Pēpē-infant sleep practices and sudden unexpected death in infancy in Aotearoa New Zealand

Melanie MacFarlane*, John M.D. Thompson, Edwin A. Mitchell, Beverley Lawton, Elaine M. McLardy, Shelley D. Jonas, Gwen Tepania-Palmer, Tom Roa, Graham Warren, Tanisha Jowsey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To explore pēpē [infant] sleep practices and the key motivators among selected Māori and non-Māori māmā [mothers] in Auckland, New Zealand, in relation to the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI). Methods: Qualitative research underpinned by a kaupapa Māori cultural framework was undertaken. In-depth face-to-face interviews occurred in the homes of māmā with young pēpē born in Counties Manukau, Auckland. Interview transcripts were analyzed using general purpose thematic analysis. Results: Thirty māmā participated, including 17 Māori. Two-thirds of māmā reported previous or current bed sharing. The fundamental human need for adequate sleep motivated half the māmā in the present study, and especially Māori māmā, to bed share. The second most common reason given was closeness and convenience. This was followed by breastfeeding, which was cited as a reason by Māori māmā only. These findings were interpreted in terms of intrinsic fear, culture, and māmā deployment of knowledge. Conclusion: Service providers are encouraged to respond to the lived experiences and cultural realities, values, and beliefs of māmā when designing and delivering effective SUDI prevention interventions. Innovative approaches for providing structured and opportunistic, culturally appropriate education and support around safe sleep are likely to be well-received by māmā and their whānau [family/ies].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-317
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


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