SIDS cases in Native American babies are 3 times that of Caucasian babies. It is the leading cause of death in all babies through their first year with the greatest chance occurring from 2 to 4 months. It’s very important to get the SIDS message out to pregnant women so they are aware of the risks to their newborns and what steps they can take to prevent it. Since the Back to Sleep Campaign the rate of SIDS cases in the USA has declined by 50%.
OB nurses at the hospital do talk about SIDS after delivery but women are worn out after giving birth, so it’s not the best time to receive new information. If the prenatal clinic could get women in for regular visits they could be educating them for the entire 9 months thus a greater chance of information being remembered and applied. Unfortunately this isn’t routine yet but by providing incentive “gifts” to be given out to women after their monthly checkups hopefully they will return the next month and thereafter. Becoming familiar with nurses at the clinic also gives women somewhere to go for support if they have problems and need advice.
It’s easy to say, “put the baby lying on his/her back in an approved crib with a firm mattress covered with a tight fitting sheet dressed in a sleep sack or an outfit appropriate for the season with no blankets or other items in the crib”, but reality on the Rez is that many women don’t have a crib for their babies and most will sleep with them in the communal family bed which is one of the risk factors for SIDS. Family members can roll over on a baby, babies can suffocate under blankets or get their face positioned in a certain way which causes rebreathing of carbon dioxide. Babies also sleep in car seats , another way that prevents babies from getting proper oxygenation as necks are weak at the young ages and babies heads fall forward preventing good air intake. A safe alternative needs to be found until a crib can be purchased, donated or lent to a parent. Babies should sleep in their parents room in their own bed .
Sleep sacks can cost anywhere from $20-$40 and plenty of families live in survival mode on the Rez so this would be a luxury item they can’t afford. Warm clothing for babies isn’t plentiful either so the natural thing to do is bundle them up with blankets while they sleep which we know isn’t the safest for newborns. South Dakota winters are cold as are many of the Rez houses due to insufficient insulation and the high cost of the energy that many can ill afford. If a blanket must be used following these guidelines would help prevent SIDS.
Sew For Kids would like your help in changing the statistics of SIDS on the Rez by sending new or nearly new sleep sacks in addition to seasonal clothing to nurses Debbie and Michelle to be used in their prenatal programs at the clinics. Our goal is to provide every newborn at least one sleep sack in Wanblee and Rosebud, that would be 10 to 15 each month for each reservation. Are you up for the challenge? I’ve been experimenting with different ways to make sleep sacks, stay tuned for my results, cost cutting ideas, ideas, etc…..