Prevent SIDS With a Heart Rate Monitor
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Congrats on having your first baby! It’s such a beautiful experience having your first child. Their adorable baby noises, their cute little feet, and the delighted smiles they reward you with really do liven up your life. There’s nothing quite like playing with your baby and hearing their tinkering laughter, or hearing them talk for the first time, or take their first stumbling steps.
They’re the most beautiful, perfect little human, and they look like you! The next few months – years, even – are going to be hectic and you were dreading them, but when you look into your baby’s big, innocent eyes for the first time, you know they’ll be worth it.
I know that feeling, ladies. It reminds me of Ron Weasley from Harry Potter, when he said: “You’re going to suffer, but you’re going to be happy about it.”
Although having your first child is an all-round wonderful experience, there are some scary sides to it, too. The one we’re talking about here is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In 2016, there were 3600 sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) in the United States. Of these, 1500 were due to SIDS. That is 38 out of every 100,000 infants that are born.
Scary? I sure think so.
What exactly is SIDS?
According to Wikipedia, “Sudden infant death syndrome, also known as cot death or crib death, is the sudden unexplained death of a child less than one year of age.”
The National Institute of Health (NIH) website says: “SIDS is the leading cause of death among babies between 1 month and 1 year of age. Most SIDS deaths occur in babies between 1 month and 4 months of age, and the majority (90%) of SIDS deaths occur before a baby reaches 6 months of age. However SIDS deaths can occur anytime during a baby's first year. SIDS is sometimes called "crib death" or "cot death" because it is associated with the timeframe when the baby is sleeping.”
There are no symptoms for SIDS. A perfectly healthy baby can succumb to it – which is what makes it so scary.
The news isn’t all bad, however. The occurrence of SIDS has steadily declined over time. In 1990, the toll was much higher – with 130.3 deaths per 100,000 live births. That is nearly 3.5 times the current number.
How to prevent SIDS?
Although the causes and prevention strategies are largely unknown, taking general precautions during your pregnancy and during the baby’s first year can help. This includes:
1. Not smoking or drinking much alcohol during your pregnancy, and after the baby is born. Do not allow others to smoke around your baby either.
2. Breastfeeding the baby regularly. Research has found that a longer duration of breastfeeding leads to a significant decrease in risk.
3. Keeping your baby warm, without getting too hot. Dress the baby in warm clothing that will keep him/her comfortable, while making sure it’s not enough to cause them to overheat. Try to avoid using blankets if possible – and opt for warm clothes instead.
4. Keeping the baby in your room (where you can keep a watch), and making sure the crib has a firm mattress, and is bare. Soft items such as blankets, soft toys or pillows can increase risk of suffocation, and must therefore be avoided.
5. Placing the baby on his or her back to sleep, so as to avoid risk of suffocation. It is important to start doing this so the baby gets used to sleeping in that position. If a baby accustomed to sleeping on his/her back is placed to sleep face-down, there is a very high risk of SIDS.
My experience using a baby monitor for SIDS
When I had my first baby, I took all the precautions possible. However, I was still anxious. I wanted to do everything possible to ensure that my precious little girl would be safe. The midwife I’d hired had seen SIDS happen to a baby, and recommended that I get a heart rate and breathing monitor to have some degree of control over it.
I looked through a few models, and then decided to get the Owlet Smart Sock.
Pros and cons of using a baby monitor
Now the thing about monitors is, although they track your baby’s stats and give your mind rest, they have their downsides – like everything else.
1. The very first problem I encountered was that they initially made me more anxious. I checked the stats every few minutes the way people check their email, and jumped if I saw a sudden rise or fall in any numbers. I made a lot of panicked calls to my doctor, and slowly learnt that some fluctuations are normal. Luckily the doctor was my friend, so I was able to get in touch quickly.
2. Another problem was that the sock would sometimes slip off, or get dislocated a little – and then I’d panic. The app sounded an alarm whenever this happened, and oh boy, my nerves were shot. Luckily my midwife figured out a way to secure it, so I only had to suffer that a couple of times.
Now for the pros:
1. The app was a simple little thing, and presented information well. I wasn’t given a whole lot of options to control or change, which was a good thing. Give me options, and I’ll get confused.
2. The second big reason why I liked it is because I was dead tired all the time. So when I went to sleep, I slept like a log. It happens, you know? You really do get dog-tired. So for maybe 5 hours each night, there was no way I could keep a watch on my baby. Without the monitor, I’d have died of worry, but since I had it, I knew I’d be woken up if something really was wrong. Once the sock was well secured and I got used to the app’s ways, I slept peacefully.
3. Speaking of the sock, it was pretty comfy. My girl seemed to have no issues with it once it was well-secured (we needed an extra Velcro strap for that because she liked to kick around a bit). It looks a bit suffocating and warm, but she didn’t seem to mind at all. That was a major plus!
If you bought a baby monitor, did it help allay your worries?
I see a lot of people complaining about the product’s price on Amazon, but does that really matter? Having a baby is expensive to begin with, and when you’ve racked up such expenses, what’s another few hundred if it helps ensure their safety? I got the monitor for $279, and I think it’s well worth the expense.