Campaign promotes ‘safe sleep’ with wearable blankets

March 17th, 2017

When Kara Bellew came to Reid Health’s Family Birthing Center recently to deliver her third baby, she was about to send her husband, Brian, home to Centerville to get “sleep sacks” that she intended to bring with her.

Brian, Kara and Lincoln Bellew.

Brian, Kara and Lincoln Bellew.

She didn’t have to, however. The Reid center recently replaced its newborn blankets with wearable blankets — or sleep sacks — that are considered a safer alternative for sleeping babies. The change is part of ongoing additions and improvements to the birthing experience at Reid Health and part of an ongoing education campaign about safe sleep for infants.  “It was a nice surprise,” Bellew said. “I love them,” she said, noting she’d used them before and while baby Lincoln was nestled in one nearby.

The Reid Health Family Birthing Center is working to increase awareness of safe sleep practices for infants in several ways, including the new blankets for newborns that include a reminder to place infants on their backs to sleep.

Janet Feazell, RN, Lactation Consultant & Perinatal Educator with Reid’s Family Birthing Center, said the promotion and education about safe sleep practices for infants is another example of expanding services and outreach to promote a healthy birthing experience. “These wearable blankets are embroidered with a reminder that says ‘Back is Best’, which helps reinforce the message to parents and caregivers to have the baby sleep on its back.”

The sleep sack avoids any risk of covering baby Lincoln's face.

The sleep sack avoids any risk of covering baby Lincoln’s face.

Bellew noted how the sleep sacks keep the baby calmed and avoid any danger of a blanket covering the face and hindering breathing. “Sleep sacks keep the baby comfortable and secure,” she said.

William Black Jr., MD, with Reid Pediatric & Internal Medicine, said the safe sleep initiative is important. “Teaching safe sleep habits to parents of newborns is an important issue for infants and their caregivers.  Having the staff start teaching these skills at the beginning of life is just another way Reid Health is trying to help educate parents in proper care of their newborns and helping to ensure a healthy environment when the infant goes home.”

Feazell said this and other safety steps are all designed to reduce ricks of SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – and is part of expanding the services and outreach of the family birthing experience at Reid Health. Among recent changes were the addition of a perinatal nurse navigator, the receipt of  “Baby-Friendly®” designation last year, adding a midwife to the team, and continued outreach through parent and family education programs.

Feazell said the center promotes and teaches recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, including:

  • Placing infants on their back for sleeping, including naps, until they are at least one year old.
  • Using only firm sleep surfaces.
  • Don’t let infants use car seats or other sitting devices for routine sleep and naps.
  • Breastfeeding if at all possible, which is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS.
  • Keeping infants in their parents’ room, but in their own safe sleep space, for the first year or at least for the first six months.
  • Making sure soft objects and loose bedding is kept out of the infant’s sleep area.
  • NOT using bumper pads.
  • Avoiding exposure to smoke.
  • Getting infant immunizations according to the recommended schedule – evidence suggests that this also reduces the risk of SIDS by 50 percent.
  • Taking an infant CPR course, which is available at Reid Health. Call (765) 983-3000, extension 2945 to register for this free course.

Kelly Beall, RN, MSN, CLC, Women’s Health Service Line Director, said all the programs, updates and promotions aim to ensure the family birthing experience – a “significant life event” – gets off to the ideal start. “And we want moms, dads and their families to have as much information and education as possible as they welcome their new family member into their homes.”

Kristi James, MSN, CNM, Reid Health midwife, echoed the benefits of educating families on safe sleep for their babies. “Safe sleep starts before the birth of the infant.  Early and consistent prenatal care and preventing fetal exposure to maternal smoking, including second-hand smoke, and full term birth are all factors that decrease risk. Breastfeeding further decreases risk. …Parents should never sleep with an infant on couches, recliners, or armchairs.   And finally, infants should be placed on their back to sleep and should be dressed appropriately to not cause over-heating.”

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