Newborn dies after mom does something we all did while breastfeeding

A Michigan mother lost her baby girl only hours after giving birth as a result of a tragic and all too common accident. The mother in question gave birth on Friday, May 23 at 2:30 a.m. in her home in Independence Township, Michigan, aided by a midwife. Three hours later, she was nursing her baby, holding her close to her bosom when the unthinkable happened.


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This poor mom fell asleep while breastfeeding. But, apparently, exhaustion overtook the mom and she fell asleep while still breastfeeding her child. When she awoke, the baby wasn't breathing and seemed unresponsive. After calling 911 and rushing the infant to a hospital, the child was pronounced dead.

The Oakland County Sherriff's Office is investigating the death, but no foul play is suspected. It's more than likely that the child suffocated because her airways were obstructed as she was lying against her mother's bosom.

I can only imagine the pain this mother must feel. Not only did she lose her child only hours after meeting her for the very first time, but she most likely blames herself for her baby's death--and that guilt and doubt must be eating her alive. But the reality is that many, if not most, new mothers have fallen asleep (or come dangerously close to it) while nursing their babies.

A study led by health psychologist and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett found that 72 percent of mothers who fed their babies in bed fell asleep while doing so, while 44 percent of mothers who fed their children while sitting on chairs, recliners, or sofas fell asleep in these locations. Interestingly enough, sofas, chairs, and recliners are considered more dangerous locations for breastfeeding since, should a mother fall asleep, the risk of suffocation is higher.

While there are many cases where sleep-nursing has led to accidental deaths, in the larger scheme of things, these cases are extremely rare. But do remember that this could happen to any mother, and that we shouldn't be placing blame on this woman but, rather, having a frank and judgment-free dialogue about breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and how to tackle exhaustion when working on so little sleep.

Image via Thinkstock

Topics: accident  breastfeeding  nursing  newborn death