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At 7.30am her six-week-old was sleeping peacefully tucked up next to her in bed. By 8.30am her baby was dead.

“I still feel guilty for what happened. I know I shouldn’t have had her in bed with me.”

A young mother, torn apart by guilt over the death of her daughter, has vowed to never have another baby after her six-week-old daughter died while co-sleeping with her.

Sequioa Eddy
Sequioa Eddy, 18, says she is still haunted by her daughter’s death. (Facebook. )

Sequioa Eddy, 18, says she is still haunted by the morning in February when she woke to find her newborn baby, Nevaeh, dead alongside her.

The young mother from Christchurch in New Zealand was overcome with exhaustion when she took her baby into her own bed for the first time in February this year.

She told The New Zealand Herald that her daughter had her own bassinet and co-sleeping was a one off.

“It was just the first time I had slept with her. She was just a mummy’s girl and didn’t go to sleep without mum.”

“I woke up at 7.30 in the morning and she was still breathing, and then I woke up at 8.25am and she was dead. I woke up to her dead next to me.”

Ms Eddy, who fell pregnant at the age of 17, gave birth the same day her mother was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

While her mother battled the disease Ms Eddy cared for her three younger brothers, 13-year-old twins and an 11-year-old.

Tragically a week after the death of baby Nevaeh Ms Eddy’s mother died as well.

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“It’s been such a struggle to come to terms with this.

“I can’t change what happened … but I can’t stop wishing that I could. I sucked it all in and didn’t cry, I didn’t have time to. I do have my moments now and then.”

“She [her mother] died in my arms six days after my daughter. It was sad watching her be in so much pain and I couldn’t do anything.

Ms Eddy says when she woke up to her daughter’s lifeless body she tried to resuscitate her using CPR but she could not revive her.

Sequioa Eddy post

The Coroner yesterday released his findings into the baby’s death saying that it was a stark reminder of the risks of co-sleeping and a “classical summary of what ought not to have occurred”.

“It is hoped that the publicity provided to the circumstances of the death of baby Nevaeh will serve as a warning to others that the risks of co-sleeping are real.”

In Australia studies show that 80 per cent of babies spend some time co-sleeping in the first six months of life. In NSW alone 44 per cent of the 480 infants that died suddenly and unexpectedly in NSW since 2003 were infants that were co-sleeping.

In 2012 the Victorian coroner weighed into the co-sleeping debate, criticising the inconsistent advice that parents get about babies sleeping in the same bed as their parents.

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baby hand
80 percent  of babies spend some time co-sleeping in the first 6 months of life.

The coroner was looking into the deaths of four babies aged between 10 weeks and five months. All were the victims of sudden infant death syndrome, and all were in bed with at least one of their parents.

At the time researchers from the University of Queensland’s Centre for Mothers & Babies expressed their concerns about his findings.

QCMB Director Professor Sue Kruske said “It is not the act of bed sharing that is solely responsible for these deaths”.

“Rather it is other environmental factors that occur in combination with bed sharing.”

She said the vast majority of ‘co-sleeping deaths’ were in the context of other circumstances including smoking, alcohol and drug use and unsafe adult sleep environments.

“Prohibiting bed-sharing will actually lead to more harmful practices such as falling asleep with the baby on a couch, which is known to be dangerous, as well as increased cases of babies falling,” she said.

She said research showed many benefits for babies who bed-share safely with their parents, including improved breastfeeding duration rates, improved settling with reduced crying, more infant arousals which are protective for baby, and improved maternal sleep.

Whilst many co-sleeping advocates argue that it is a long held tradition in a variety of countries Dr Penny Gregory of the ACT Children and Young People Death Review Committee told the SMH that these countries with a history of apparently successful co-sleeping had very different sleeping arrangements from Australia.

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Sequioa Eddy 4
Nevaeh Eddy was six-weeks old when she died. (Facebook).

These included the bed being low and on the floor, or a hard surface, no pillows, or only small firm pillows, which could not smother an infant accidently. Similarly, blankets and bedding are small and thin.

Nevertheless the Australian Breastfeeding Association still advise that co-sleeping is beneficial for breastfeeding mothers stating that:

“Further protecting her baby, a breastfeeding co-sleeping mother usually adopts a position that facilitates close physical contact and observation of her baby. She tends to keep her baby at the level of her breast with an arm between her baby’s head and the pillow. She also instinctively bends her legs completing the protective space around the baby, making it impossible for another person to roll onto the baby without first coming into contact with her legs. Studies show more frequent arousals in both mothers and babies when they co-sleep, and some researchers have suggested that this may be protective against sudden unexpected infant deaths.”

Their recommendation does not extend towards formula fed babies.

In the months since the death of her daughter and mother Sequioa Eddy has been herself battling serious postnatal depression as well as fighting to regain custody of her three young brothers.

For her the loss of her daughter has changed the trajectory of her life at just 18-years of age.

“I don’t plan on having any kids at all after this.” She told The New Zealand Herald.

“The whole thing, I just can’t do it again,” she said.

“I can’t even hold a baby since I lost my daughter.”

For more information on co-sleeping:

SIDS and KIDS Safe Sleeping. 

Australian Breastfeeding Assosication. 

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