Introducing … breastsleeping

375089415_70a490ed92What is breastsleeping?

I was intrigued when I read a commentary in Acta Paediatrica whose totle included a word I hadn’t previously met.

“There is no such thing as infant sleep, there is no such thing as breastfeeding, there is only breastsleeping.”

Intriguing. Here’s the abstract, if you’d like to know more…

“Recently Mobbs et al. 2015 describe the need for, and benefits of, immediate and sustained contact, including cosleeping, to establish an appropriate foundation for optimal human infant breastfeeding, neonatal attachment and brain growth. To further support this model we propose a new concept, ‘breastsleeping’, aimed to help both resolve the bedsharing debate and to distinguish the significant differences (and associated advantages) of the breastfeeding-bedsharing dyad when compared with the non-breastfeeding-bedsharing situations, when the combination of breastfeeding-bedsharing is practiced in the absence of all known hazardous factors.

Breastfeeding is so physiologically and behaviorally entwined and functionally interdependent with forms of cosleeping that we propose the use of the term breastsleeping to acknowledge: 1) the critical role that immediate and sustained maternal contact plays in helping to establish optimal breastfeeding; 2) the fact that normal, human (species-wide) infant sleep can only be derived from studies of breastsleeping dyads because of the ways maternal-infant contact affects the delivery of breastmilk, the milk’s ingestion, the infant’s concomitant and subsequent metabolism and other physiological processes, maternal and infant sleep architecture, including arousal patterns, as well as breastfeeding frequency and prolongation and; 3) that breastsleeping by mother-infant pairs comprises such vastly different behavioral and physiological characteristics compared with non-breastfeeding mothers and infants, this dyadic context must be distinguished and given its own epidemiological category and benefits to risks assessment.”

I find that really useful. This issue so needs clarifying, and let’s hope that this concept will do just that. If you like this term, and think it should be more widely used, then I invite you to use it in a sentence this week, so we can also share it with others!

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McKenna JJ and Gettler LT (2015). There is no such thing as infant sleep, there is no such thing as breastfeeding, there is only breastsleeping. Acta Paediatrica DOI: 10.1111/apa.13161
photo credit: Afternoon snack via photopin (license)

4 comments for “Introducing … breastsleeping

  1. August 28, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Makes perfect sense to me!

  2. Natasha Namua
    August 31, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    As a midwife i can use this term to discuss the act of co-sleeping without using the (seemingly) prohibited actual term co-sleeping. Breastsleeping also implies that a baby latched at the breast whilst asleep is normal and that the baby is not using mum as a dummy, but as nature intended. i love it! i will use it everyday!

  3. September 3, 2015 at 12:55 am

    I did it! I used this word in a sentence this week. I was carrying my baby in a sling and someone asked,”Is he sleeping?” No, he is “Breastsleeping.” Meaning he was sleeping and suckling simultaneously, as we practiced immediate and sustained maternal contact. 🙂 Love this!

  4. Sue
    September 28, 2015 at 8:12 am

    It is common sense is it not. We are the only mammals that are ‘led ‘to believe that our offspring should sleep separately from us. A great read. I remember feeding one of my babies whilst in a sling almost 30 years ago – while I got on with housework! As more babies came along, I settles for a good book, and a cuppa in a comfy armchair. But always ‘breast slept’ for months

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