The Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute is committed to facilitating respectful, conversation-based guidance on optimal infant feeding and safe sleep. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued two guidelines to advance support on these critical, sensitive issues. First, the clinical report Safe Sleep and Skin-to-Skin Care in the Neonatal Period for Healthy Term Newborns provides an overview of criteria and challenges for enabling (1) early skin-to-skin care in the delivery room, (2) breastfeeding establishment in the first days of life, and (3) secure positioning of the infant during sleep. The work of CGBI research associate Dr. Kristin Tully on hospital infant bassinets while rooming-in on the postnatal unit is featured in this AAP report as a promising area to promote optimal infant handling, safe and satisfying maternal-newborn sleep experiences, and exclusive breastfeeding. Family and health care provider experiences with maternity care highlighted in the AAP report are currently being investigated in an online CGBI survey – please see the link in this newsletter, participate, and widely circulate so that stakeholder voices are heard.
Considering ways to promote health and family well-being in the home is equally important and the focus of the revised AAP policy statement and technical report on safe infant sleeping environments. These documents detail the evidence-base to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and other causes of infant mortality. Recommended practices include supine positioning, exclusive and continued breastfeeding, and non-smoking environments. Importantly, the policy statement acknowledges that mothers can and do fall asleep in the nighttime locations that they feed their infants. Bringing a baby into bed for feeding is safer than nighttime couch or recliner feeding, then the AAP states that infants should be returned to their own surface for room-sharing. Room sharing and breastfeeding is emphasized for the first year of life. Within the United States, there are significant variations in understandings of infant sleep needs and parenting and childcare practices subsequently vary in ways that directly impact health outcomes. Dr. Tully is part of NIH-funded research to investigate infant sleep development and part of that UNC Center for Developmental Science multi-method longitudinal research that was conducted in homes with African American families. Findings will be shared in multiple presentations at the Society for Research in Infant and Child Development Biennial Meeting in Austin, Texas during April 2017.
Dr. Tully contributes to the National Action Partnership to Promote Safe Sleep to advance the implementation of integrated, conversation-based guidance on safe family sleep and optimal infant feeding. These overlapping issues are simultaneously a focus of the 4th Trimester Project, in which CGBI’s Drs. Tully and Stuebe are engaging mothers and other stakeholders on unmet maternal health needs in partnership with the UNC Center for Maternal and Infant Health.