Thursday, July 21, 2011

My thoughts on "SIDS" prevention

I'm sure I'm not alone in how I feel, I'm sure that there are many other parents who have lost children to SIDS that feel the same way about the prevention campaigns.  They are not what they seem.  Nor are they what they intend to be.

Since the beginning of the "back to sleep" campaign, many counties have done away with using "SIDS" as a cause of death.  For a while, this really bothered me.  I realize now, it didn't bother me because of it not being used, it bothered me because it skews what the "back to sleep" campaign has really accomplished.

For me, SIDS is not a cause of death.  How could the cause of death be Sudden Infant Death?  How does that even make sense?  The cause of death cannot be death.  It just can't be.  And no matter how desperately I search and search for answers to find a cause, I am slowly coming to terms that sometimes, no matter how much we want something, or how much we love something, or what we would do for something, we don't get to keep it.  We could have done everything right (and in my opinion we did and then some) and Matthew could have still died.  He would still be gone.

Back to sleep?  Check.  Breastfeed?  Check.  No smoking?  Check.  Circulating fan?  Check.  No over bundling?  Check.  Sleep close to parents?  Check.  Make it to 39 weeks.  Sorry, we didn't get that one.  :(  But, babies are born earlier than 33 weeks all the time and survive past a year and live long, fun filled lives.

How can we both preach that there are all these things that we can do to prevent SIDS and also be told there is nothing we can do to stop it?  What if we reduce all the risks and our risks are 0 and our baby still dies?  Then what.  What was the point?

I think instead of being called SIDS prevention tips, it should be tips for a healthy baby.  Keeping lots of stuffed animals out of the bed won't prevent SIDS, but it will prevent suffocation.  Same with those who say they know someone whose baby died from SIDS after they rolled over on them in their sleep.  Again, that is not SIDS, it is suffocation.  Not smoking around a baby equals a healthier baby.  One with stronger lungs, fewer respiratory infections and therefore fewer risks of death in general.

I think it's important for parents to be given guidelines on basic newborn safety and ways to prevent suffocation, I just hate that it is marketed as SIDS prevention.  SIDS does not equal suffocation.  SIDS does not have any rhyme or reason.  SIDS is the complete shutdown of all systems, an infant cannot be resuscitated from SIDS.

The simple, painful truth is, sometimes, very loved, wanted and well cared for babies die suddenly, without a reason and leave behind a forever grieving family.

3 comments:

Lindsay said...

I get very frustrated with the SIDS prevention campaigns as well. Like you, I get frustrated when their prevention tips are linked more towards avoiding suffocation when SIDS is NOT suffocation. It's all based on theory...not fact...and it makes me angry when they go to these new parents (sometimes young and uneducated) and give them this list of "things you should do" to prevent SIDS...almost like, if you do all of these things, your baby won't die. Well, I followed the tips. Like you, we did everything right. And it still happened. I just wish they'd also put something else into the campaign that says, "Even if you do all of these things, there is still a chance of SIDS. We don't know any more than we knew 100 years ago. But these are tips for keeping your child safe and avoiding dangerous situations."

Wish we had an answer....you're right SIDS is not a cause of death. I've had to come to terms with the fact that I'll never know. And sometimes that's incredibly hard...

ASHLEY ELDER said...

Exactly, I get very frustrated that they even say "prevention" because it can't be prevented. I followed all the guidelines (except he was born before 39 weeks) and yet he still died. I went above and beyond what they say to keep my children safe, I even checked on him 15 minutes earlier and he is still gone. I did everything right and still here I sit...empty arms and without my baby.

Rebecca said...

YES! I say these things all the time. Very often, SIDS gets confused with accidental suffocation. They're not the same thing! I get sooo annoyed by this. We also did everything right and still ended up with the death of our son. It's frustrating. Lately, I have noticed that some of the swaddling blanket ads have been popping up on my Facebook page. They infuriate me with their claims of "reducing SIDS." In fact, I have refused to buy any products that make such claims.