Baby Swaddling

The Swaddling Debate: Yea or Nay?

Part of the job description of a postpartum doula is educating and empowering our clients to make decisions through evidence based research. Many parents, including myself, spent much time researching pregnancy and birth issues such as nutrition, in utero testing, medicated/unmedicated birth and so on. What most of us didn’t research were issues that we will face once our baby (babies) has arrived. Do I circumcise? Do I want vitamin K shot? Do I want delayed cord clamping? Do I want to delay newborn screening? Is it safe to co-sleep? Is swaddling safe? These and many other issues arise and many parents feel unprepared to make decisions.

I am beginning a series of “hot topic” issues that new parents may have concerns about and may not have even thought about until faced with them. Swaddling is at the forefront of my mind as I have recently had a client family that had concerns about swaddling based on a recent Canadian study.

Working as a postpartum doula, part of my job is to assist families with infant soothing techniques. I learned years ago when my children were babies that swaddling can be “magical” when done correctly.Once I finally wrestled my bundles into a burrito shape, they squirmed and wiggled, then it happened…they would settle themselves down. To me, it was a no brainer.

What I have discovered over the last couple years working as a postpartum doula, is that some people feel swaddling is “bad”. There have been studies that say swaddling causes hip issues, that cause baby to overheat and it MAY cause an increased risk of SIDS. Other parents sing praises about swaddling as studies have shown it soothes babies, promotes deeper and better sleep andreducesthe risk of SIDS.

So is swaddling “good” or “bad”? This is a question each parent must make for themselves. First, I always recommend parents research for themselves and consult their pediatricians for advice is they have any questions or concerns.

Here are some great resources for researching for yourself:

http://swaddlingresearch.org

https://www.healthychildren.org

http://www.mayoclinic.org (how to swaddle safely)

http://swaddlingresearch.org/2015/03/

As a trained postpartum doula, I personally use swaddling with my client families unless they ask otherwise. Swaddling, done properly, is a wonderful tool to help soothe babies and help with sleep. I always recommend that baby be dressed in a light weight outfit, swaddled firmly not excessively tight, and not with legs bound. Essentially, babies arms are confined and legs are able to stretch out freely as needed. Baby should ALWAYS be laid other their back when put down swaddled just as they are if they were not swaddled.

So, based on your research, what do you you think about swaddling? Yea or Nay?

Filed under: Newborns, Treatments and Your Options, Postpartum Planning

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