We have had a couple of our friends email us with concerns that they see pictures of Avery sleeping on her tummy, because they have heard from their pediatricians that babies should be sleeping on their backs to avoid SIDS.
That's a good question. Based on what the doctors have told us, and what I've read in the book about preemies that I mentioned in an earlier post, things are a little different for premature babies in the NICU and full-term babies sleeping in their cribs at home.
Here is a list of reasons that preemies in the NICU will be sleeping on their tummies a lot, at least initially:
-prone (on the tummy) is the position that helps preemies avoid gastroesophageal reflux (spitting up)
-prone is also the position that allows preemies to have the maximum airflow, which means more oxygen and less apnea
-preemies also sleep better on their stomachs, with more of what they call "quiet sleep" which is an important sign of maturation and brain development
-sleeping on their back before they have enough normal muscle tone ends up causing back problems, and possibly leg issues
-prone also is just what most preemies prefer, which allows them to rest at lower stress levels, conserving energy.
The risk of SIDS in the NICU is super low also because the babies' heartrate, breathing, and oxygen saturation are constantly monitored.
Once the baby goes home... the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the same thing as any other baby... sleep on your back unless otherwise directed by your pediatrician.
On a personal note...it's so cute to watch Avery because from the first day, whenever they rolled her on her back...she would squirm and cry and fuss. Then, even in mid-air, as they flipped her back on to her tummy...like a switch, her eyes would close, and she'd curl up like a little bug and get cozy again!
Man...it's stressful being a parent!