Safer Sleep Week from The Lullaby Trust

By Stella Parkin Professional Advisor and Training Lead, The Lullaby Trust Midwives Safe Sleep

Safer Sleep Week is The Lullaby Trust’s national awareness campaign targeting anyone looking after a young baby. It aims to raise awareness of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and the safer sleep advice that reduces the risk of it occurring.

This year’s Safer Sleep Week theme is Instagram vs. Reality, focusing on the importance of having a clear, safer sleep space for baby and taking the pressure off parents who see over-styled images of parenthood, reminding them that it’s not the safest way to sleep their baby. The Lullaby Trust will gain a deeper understanding on how much social media plays a role in making decisions around following safer sleep advice. You can find more information and access free resources.

Pregnancy provides a reachable moment for midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs). Families begin to make decisions about the future care of their baby as early as the first scan. The antenatal period provides an opportunity to identify specific risks, both modifiable and non-modifiable, for that family’s baby. Early intervention with families could help them to make lifestyle changes and care decisions with safer sleep in mind. For example, how to make the baby’s sleeping environment safer or how to keep their baby smoke-free. This is particularly important with socially disadvantaged families and those at increased risk of SIDS, ensuring a personalised approach and plan of care is in place before the baby’s arrival.

To support you in your practice, the RCM has recently published a guidance document safer sleep guidance for maternity healthcare professionals. In addition to this useful resource, The Lullaby Trust has produced free safer sleep training for midwives working in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (NI) to assist with having conversations about safer sleep. You can find more information about accessing the training on The Lullaby Trust.

Unfortunately, families who have experienced the sudden and unexpected death of a baby are often very anxious when they have another baby. The Lullaby Trust’s Care of Next Infant (CONI) programme is a bereavement support programme that provides emotional and practical support to bereaved families during the early months of their new baby’s life.

Midwives play a crucial role in identifying when expectant parents have experienced a SIDS/SUDI, and are anxious about this subsequent pregnancy. They are usually the first step in positively introducing the family to CONI and referring them to the local CONI Coordinator (where CONI is available in England, Wales and NI), with their permission. The Lullaby Trust, with support from the charity Teddy’s Wish have produced new resources that can be used in the antenatal period to provide midwives with key information to be able to talk knowledgeably to expectant parents about what support CONI can offer them. There is a free A5 Easy Read card in English to act as an aide memoir for midwives, which is also available in a range of languages to support inclusivity of CONI. There is also a free recorded training presentation, designed for midwives. Both resources will be distributed by the CONI Team at The Lullaby Trust via local midwifery leads.