Infant's Tragic Death Highlights Danger of Breastfeeding in Bed

baby footprintsFor the most part, breastfeeding is one of the most natural, healthy gifts you can give your child. However, it can also be potentially deadly if you don't take precautions.

A story out of New Zealand tragically illustrates what all pregnant women and women of newborns need to know. It happened last year in Auckland, when a 2-day-old baby girl was found dead after a breastfeeding session in her mother's hospital bed.

According to the New Zealand Herald, the baby was found lifeless just hours after her mother last fed her. Nurses had brought the baby to the mother, who wasn't feeling well, in her bed around 1 a.m., and around 3:30 a.m., she called nurses to take her back to the bassinet. At that time the baby appeared fine, as she did when nurses reportedly checked on her at 5:30 a.m., but when the mother checked on her around 8:30 a.m., she clearly was not.

She says the baby's skin was darkened around her neck, and when she called for help, nurses found the baby listless and unresponsive. Nothing could be done to save her.

I don't know why the baby didn't show signs of injury right away, but the only explanation seems to be that the baby was injured during the breastfeeding session. The mother recently told the court that as she was breastfeeding she "had a listless sleep." The official cause of death declared: "possible accidental asphyxia during breast-feeding while lying in bed."

Tragic doesn't even begin to describe it.

Of course, it could have happened while a mother was bottle feeding, or just co-sleeping as well, and of course ALL women should take precautions. But there's something so soothing about breastfeeding that it seems women should be extra vigilant about making sure they're not too tired while they're doing it to prevent a similar tragedy and perhaps not do it in bed at all.

There's also the nurses' responsibility at question in the case currently in court. Should they have been checking on her more often? Should they have provided more warnings about the potential dangers of breastfeeding in bed? I don't know the answers, and none of them will bring this poor innocent baby back. Hopefully, however, at the very least, this tragedy will help bring more attention to this potential danger, and better help women and health care workers prevent it.

Do you/did you worry about falling asleep while feeding your baby?


Image via Katelyn Kenderdine/Flickr

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Craft... CraftyJenna

It sounds like there is something missing from this story, because they cannot exactly pinpoint why the baby died. Breastfeeding in bed can be perfectly safe and fine for babies, way to try and rile up the co-sleeping crowd and start a mommu bitchfight though.

elle7777 elle7777

I wouldn't rule out congenital abnormalities....It's not common to suffocate a baby but have them die hours later.

Lex29 Lex29

Where else are you supposed to breastfeed in a hospital hours or days after giving birth BUT in bed?  This is really about the tragedy of breastfeeding while asleep, not in bed.  Sheesh, what you'll do for attention grabbing headlines is appalling.  

Stacey. Stacey.

No because when I was tired my SO took over (thank GOD for bottles, being rested up made me an overall better mother). Im not saying this mother in particular, but people need to be more open to pumping and using bottles and also formula. In todays hustle and bustle world its not easy trying to be a full time mom while taking care of other duties. If pumping or using formula helps a mom save her sanity, she will give her kid an overall better life. This mom wasnt feeling well, its sad she felt she had to breastfeed instead of letting a nurse give her a bottle (im guessing she couldnt pump right after giving birth)

Stacey. Stacey.

And, like the other commenters said, this has nothing to do with being in bed. You can safely breastfeed anywhere as long as you are not only awake, but alert to your surroundings. This poor momma wasnt feeling well, and she probably couldnt help falling asleep during which time she suffocated the baby. It could happen anywhere.

mande... manderspanders

sooo... apparently not only are women always supposed to exclusively breastfeed (lest they be judged), but be alert and cognitive at all times while doing so? Seriously? Don't we all know by now by that breastfed babies HAVE to eat more frequently and around the clock... How on earth are mothers supposed to be awake (and alert) 24/7 to breastfeed?

No wonder there is a huge problem with Adderall addiction among mothers.

miche... micheledo

WHAT??????  Five hours later the baby dies and they decide it is because the mom fell asleep FIVE HOURS ago???  Who dies of asphyxiation five hours after???  I don't see how the breastfeeding/falling asleep had a thing to do with this!!

At 3:30 the baby is fine and put in the bassinet.  At 8:30 baby is not fine.  THat is FIVE hours later.  How on earth does that go back to the 3:30 session??

Raya Sassard

actually.. this is very sad for the mother, i couldnt imagine loosing my child 2 days after birth, who in their right mind thinks its ok to breast feed while your sleeping at night? ive heard stories about "its so much easier, you dont have to get up make a bottle and calm them down, ya just pop out a boob and go back to sleep", this is probably not uncommon...but its just the common sense, that you shouldnt co sleep NOR "pop out a boob and go back to sleep" for OBVIOUS reasons.

Raya Sassard

micheledo, they said "appeared fine" which is not the same as "fine", they might have assumed the baby was sleeping, when really.. the baby had passed. maybe this child asphixiated on its own spit up.. who knows..

miche... micheledo

The nurse checked on the baby.  Maybe in New Zealand that means glancing at baby?  I assume checking on a newborn means more then a glance - at least for a nurse.  And when most moms check on their baby they look to see if they are breathing.  Isn't that just a part of how we are?

IF they baby was dead the whole time, then I hope the protocol the nurses changed was that checking on an infant means more then a glance.

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