We have learned that Indigenous infants are disproportionately impacted by sudden, unexpected infant death during sleep. While there is no one sleep practice that completely eliminates the risk of sudden, unexpected infant death during sleep, there are recommendations that health-care providers can share with families/caregivers to help support choosing safer infant sleep positions, environments, surfaces and protective factors.
- All providers play an important role. Repeated safer sleep conversations during the preconception, pregnancy and postpartum periods can help health-care providers support families in making informed choices regarding their infant's sleep practices.
- Breast/chest feeding is a protective factor for sudden, unexpected infant death during sleep regardless of sleep arrangement.
- Swaddling is an unsafe sleep practice that may increase the risk of overheating and may increase the risk of sudden, unexpected infant death during sleep, chest infections and development/exacerbation of hip dysplasia.
Honouring Our Babies Safer Sleep Toolkit: Facilitator Guide and Cards 3rd Edition 2023 includes important information and recommendations on how to facilitate conversations with Indigenous parents/caregivers on safer sleep options. It encourages informed shared decision making on safer sleep with a focus on the strengths of Indigenous knowledge, cultural values and practices using a two-eyed seeing approach. The refreshed toolkit has a number of updates and key alignments:
- It was informed by Indigenous family members, Elders, and a variety of health-care providers including midwives, registered nurses, birth workers and Doulas.
- It is an update from the Honouring Our Babies: Safe Sleep Cards: Facilitator Guide 2017.
- It aligns with PSBC's Safer Infant Sleep resource, which was updated in 2022.
- It aligns with best practice recommendations and current clinical guidelines.
- It provides key messages for infants at increased risk of sleep-related infant death.
- It consists of 21 illustrated cards, four of which have been newly developed, and a facilitator's guide.
Health-care providers are in a position to help guide and coach new parents when it comes to topics like safer sleep practices. With that in mind, the toolkit is intended to support providers in their discussions with Indigenous families during the preconception, pregnancy and postpartum period. The toolkit encourages providers to use a harm-reduction approach that is person and family centred, trauma informed and culturally safe.
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To help support your conversations with parents and caregivers use the toolkit in combination with:
PSBC respectfully acknowledge the 'Honouring Our Babies: Safer Sleep' toolkit was originally an initiative of the Tripartite First Nations and Aboriginal Maternal and Child Health Strategy Area, led by Perinatal Services BC. This toolkit was developed by the Aboriginal Safe Sleep Working Group, whose membership included First Nations partners, federal and provincial government representatives as well as content matter experts. The mandate of this project is to develop and update culturally appropriate safer sleep information and tools for Indigenous peoples that could be incorporated into existing programs and services.
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