Breastfeeding and Co-sleeping

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ANTH 302 – Spring Semester
Position Paper
The practice of co-sleeping has succeeded throughout human evolution and has continued over the years of our civilization despite controversy and the liability of infant deaths. Over the last couple of decades co-sleeping has become a major debate amongst parents in the United States, but I believe that pediatricians and parent educators should encourage co-sleeping with children. There has been a lot of disagreement between the benefits and risks associated with infant/parent co-sleeping. Advocates of co-sleeping argue that it benefits both the child and parents by creating a convenient way to manage, respond, and feed their child throughout the night, allowing both the parent and child more time for rest. Opponents of co-sleeping argue that the practice is in many ways a danger—one that because of health, developmental, and safety concerns has been and should continue to be abandoned by health professionals and parents (Stein, 2001). I would argue that the benefits of co-sleeping outweigh the risks. First, breast milk is widely acknowledged as the most complete form of nutrition for infants, with a variety of benefits for infant health, growth, immunity, and development. This unique nutritional source cannot adequately be replaced by any other food, including infant formula. Therefore, a benefit of co-sleeping is the advantage to and promotion of breastfeeding. The proximity to and sensory contact with the mother during sleep facilitates prompt responses to signs of the infant’s readiness to breastfeed and provides psychological comfort and reassurance to the dependent infant as well as the parents (ABM). Breastfeeding has been found to be the most prominent reason for co-sleeping, which not only supports the ease and convenience of nighttime breastfeeding, but it also may lessen maternal pain or discomfort following birth (Ball, 2002). The majority of women find it more comfortable to breastfeed while lying on...
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