Tuesday, January 12, 2010

La Leche League Promotes Co-Sleeping

Milwaukee is having an endemic of co-sleeping deaths. The numbers of babies that are dying is tragic. Alcohol is one factor. I'd like to point out what I think is another. La Leche League, a leading promoter of breast feeding, is a supporter of co-sleeping:

Many mothers have found that cosleeping has many benefits for their families.

According to Dr James McKenna,

"Studies have shown that co-sleeping with a breastfeeding infant promotes bonding, regulates the mother and baby's sleep patterns, plays a role in helping the mother to become more responsive to her baby's cues, and gives both the mother and baby needed rest. The co-sleeping environment also assists mothers in the continuation of breastfeeding on demand, an important step in maintaining the mother's milk supply. " http://www.nd.edu/~jmckenn1/lab/faq.html

Contrary to popular opinion, cosleeping actually helps babies become independent. Meredith Small, anthropologist and author of Our Babies Ourselves, says,

"For millions of years, the normal sleeping position of human infants has been on their backs nestled next to mother. Only in western cultures do we force babies to sleep alone, thinking they are more safe and independent placed in a crib with no contact. But history, and how most babies sleep in other cultures, suggests that the West is out of step with what is best physically and emotionally for our children."

I was more than a bit independent minded about the topic of breast feeding as we had our first, but I know that our small town hospital had plenty of La Leche League literature lying around, so I imagine they are influential in urban Milwaukee as well. They offer safety tips, but those are clearly being ignored. Perhaps Milwaukee should be cause enough for La Leche to rethink their position on co-sleeping.