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Durham University

Department of Anthropology


Publication details for Prof Helen L. Ball

Ball, H.L. (2006). Bed-sharing on the post-natal ward: breastfeeding and infant sleep safety. Paediatrics and Child Health 11(Suppl A): 43A-46A.

Author(s) from Durham


Many hospitals make a commitment to institute 'baby-friendly' initiatives on post-natal wards. Bed sharing (bedding-in) is one of these initiatives. By allowing mothers to comfort, feed and care for their babies in bed, bed sharing may assist the establishment of breastfeeding while helping mothers to get more rest. The effects of skin-to-skin contact and suckling within a short time of birth are well known, but research into the optimal method for reinforcement of these practices over the subsequent days has rarely included research on bed sharing. Currently, there is no published research on any negative effects for mothers and infants in the postnatal period. There are no data, for instance, on which to make judgements as to the safety of mothers and babies when bed sharing after exhausting deliveries. In the present article, the preliminary results of a randomized controlled study of bedsharing on a postnatal ward are reported. Nighttime infrared video recordings are used to examine mother and baby behaviour on the first and second postnatal nights for mothers experiencing vaginal deliveries without the use of opiate analgesics during labour. When completed, the current study will be able to address important, unanswered questions about bed sharing as a caregiving strategy on the postnatal ward.