Sleeping Like a Baby: An Investigation of Bed-Sharing, Co-Sleeping, and Breastfeeding among Pregnant Adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Jennifer Schindler-Ruwisch, Royette T. Dubar, Rosa Casale, Nicole K. Watkins, Vanessa Rubenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Given the lack of clarity in the literature related to the impact of breastfeeding intentions on sleeping practices, the current research aimed to investigate the relationship between co-sleeping or bed-sharing and breastfeeding intentions among a sample of pregnant adults, during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Materials and Methods: Pregnant adults from a large nationally representative sample, responded to a one-time, online Qualtrics survey between October and November 2020. Pregnant adults (n = 544) were asked closed and open-ended questions about their family characteristics, sociodemographic factors, sleeping and breastfeeding habits, and intentions. This protocol was approved by the Wesleyan University Institutional Review Board. Results: Bed-sharing (odds ratio [OR] = 2.47) and co-sleeping (OR = 3.52) intentions doubled and tripled, respectively, intentions to breastfeed at 3 months. Additionally, income at some higher levels (i.e., $150,000+/year) significantly increased breastfeeding intentions at 3 months compared with the lowest income category (OR = 5.74, p = 0.011). There was also a significant relationship between intentions to bed-share (OR = 2.96, p = 0.012) and co-sleep (OR = 3.62, p < 0.001) with breastfeeding at 6 months. Prior breastfeeding experience was significantly associated with breastfeeding intention at 6 months (OR = 1.88, p = 0.035). Based on the qualitative findings, breastfeeding ease was by far the most common motivation for co-sleeping or bed-sharing, followed by security/safety, closeness, and past experience. Conclusion: Plans to bed-share and co-sleep, significantly increased the odds of breastfeeding intentions up to 6 months postpartum. Supporting breastfeeding should include conversations about parent-infant sleeping modality, style, and preference. Future research is necessary to understand the directional impacts of these decisions and the predictive role of prenatal intentions on postpartum behaviors in this context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)678-687
Number of pages10
JournalBreastfeeding Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics
  • Health Policy
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery

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