A recent study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, followed pregnant women for the first year of their infant’s life to see if bedsharing had any connection with the duration of breastfeeding. Bedsharing refers to a mother and her baby sleeping together in the same bed.
For the purpose of the study, mothers were required to complete questionnaires explaining their bedsharing and breastfeeding habits when their child reached two weeks old and again at 1, 2, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months old.
Bedsharing and Breastfeeding
The study concluded that bedsharing mothers were more likely to breastfeed longer. It also found that mothers who bedshared when their infants were younger breastfed the longest.
Other factors – such as the mother’s age, education, marital status, previous breastfeeding experience and work schedule within the first year of their child’s life – also affected breastfeeding duration. However, eliminating those underlying factors did not change primary results of the study.
Bedsharing and SIDS
While these results provide strong evidence that bedsharing helps mothers successfully breastfeed longer, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges parents to be cautious. Their Safe Sleep and SIDS Risk Reduction publication states that bedsharing is not recommended because of previous data connecting it with a higher risk of SIDS.
The AAP recognizes the correlation between bedsharing and ease of breastfeeding but they believe the benefits are not worth potentially put infants at risk. Instead of bedsharing, the AAP suggests that parents “place infants to sleep in a separate but proximate location rather than sleeping in the same bed.”
No studies have been conducted to evaluate whether “separate but proximate” sleeping areas promote breastfeeding the same way bedsharing does.