Co-sleep­ing safely with mum


When Ari­ana Davis’ new­born twins wake in the night, she sim­ply turns to them to com­fort their cries.

She is among the west Auck­land mums in­vited to flax-weave their own wa­hakura (bassinet) to safely co-sleep with ba­bies.

Waitem­ata¯ DHB launched the safe-sleep classes at Waita¯kere Hos­pi­tal three years ago to re­duce the risk of sud­den un­ex­pected death in in­fancy (SUDI).

The pro­gramme has proven so pop­u­lar it is now be­ing adopted by North­land DHB.

Un­for­tu­nately the birth of Davis’ now two-week-old twins clashed with the course so she couldn’t at­tend, but DHB staff gifted her two wa­hakura.

The mum-of-three said cosleep­ing was im­por­tant to her, but she wanted to do it in a safe way.

‘‘I was al­ways scared of rolling onto them. This was a great way for us to have them close to us but safe at the same time,’’ she said.

The Massey res­i­dent said hav­ing the wa­hakura so close to her made ev­ery­thing eas­ier with twins Khalia and Len­nox.

‘‘Calm­ing them down is just so much eas­ier and it’s just a close­ness. They’re in­side of you for nine months and they just want to be around you,’’ she said.

SUDI is the lead­ing cause of pre­ventable death in New Zealand ba­bies. A to­tal of 58 ba­bies in Waitem­ata¯ died from SUDI be­tween 2002 and 2015.

In many SUDI cases, it was found the baby was bed-shar­ing, sleep­ing on a couch or sur­rounded by pil­lows.

The ini­tia­tive was aimed at Ma¯ ori and Pa­cific Is­land par­ents as their ba­bies were more likely to die from SUDI than any other cul­ture. Waitem­ata¯ DHB mid­wife Sue Fitzger­ald said it was im­por­tant to do some­thing more to spread the safe sleep mes­sage.

‘‘For us, a baby dy­ing from some­thing that could have been pre­vented is just un­ac­cept­able,’’ Fitzger­ald said in a state­ment.

‘‘We needed to do some­thing more tan­gi­ble than just hand­ing out a pam­phlet.’’

Plun­ket Waikumete clin­i­cal leader Kathy Green said Plun­ket shared con­cerns about ba­bies dy­ing from SUDI.

’’We’re par­tic­u­larly con­cerned that a high pro­por­tion of those are Ma¯ ori. We sup­port the Waitem­ata¯ DHB’s wa­hakura ini­tia­tive, and when we work with preg­nant mums and tell them about how they can at­tend the wa­hakura weav­ing ses­sions, it’s well re­ceived.’’


Johnny Vae­toru and Ari­ana Davis with two-week-old twins Khalia and Len­nox Vae­toru.

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