RCM and Lullaby Trust join forces to support reduction in sudden infant deaths

By Colin Beesley on 14 October 2022 Midwifery Midwives Midwifery Workforce Maternity Services NHS Neonatal Death Child Mortality Expectant fathers Expectant Mothers Infant Mortality Low Birthweight MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Postnatal Care Prevention Safety Women Postnatal care

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has teamed up with key organisations to provide an information resource for new mothers and families to support safer sleep for premature babies and a reduction in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The resource - developed in collaboration with the Lullaby Trust and the Twins Trust - is aimed at parents and carers of babies born prematurely or with a low birth weight and is published during Baby Loss Awareness Week.

This collaboration has borne fruit in the shape of an easy-to-read poster with key information on preventing SIDS for those babies. These include putting your baby on to their back to sleep, avoiding co-sleeping with your baby, breastfeeding, having a clear sleeping space and how to prevent your baby overheating, which is a risk factor for SIDS. There is also advice around safer use of slings and baby carriers for parents. While SIDS is rare - around two hundred babies die suddenly and unexpectedly every year - we need to be doing all we can to reduce this number even further says the RCM.

“The risk of your baby dying from SIDS is very low, but there are some really simple things that you can do to significantly reduce the risk and they are clearly outlined in this simple but useful poster,” said Sally Ashton-May, Director of Midwifery Policy and Practice at the RCM. “If we can encourage parents to follow these steps, we can make a difference to the number of babies that die from SIDS. Every death of a child from SIDS is a tragedy for the family and a life tragically lost. I hope this poster helps parents to significantly reduce the chances of this happening.”

Some babies are at higher risk of dying unexpectedly in infancy. These include babies born prematurely or small for gestational age, and babies whose parents smoked during pregnancy or after the birth. Babies born into households living with multiple deprivation and vulnerabilities, including substance misuse are also at higher risk of SIDS.

While the poster is aimed at parents, it is also a resource for midwives and other health professionals to use in their discussions with mothers and their partners about SIDS, and when giving them personalised advice and support. The poster joins other resources developed by the RCM and partner organisations to support safer sleep for parents and their babies. These include the RCM’s safer sleep guidance for healthcare professionals  and a RCM blog on safer sleep from the Lullaby Trust

“We need to ensure that families whose babies have a known higher risk of SIDS are supported to follow the safer sleep advice keep their babies as safe as possible. We are very grateful to the RCM and others for working with us to produce this vital resource,” said Jenny Ward, CEO of the Lullaby Trust. “Getting advice out in the first few hours is a priority and we look forward to seeing this poster in postnatal wards.”

Midwives will discuss safe sleeping with you during your antenatal care and after the baby is born says the RCM. It stressed that if parents had any questions at any point during their pregnancy to contact their midwife who will offer any additional support and advice needed

For more information on SIDS and more advice on prevention see What is sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)? - The Lullaby Trust.

See also  https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/How-to-Follow-Safer-Sleep-Advice-in-Emergency-Situations-Resource-2022.pdf.