Co-Sleeping and Bed Sharing in Australian Maternity Units: An Electronic Survey of Midwifery Clinicians' Knowledge, Practice, and Education

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There is little published research regarding co-sleeping and bed sharing in maternity units. As primary carers of mothers and infants, midwives' knowledge and practice may influence cosleeping and bed sharing.

AIM:

To assess clinical midwives' knowledge and practice surrounding co-sleeping and bed sharing in maternity units in the initial postpartum period.

METHODS:

A nationwide electronic survey assessed clinical knowledge and self-reported clinical practice and personal experiences of co-sleeping and bed sharing.

FINDINGS:

Eighty-six registered midwives from 48 hospitals responded to the survey. The majority responded with best practice to hypothetical scenarios. Mother-infant co-sleeping/bed sharing in maternity units was observed by 64% of midwives. All midwives reported providing some education to parents and most (80%) had received education on co-sleeping/bed sharing.

CONCLUSION:

Co-sleeping and bed sharing are relatively common in postnatal maternity units. Clinical practice documents should be consistent with the UNICEF guidelines, and midwives should be supported to implement best practice.

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