Safe sleeping and the prevention of SIDS: Role of the midwife
Since the introduction of "Back to Sleep" campaigns that promoted use of the supine position, large epidemiological studies have demonstrated a significant decrease in the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Despite growing evidence that use of the supine position confers the lowest risk of SIDS, many midwives and nurses have been slow to reinforce use of the supine position in their postnatal practice. Midwives and nurses often cite concerns about vomiting and possible aspiration for not reinforcing use of the supine position after birth. Despite implementation of an evidence-based protocol on safe sleeping practices and the development of a new cot card, observation identified inconsistencies in practice.
All midwives working in the antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal areas at RPA Women and Babies were surveyed in September 2006. This survey was designed to appraise the level of knowledge about safe sleeping practices at RPA Women and Babies and to develop an educational strategy that will facilitate an evidence based approach to safe sleeping practices at RPA Women and Babies.
The survey confirmed that midwives remain concerned about universal use of the supine position after birth and will change position for excessive mucous or when the baby is unsettled. The results were concerning and an educational intervention aimed at all midwives is currently in progress October–December 2006.
The focus of the intervention is a DVD developed at RPA Women and Babies. This DVD presents an anatomical animation of the infant’s airway in prone and supine positions, reinforces safe sleeping practices and provides useful links to websites and other relevant literature.
Maureen Ryan, Sandie Bredemeyer & Cherie Desreaux
RPA Women and Babies Centre for Midwifery & Nursing Research
SSWAHS Nurse Strategy Reserve Funding
Dr Sandie Bredemeyer
+61 2 9351 0505