

Right. But it’s, you know, that’s when you understand, like, okay, like that’s one safety point that we’re not managing to meet. Right. And I would assume, you know, the risk increases if you smoked in pregnancy. Yes. And if you smoke in the home and if you smoke in the bed, yes. So you know, it’s just gonna go up and up and up.

We talk a lot about that in our tobacco episode, right? Just about how like second and thirdhand exposure increased the risk of infant death and all that. Mm-hmm. 

Well, same with number two. Yep. Sober and un-impaired. And we talk about that in our alcohol episode, which we will link in the show notes.

Yeah. And you know, the, again, this doesn’t mean you can never drink but it does mean like, Hey, if you are planning a night on the town, perhaps, you know make some other sleeping arrangements for your baby for that evening. Right. Or understand that that’s increasing the risk, you know. The, the highest incidence of parents rolling onto their kids and suffocating them is parents who are not sober.

Yeah. Number three is a breastfeeding parent and your baby is healthy and full term. Mm-hmm. On their back. Mm-hmm. Lightly dressed. Mm-hmm. And you both are on a safe surface. Yes. Those are kind of all lumped together in a weird sentence. Anyway, yeah, that’s actually number three through seven. Yes. 

So breastfeeding is three. 

Healthy and full term is number four. 

On their back is number five. 

Lightly dressed is number six.

And you’re both on a safe surface number seven. 

Yeah. So let’s kind of pick those apart a little bit, right. Breastfeeding itself creates a safer sleep environment. Why? So there was finally some research on this in the nineties. The first guy to research this was McKenna and he actually brought lactating parents in with their babies to do a sleep study in the lab, which was really cool, had not been done before. 

And he found essentially most of his participants assumed what we consider the breast sleeping position, the C position around their babies, where their legs are tucked up in front of them. They’re on their side facing their baby. They have one arm out above their baby’s head.

Their baby is at breast level. And you know, essentially this is a protective position, right? Because your legs in front of you prevent you from rolling forward. Your baby at your chest. And he noted that a lot of the infants moved less than infants who were not breastfeeding and bed sharing. And they gravitated toward the breast, which made them go away from pillows, which were at the head of the bed.

That arm up at shoulder height, prevents babies from migrating up toward pillows. Right. So all in all, this was a more protective position against suffocation or strangulation. We also know that compared with breastfeeding infants who sleep alone, breastfeeding infants who bed share, spend less time in deep sleep and more time in lighter sleep, facilitating the rapid infant waking and termination of apnea.

So just in general, we have this, what am I gonna call it? Synergy. Between lactation and bed sharing. And there was some more research that was done around this that there’s a great NPR article that summarizes it, that we will link if you guys wanna read it. It is pretty funny when you don’t tell someone what to do and you just watch them naturally do it.

And then all of us do that one C shape position. And, you know, I mentioned in the previous episode that I thought I didn’t bed share, but I actually did. And what I was doing was napping. So I was napping in bed with my daughter, but not fully under the covers. And, and during the daytime. During the daytime, it’s, it’s just a nap, but it was a honey of a nap.

Let me tell you, I take comas. Better than night’s sleep. Yeah. Way better, like hours long. And I would have like, just a blanket on me and we slept so well. Mm-hmm. But no, no, that wasn’t bed sharing for me. That’s napping. That doesn’t count. Right. And that’s bed sharing. Right. And a lot of people do that. And also, like that’s not as demonized for some reason.

Like you’re somehow more cognizant sleeping in the day than you are at night. Like that’s silly. That’s awesome. Okay, so let’s go to number four, healthy and full term. Yeah. So, I mean, if you’re a pre-term baby, your brain is premature also. Yes. So you’re having, and also there’s like six different levels of sleep for babies whereas adults only have three. 

So, you know, when you’re premature, that’s gonna be even more primal and less developed. And the chances that they wake up from their own arousal patterns are decreased, you know? Right. And, you know, possibly then their ability to physically move away from obstructions if they do happen to roll into something.

Yeah. Weaker muscle tone. Right, exactly. For sure. And also their diaphragms aren’t as strong so there is a theory that they don’t exhale forcefully enough and they just gently exhale and the CO2 kind of hangs out in front of their face. That re-breathing thing. And so they end up having too much CO2, which actually decreases their drive to breathe in their brain.

And so, you know, that’s why they do recommend sometimes putting a fan in the room to kind of circulate the air a little bit more or getting one of those clip on fans onto even the crib, but not blowing it at the baby, just like near the baby. Oh, interesting. To circulate the air. And also it kind of vibrates the crib a little bit.

So right. If you’re a little paranoid about it, you could add in a nice little fan, if you want. Number five is on their back. So, you know, in general, the risk of SIDS is lower if baby sleeps on their back, but also if baby sleeps on their back, they’re less likely to suffocate in the mattress because adult mattresses are not made with infants breathing into them in mind. 

Yeah. Cave people did not have memory foam. Right. And, you know, we were cave people a lot longer than we were these people, and we were most likely just sleeping on the hard ground. Right. And frankly, this is one of my bigger concerns with bed sharing is a lot of adult mattresses are just too soft to be a safe sleep space for baby, especially if they’re soft enough that you make a significant indent with your body so that baby like rolls into you. 

Or if they do roll on their tummy, that they’re not able to breathe. So it’s something to consider that if you are like, I picked out the squishiest princess bed that like may be not the best place to sleep with your baby. Do you have an alternative place? Like, can you get a different mattress? Is that possible? Should you crib sleep? You know, it’s a dynamic to consider. Well, so let’s talk about lightly dressed. So the last one lightly dressed, cuz we talked about safe surface.

Yes. It’s interesting that when a baby gets overheated, that kind of shuts their brain arousal centered down. Humans in general have healthier sleep in colder environments. I’ve heard that many places, many different arenas too. Yeah. We have more healthy, normal sleep cycles. And you know, so that makes some sense to me.

But babies also have a hard time just regulating their body temperature. So you want it to be an appropriate temperature. You also want them lightly dressed in a way that they’re not gonna be strangled by their own clothes. No hoodies, no loose shirts so that if they wiggle it comes up around their neck.

No bibs. Right? Why? Yeah. Don’t sleep in an adorable little hanky that’s tied around their neck, like a cowboy baby. Yeah. And you know, right now there’s a trend of like the snug fit sleepers that are safer cuz you know, they can’t catch on fire or something. And like apparently if there’s less air between like baby and the outfit, they’re less flammable and they’re less like prone to strangling baby or whatever, which is great.

Except for babies who are built like mine. Who looks like a pack of King’s Hawaiian rolls. And I get the snug fit sleepers for her. And if they fit her, they’re like eight inches too long. And the last time I tried to zip her up one, I was, it was like trying to put a busted can of biscuits, like back in.

Oh, that’s normal. It was like, just squeeze in, hold your breath. Suck it in, Lyra. Yeah. Anyway but lightly dressed. You basically want like one layer, one piece of clothing on them. If you need extra layers, a sleep sack, not a loose blanket. And this is also why the recommendation is to no longer swaddle a baby once they can roll.

Yes. Because you want them to be able to get themselves out of that situation. Yes. Yes. So swaddling is okay in those first couple weeks before they can roll. Let me quote the La Leche League here to summarize their recommendations cuz this was like their innovation. And this is like continuing from a larger quote, so, sorry. 

Anyway, so they’re saying if you use the Safe Sleep Seven quote, then your baby in bed with you is at no greater risk for SIDS than if he’s in a nearby crib. The safe surface checklist explains number seven and practically eliminates breathing risks, no matter where he sleeps. Rolling over on your baby is virtually impossible because you have the cuddle curl and responsiveness of a breastfeeding mother.

By the time the baby is about four months old research indicates that bed sharing with a healthy baby by any responsible, non-smoking adult on a safe surface is as safe as any other sleep arrangement. Wow. That’s a bold claim. It is a bold claim. I’m excited that they actually went there. Yes. I did forget to add for number seven, safe surface.

No blankets and pillows near baby. Which is, seems obvious, but I just wanna state out, like you use one pillow under your head, and if you need a blanket, you tuck it around you and don’t let it loose around the bed. Mm-hmm. I have heard also of some people taking one of those big safety pins, like a giant one and safety pinning, a corner of the blanket to the mattress.

Mm-hmm. So the blanket does, you know, stays in the same place. And so it can be on baby, like after four months of age. Right. You know, because sometimes they do want to have a blanket. Yeah. It’s like, but that’s their comfort item and their comfort item helps them sleep. So they can’t have that? And it’s like, just, I guess you could safety pin it.

Anything you could do to mitigate the risk, basically. Yes. And that’s, and that’s what this whole episode is about. Right. Is understanding where the risk comes from and understanding how to minimize it. So ideally I would like to see every bed sharing parent follow those seven rules. Yes. 

I understand y’all aren’t gonna do that every time. I didn’t, I don’t do that every. And haven’t done it every time. And I bed shared with both of my kids from day one. However, you know, it’s something that then you can understand when you are taking risks and basically you can consent to that and not do that accidentally.

Yeah. I mean, if I had another baby, I would do it. Like I would do it purposefully this time and I would make a plan for it. And I even told my husband, if we had another baby you’re out of the bed. Yeah. Like you’re gonna be sleeping somewhere else. And me and the baby get the bed and that’s where we’re gonna be until they’re six months old and then I’m putting them in their own room in a crib. 

Because I, I sleep tortured myself. Except for naps, which were lovely with my baby and I just refused to do that anymore. Yeah. Like the amount of suffering that I put on myself for both of my postpartum periods was so unnecessary and I just didn’t realize that it could have been easier and it was okay.

Yeah. And I, I think it’s okay that we need to make individualized plans for individual circumstances. But on the universal recommendations side of things, I think every single parent should be educated on safe bed sharing. I also think y’all should know these rules that I’m about to lay out. And this is just generally ways to, you know, avoid risks in your area, whether or not you plan to sleep with a baby in your bed.

Even if you’re like, my baby is gonna sleep in their crib every single time. I still think you should do this. So avoid possible smothering risks like sofas and recliners, softness, or sagging areas that roll your baby against you and keep them from lifting their head free, spaces between the mattress and the headboard, between the mattress and side rails, between the mattress and the wall where a baby could get stuck, pets or older children that might join in the space. 

Pets. Yes. I actually didn’t think about pets one time. Who’s got a cat that looks to sleep on your face? Yeah, that could be quite dangerous for a baby. And also I’m just gonna call out the partners here who are typical sofa sleepers. Yeah.

Like I’ve seen this so many times where the partners want to sleep with the baby on the couch as like a way to let the mom sleep by herself. I’d rather you sleep on the floor with the baby. Yeah. Right. So like this isn’t just you, this is your partner too. Mm-hmm. They need to actually understand these things.

Yeah. Because in the middle of the night, when they’re trying to quote unquote help and they get up and take the baby and try to calm them down and let you sleep, where are they going with the baby? Like, are they gonna take it to a recliner or the couch? And then you wake up in the morning and you didn’t even know what was happening.

Yeah. And you know, I’ve also worked with people where you know, they basically came to me and said, look, my husband sleeping on the couch with the baby is the only way that I ever get sleep. And I was like, okay. So, you know, that’s not the safest scenario. Let’s figure out how we can make it safer. And I remember for one person, I basically taught her husband how to essentially like swaddle himself to the baby so that the baby would stay in the middle of his chest when they were sleeping in the recliner or whatever it.

You know, because I was like, yeah, like, I’m not gonna just tell you guys this isn’t safe and don’t do it. Cuz you just told me that it’s the only way you get sleep and you’re gonna keep doing it. Mm-hmm. Actually, you just reminded me that when my son was little and we would drop him off at my ex-husband’s parents’ house on Friday sometimes so we could go on a date and he’d spend the night there, they routinely slept in the recliner with him, with him on their chest. 

Yeah. So this is important for grandparents to know too. Yeah. But I didn’t bed share. Right. You know, so if you, if you surveyed me as a parent, I would’ve said no, I would’ve said no, he sleeps in his crib by himself.

You know, if they had specifically been like, so when he goes to grandma’s house, where does he sleep? I’m like, oh, on top of her giant Swedish chest in a Lazyboy recliner. Yeah. And they’re like, so you’re bed sharing? Yes. Crap. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So regardless of your intention to bed share, you should clear your own bed of unused pillows, stuffed toys, heavy comforters, or covers or anything nearby that could dangle or tangle like phone cords, strings, scarves, ribbons, hair elastics, any of that?

Did hear a horrifying story once about the blind cords, right. And that was actually next to a crib. And so the baby was tall enough and could like pull themselves up to a standing position, grab the cord for the blinds and actually ended up getting themselves tangled up in that. I have a story for you.

Okay. I was babysitting one of my best friend’s children and he was like one, you know, I put him down to nap in his crib. And his crib was like in her office or something. And they had this really, really old dog who liked to sleep in there with him. And so, you know, I let him sleep in there with him, kept the door open and the dog started barking in the middle of the nap.

And I came in like just ready to yell at that dog. You know, I stomped in, I was like, like, you know, just ready to yell. And I looked and the baby had stood up, like on their tip toes, reached out of the crib into the closet and had a fishing pole in their hand. And the dog was looking at me like, what the fuck are you doing that you just let this baby grab a fishing pole?

Oh my gosh. And so I grabbed the fishing pole, put the baby back down, like then basically surveyed the two feet around the, you know, I had like pulled the crib to the middle of the room, moved everything, and the dog just laid down and looked at me and was like yeah, you’re welcome. Yeah, no doubt, like, sorry, old girl.

I got; I got you now. I understand the assignment. Anyway, that was fine. Anyway, moral of the story is don’t trust your babies. They’re nuts. They, they are just trying to get into trouble all the time. Okay. So regardless if your intention to bed share, you should check your bed for possible hazards, such as the distance to the floor and the landing surface on the floor.

Personally, my bed is against the wall on one side. And on the other side, I have like a camping sleeping pad laid out because my kids both have fallen out of my bed. It’s high off the ground. Not while sleeping, of course, like while we’re just like hanging out in the bed and I’m like, this is fine.

And I turn around in the baby, like takes a nose, dive off, because why not? Oh my God. I have a story for you when you’re done. Yeah. Oh yeah. Last one is to look for any sharp, poking, or pinching places. So especially like corners next to bed posts and stuff like that. So we have a big king size bed and usually at the end of my bed is 15 loads of unfolded laundry.

Of course there is. Same. Usually a laundry basket. And so Heidi, when she was like, I don’t know, 10 months old. She was standing on the bed, looking at herself in the mirror, on the wall, which they love to do, still love to do it. Mm-hmm. And she turns around and she just does a flying back Swan dive and I’m like, whoa.

And she lands head down in the laundry basket. The laundry basket flips over and she stands up and puts both of her arms up and she’s smiling. Like she was, you know, you know, Simone Biles, just like 10 outta 10. I just landed that mom. And I was like, oh my God, can you imagine if she was by herself, stuck upside down in a pile of clean laundry?

Like how do you do it? Yeah, it’s wild. Seriously. I like, every time my kids have done something like that, too, I’m like right next to them. Yeah. It’s like, it’s never, when I leave them alone. I’m like, okay, now I’m gonna be like super careful and put like the pool noodle at the end of the bed so they can’t roll off and then do this and then do this.

No, it’s like when I’m sitting there drinking coffee and I’m like, this is fine. I’m supervising my kids. No, they just did something crazy. Right. And so also just quick note, you know, they’re all about like crib sleeping, you know, crib sleeping’s the safest. Yeah, until they start hurling themselves out of the crib. Until they can climb. Then it’s terrifying.

So I actually had to transition Heidi early into a big girl bed because she was not a safe crib sleeper anymore. So you’re, you know, you’re constantly behind is what we’re continuing to say here. Pretty much. And I have a bumper now that goes under her mattress pad and it, then you tuck the sheets in really tight. But you know, she was over a year of age when I did that.

You don’t wanna put a bumper or a wedge or anything when they’re baby, baby. Yeah. But I had to do it because she rolled outta bed. Oh yeah. All the time. Yeah. I just started transitioning Lyra to her own bed like this week. Oh. And I had this little toddler bed from Ikea with these bed rails and stuff.

Oh, that did not work. So I took the whole bed frame, shoved it in the attic. So now I have, I put two yoga mats on the ground cuz we have hardwood floors and everything slips on it. And then in the middle of them, I have her little mattress. And so it’s like soft on either side too. And the mattress won’t slide around when I’m trying to get up off of it when I fall asleep on it.

 And it’s been pretty good, actually. She’s been taking most of her naps there. And last night she stayed there till 4:00 AM. Oh, which I’m sure I could have gotten her back to sleep there, but I was like, I’m so tired. I’m gonna fall asleep on this hard ass floor and then wake up in two hours to go record and feel like crap.

Yeah, for sure. So I took her back to bed with me. And then when I got up, I had Ivan come back to the bed so he could sleep with her till they woke up. But it’s been good. It’s been nice. That does sound lovely and congratulations on that continued separation. Thank you. So the moral of the story is we should be having these conversations.

Yes. And ABM, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine actually has a protocol on this. Yeah. And they, their protocol like has way more detail about breast sleeping than we’ve talked about in this episode. So if you guys wanna check it out, we’re gonna link that again in the show notes on the website.

Especially for our healthcare provider listeners, if you’re like, I never thought about any of this, go read the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s protocol on breast sleeping. Yes. And they do say that all families should be counseled on risk mitigation and safe co-sleeping so we aren’t breaking any rules here today, Maureen, by talking about this. 

We’re actually just following the rules. Yes. And we should be counseling all families on their individual increased risks for co-sleeping and all of our conversations should be non-judgmental. Yes. And that is the conclusion of their giant protocol about this.

And I strongly believe that should also be what the AAP and the CDC say, and it is not. And it’s very disappointing to me because when we have providers that refuse to talk about topics and are judgmental about it, then we have a breach of trust between patient and provider. And we know that that leads to worse outcomes. That leads to patients not being truthful with providers, for fear of what will happen.

And then we don’t have the opportunity for providers to offer appropriate education to their patients. Right. And, you know, in other countries like New Zealand, for example, they began including the safe bed sharing conversations with their parents. Yeah. And this approach actually led to a 30% reduction in mortality.

Yeah. Since 2010. Yeah. And it’s amazing. And I think that, I don’t see any downside to this. And I know a lot of providers have said like, well, if we tell people that there is a safe way to bed share, everyone’s gonna bed share and there’s no safe way to bed share. I call BS. They’re doing it anyway.

They’re doing it anyway. And providing more education, even if you don’t wanna say it’s safe bed sharing, call it safer bed sharing. Right? Oh, whatever you wanna call it there. I think parents deserve nonjudgmental education about the ways that they can, frankly, survive with their babies. Yeah. And it also kind of makes parents feel good and seen and heard when you help them identify their individual risk factors.

You’re not just getting a cookie cutter statement of like; this is how it is and do A plus B and that will equal C. It’s like, Hey Barbara, you know, what’s going on at your house? Tell me about sleeping. How are you suffering? Is there some way I can help you? That is a huge difference in how you feel about the care that you’re receiving and the trust that you have in the recommendation of that provider.

If it feels like a cookie cutter blanket statement, people are gonna be less likely to adhere to it. Just like in health class when they told you that abstinence was the best policy. How did that work out? Yeah. How’d that work out for you, Tina? Yeah. Talking to you. So, you know, let’s stop pretending like we can control every bad outcome in your child’s life also.

And do your best with what you have been given. Right. That’s all we can ever ask is that you do your best. Yep. And you know, we’re just gonna, once again, encourage every provider listening to provide open conversation space, non-judgmental education, and to help parents accurately assess individual risk profiles.

Love it. Okay. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Okay guys. Love this episode.

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I wanna give a lovely award to somebody. As do I. Okay. So today’s award goes to one of our Facebook group members. Her name is Tara Y from Austin, Texas. Austin. Tara says my baby latched well from the beginning, despite having a traumatic labor and delivery that ended with a C-section under general anesthesia.

Woo. But due to my C-section and large breasts, I primarily used the football hold. When my baby was about two months old, we started having difficulty nursing in that position because he was too big. Mm-hmm yeah, been there. Yes. I advocated for myself and sought help from a lactation consultant that helped me with different positions and honestly, mostly confidence.

I’ve made it to breastfeeding for eight months, even surviving going back to work as a kindergarten teacher. Bless you. And now I get to spend the summer breastfeeding my little guy. Aww. And she put the cutest picture ever. That’s so great. And we will put that in our Instagram story. Tara, that’s awesome.

And I think a lot of people don’t realize that some of the positions that you start with in the beginning, just don’t work anymore after. But the good news is, you know, at eight months they’re kind of making their own positions. They’re like doing the drive by nursing where they’re like nursing, sitting up nursing with their body completely facing the other room.

 This girl likes the like side saddle. Oh, yeah. The side saddle nursing. Yeah. You know, people always ask like, oh my gosh, is positioning always gonna be this hard? And I’m like, it’ll be different hard because your baby will choose the position then you’re just kinda like laying there hoping for the best.

Yeah. But anyway, Tara, congratulations. We are going to give you the Positioning Princess Award. Love it. We’re so proud of you for seeing your problem,, getting the help you needed and then pushing through and figuring out what to do that works for you. Yes. So thank you, Tara. And thank you listeners for tuning in, into another episode of the Milk Minute Podcast.

How we navigate this big system that is not set up to support lactating parents is by educating ourselves and our friends and family. And sometimes our providers. If you would like to become one of our patrons and get access to behind the scenes stuff and merch and all kinds of other cool things, you can become one of our VIPs at and we would love to have you. 

And it would be very awesome for your monetary donation in any amount, because it goes right back into supporting the show and providing evidence based lactation advice for all people. Yay. Thanks for listening.

And we will see you next week. Toodalee do. Bye.


How Dangerous Is It When A Mother Sleeps With Her Baby? : Goats and Soda : NPR

The Safe Sleep Seven – La Leche League International (

Bedsharing and Breastfeeding: The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol #6, Revision 2019 | Breastfeeding Medicine (

Reduce the Risk of SIDS & Suffocation –

Ball, Helen L. (2007) “Bed-Sharing Practices of Initially Breastfed Infants in the First 6 Months of Life”. Infant and Child Development. (16) 387-401.

Devlin, Hannah. The Guardian, May 22, 2022,“Enzyme in babies’ blood linked to risk of sudden infant death syndrome”

Gettler, Lee T., McKenna, James J. (2010) “Evolutionary perspectives on mother–infant sleep proximity and breastfeeding in a laboratory setting” American Journal of Biological Anthropology.

Hodges, Nichole, L. McKenzie, Laura, B. Anderson, Sarah, E. Katz, Mira, L. 13, February 2018, “Exploring Lactation Consultant Views on Infant Safe Sleep” Maternal and Child Health Journal.(2018) 22:1111–1117.


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