Presentation Information

Cecilia Tomori

Resolving cultural conflicts in nighttime breastfeeding and infant sleep

  • Speaker: Cecilia Tomori , PhD, MA
  • Presentation Type:
  • Duration: 60 Mins
  • Credits: 1 CERP, 1 Nursing CEU, 1 CME, 0.1 Midwifery CEU, 1 Dietetic CEU

Nighttime breastfeeding and proximate mother-infant sleep play a crucial role in sustaining lactation but present challenges for parents in settings where solitary infant sleep is the norm, and bedsharing is viewed as controversial and inherently dangerous. While separate parent-child sleep arrangements are a relatively recent cultural invention, they have become the dominant cultural norm, which also shapes medical infant sleep guidance in the U.S. and other similar settings. Recent breastfeeding promotion efforts, however, conflict with these cultural and medical imperatives for separate sleep. As more parents breastfeed, they find themselves falling asleep next to their babies. Some may fall asleep on unsafe surfaces in their attempt to avoid bedsharing, while others regularly bedshare in secret to avoid social stigma and other repercussions. To ensure both safety and wellbeing for infants and families, an integrated approach to nighttime breastfeeding and infant sleep will be recommended that incorporates evolutionary and cross-cultural perspectives.