Taranaki families offered safer sleeping spaces for their pepi

14 August 2013

The pepi-pod portable safe sleep programme has come to Taranaki to provide safe sleep spaces for babies and educate families on safe sleeping, smokefree homes and breastfeeding.

Taranaki DHB safe sleep champion and pepi-pod coordinator Merry Sorensen said “Pepi-Pods provide a safe sleep space to babies at higher risk of accidental suffocation including babies that sleep in an adult’s bed, couch or in makeshift situations.”

Each family eligible receives a pepi-pod sleep space equipped with cover, mattress and bedding, and education on how to use it. “We also do a two week follow up to ensure that the family are happy and using the pepi-pod in the best way possible,” said Mrs Sorensen.

The Taranaki Maternity Quality Committee and Midland Maternity Action group has been working together formulating a regional safe sleep policy and implementing the pepi-pod safe sleep programme to all Midland regional DHB’s to try to improve the Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) rates.

Studies tell us babies that are Maori, born to mothers under 20 years, exposed to any smoking in pregnancy, drug or alcohol abuse, are premature (less than 36 weeks gestation), or of low birth weight (less than 2500gm) and live in high deprivation areas are most at risk.

In Taranaki during the period 2002-2011, there were 19 deaths from SUDI: 16 of these were Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Taranaki will have 184 pepi-pods in total said Clinical Services Manager, Maternal and Child Health Leigh Cleland. “These will be distributed according to need and in correlation with Maori whanau per capita within Taranaki. It would be expected that more would be distributed in the South Taranaki region as there are more Maori families there, and they will be gifted to Whanau on the understanding that they will pass on the safe sleep messages and pod to other family members to use for safe sleep practice,” she said.

In addition to our pepi-pod programme coordinator there are four trained pepi-pod distributers throughout Taranaki who distribute and educate the families/whanau who meet the criteria for the programme.

The tamariki ora teams, maori health workers, lead maternity carer's, hospital midwives, neonatal unit and children and young people ward are all linked into Taranaki's referral and distribution process. Taranaki DHB is also looking at forming relationships with raranga weavers to be able to offer whanau the sister of the Pepi-Pod, the “Wahakura”.


For more information please call
Sue Carrington
Media Advisor
021 367 789

Additional information

From http://www.changeforourchildren.co.nz/pepi-pod

What is a Pepi-Pod?
Pepi means baby in Maori and pod is symbolic of protection in nature. A pepi-pod sleep space is a general purpose storage box that converts to a baby sized bed with the addition of an attractive cover, fitting mattress and bedding.

The pepi-pod programme was  originally introduced by “Change for our Children” following the Christchurch earthquakes, for parents wanting safe places close by for their babies to sleep in during the quakes and aftermath period.

Who are they for?
Pepi-pods are not for all babies. They are a public health solution to the increased risk of sudden infant death for certain babies in certain conditions. The babies to benefit from pepi-pods are those with a weakened drive to breathe due to smoking in pregnancy, being premature, a low birth weight, formula fed or for some other reason. Such babies have a weakened 'wake-up' response relative to other babies. They are slow to detect danger when oxygen levels reduce. 

Pepi-pods are only available from accredited agencies who accept the terms and conditions of distribution to families. They are heavily subsidised and, for this reason, cannot be made available to the public generally.

What is the Pepi-Pod® programme?
The pepi-pod is central to a comprehensive programme of education and support. There are three key components to the programme. The sleep space enables, the safety briefing informs and the expectation that recipients help spread safe sleep awareness empowers.

Close and safe
Babies have a compelling need to be close to a parent, especially when they settle for sleep. Like its sister, the wahakura, the pepi-pod enables babies to be close and safe when in, or on, an adult bed, on a couch, in makeshift settings and when away from home. The pepi-pod is the safe space, but parents must also provide the safe care. This means 'face-up, face clear, smokefree' conditions, and 'in own baby bed if more vulnerable', every time and place a baby sleeps.             


Last updated: Monday, August 31, 2015

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