September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month - Resources to Share

sbtfggwy.pngSeptember is Infant Mortality Awareness Month and childbirth educators should be sharing resources with their classes not only this month, but of course all year round. Many educators cover infant safety primarily during the newborn caring section of their childbirth classes. Consider spiraling your safety curriculum and instruction throughout your class, so families are learning and hearing information repeatedly. Families can also opt to take an additional CPR & Baby Safety class as well. This month is a time to raise awareness and educate parents and caregivers on practices that help all children reach their first birthday. It's not always possible to prevent or correct the reasons why some babies die in their first year, but there are many proven ways families can reduce their risks

Key Tips for Preventing Infant Deaths

Birth Defects

Start: taking daily folic acid if the pregnant person is not already doing so.

Stop: drinking, smoking, using drugs

Consider: prescription medication use -- find out which are safe during pregnancy

Watch: reduce risk of infections and exposure to dangerous environmental toxins

Learn more, get support: obesity is associated with an increased risk of birth defects; find a size-friendly provider to learn how to have a healthy pregnancy at any size

Preterm Labor and Premature Birth

Learn: the signs of preterm labor, and how to seek care

Know: encourage families to find out more about  personal and/or genetic risk factors for premature birth

Stop: smoking, drinking, using drugs

Reduce: stress

Consider: follow weight recommendations -- over or under can increase a pregnant person's risk

Watch: reduce risk of infections and exposure to dangerous environmental toxins

Treat: chronic health conditions


Prenatal Care

Start: before pregnancy with good, healthy pre-pregnancy/preconception care and habits

Don't: skip prenatal appointments

Learn: about prenatal care options for everyone, whether the pregnant person has health insurance, Medicaid, or is uninsured

Do: encourage pregnant people to bring a loved one to their appointments for support and company

Ask: the OB or midwife about reducing their personal risk of infant death


Safe Infant Sleep

Do: place baby on his/her back to sleep, every time

Don't: place any soft objects in baby's sleep area/crib, including fluffy or any loose bedding/blankets, pillows, soft toys or stuffed animals, and crib bumpers

Learn: as much as they can about safe infant sleep

Consider: breastfeeding to reduce their baby's risk of SIDS, and provide other health benefits

Use: a firm, flat sleep surface for baby

Stop: smoking during pregnancy, and smoking/allowing smoking around baby

Share:  room with baby, keeping baby close by but on a separate surface for sleep

Avoid: sleep positioners or products that claim to reduce SIDS 

Visit: the child's pediatrician for regular, routine well-child visits during the first year


Newborn Screening

Learn: late in the third trimester, talk to the health care provider about newborn screening after birth 

Do: follow up with their care providers about the results from their child's newborn screening 

Seek: any treatment/care recommended to address their child's diagnosis


Infant mortality is a scary and real danger for families around the world. The more families can learn about prevention and healthy care, the more families can increase the likelihood of a healthy and safe infant and baby throughout the first year! How do you cover these topics in your classes?



Safe Bed-Sharing

September 26, 2018 12:49 AM by Deborah L Amis, RN, LCCE, FACCE

Many believe that bed-sharing CAN be done safely. I hope Lamaze educators will review this Science and Sensibility blog: for a discussion of presenting both sides of this controversy and this recent commentary about risk factors and bed sharing:


Home Visitation: another option

October 4, 2018 09:52 AM by Catherine McWherter, LCCE

These are all excellent points to consider when teaching about infant mortality. I think a couple of relevant risk factors to be aware of, but may be more difficult to discuss in classes, are race and socioeconomic status.  We know that in the United States, non-Hispanic black babies are dying at rates disproportionate to other babies.  We also know that infants born to families of lower socioeconomic status are at higher risk of death.  One resource I am particularly passionate about spreading awareness of, is the impact that home visiting may have on improving outcomes such as infant mortality.  For example, The Nurse Family Partnership is an evidence-based, nurse-driven program that has demonstrated over a period of 40 years, that home visiting has improved infant, child and maternal mortality rates, in addition to a multitude of other benefits.  We also know that safe sleep environments can be assessed and teachin can take place via postpartum home visits, often available through public health departments and hospitals.

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