Wednesday, October 6, 2010

bed sharing- learning to trust my inner mama



When North was born he slept in a Moses basket beside our bed for the first 6 months of his life. Sometimes I would fall asleep with him nuzzled next to me in bed during a night time feed but this always made me a bit nervous, especially when he was younger. After 6 months of practice with North, co-sleeping with Indigo has become completely natural and normal. I trust myself and my instincts not to squash her, and I feel completely at ease with her in our bed. I can honestly say I am getting more sleep because she is in our bed more often. If I feel like stretching out during the night, or sleeping on my back, I simply move her to the basket beside my bed. I have noticed she actually sleeps much longer stretches when she is cozied up next to me, probably because she feels secure that all of her needs can be met, and she feels she is never alone- a very daunting feeling for a baby who has just come out having been attached to you for nine months straight. There is mounting evidence that co-sleeping, when done safely actually decreases the chances of SIDS. Studies have shown that when a baby and mother sleep face-to-face (a co-sleeping mother and baby will naturally sleep on their sides facing one another), the mother’s exhale (carbon dioxide) gently blows into the baby’s face which causes the baby to take a big breath in to fill herself with oxygen. Therefore, co-sleeping babies tend to hold their breath less often and for a shorter amount of time. Mothers and babies sleep in similar sleep cycles and a mother often goes into a lighter sleep a few minutes before the baby does, instinctively drawing the baby closer to her breast so the baby is able to latch on without even stirring.

Although some people worry that co-sleeping can cause nighttime problems for the future, this depends on a parent’s interpretation of the so-called “problems”. If you do not want your child to sleep in your bed by a certain age then you can gently transfer them to a new environment. I found North to be very adaptable until he was just over one, after that he became much more attached to his bedtime routine. As long as I kept a secure and comfortable bedtime routine in place, where he slept wasn’t much of an issue.

Even if you don’t want to make co-sleeping a habit, try it at least for the first couple weeks your baby is born. It will allow you to get some much needed rest after your delivery, it could help to establish a wonderful breastfeeding relationship (because the baby is able to suck for as long as possible, stimulating your milk supply), and it is a great introduction to your baby and her little personality, bodily cues and temperment. Finally, it has taught me to trust myself as a Mother and to do what I instinctively feel is right, instead of listening to old school western thoughts about how parenting should be done. Since Indigo was born I haven’t had to step out of my warm bed once during the night to answer a cry. And if she needs a change? I simply poke Brad on the shoulder and ask him to get up for a little bum bum bonding time. I mean, he needs to be involved too, right? Heaven.
(For guidelines to safe co-sleeping see here.)
xo

15 comments:

Mrs B said...

I had to laugh at "a little bum bum bonding time" :-) Such a beautiful expression. I think co-sleeping is great and regret we couldnt do it in the early days (Little B was in a full body harness for hip dysplasia).

But it was great early on and even now if he wakes during the night, I only have to lie next to him and he's asleep in 10 minutes. Sheer bliss!

Umatji said...

oh yep! If I wasn't co sleeping the amount my little bronchitis suffering boy wakes up would hvave been the death of me! At least this way I generally stay in bed if not asleep!

dixiebelle said...

We didn't co-sleep, I am just too light a sleeper & our babies/ kids always thought being in our bed meant play time!! There are times I wish we could have co-slept with our babies, and times now, I wish they'd stay in their own beds!

I say, do what works for you & your family, and if it stops working, then change it...

That is one gorgeous snuggly little sweetheart!

Erin said...

We didn't co-sleep w/ Haven, for she was always a very independent sleeper. But we did co-sleep with Ethan, for 2 years :) Co-sleeping truly does have many benefits!!! Contrary to what the media likes to report :(
Ethan woke a lot & nursed a lot at night, so sleeping in the same bed with him really helped this momma catch up on some much needed sleep. Luckily, my husband was on board w/ co-sleeping too, so that made things run even more smoothly within our family. At age 2, we transitioned Ethan to a bed, not a crib, but it was difficult and required a lot of patience on our part. All kids are different. Ethan was never a "good" sleeper. He still night wakes from time to time, is a very restless sleeper, has nightmares, wants a glass of water, etc. Many outsiders looking in, blamed Ethan's sleep "issues" on the fact that we co-slept, however, I firmly continue to stand by our decision to co-sleep with him those first 2 years & know in my heart of hearts that co-sleeping only helped with our situation rather then "caused" it. Being there for your child both day & night is so very important.
You're baby is simply precious :)

Jgee said...

Totally agree and by the look of that precious little lady she is quite happy co-sleeping with her Mama. I think done right, co sleeping is just beautiful. It is nurturing and cosy.

Kristi said...

i sleeped with both my babes, and the tranfer to their own beds was never an issue for us. when they were ready...they went. they asked to go. although they are usual found snuggled with us in the morning. i love it. they only stay little for so long.

Little Ted Canvas said...

You're right to trust your mama instinct, it's the most powerful tool you can ever use, always rely on it xx

One pair of Hands said...

My Nana once said she used to sleep with her babies - in the crook of her arm so she couldn't roll over easily was her method nearly 100 years ago.

twigandtoadstool said...

We still co-sleep with my now 7 yr old and soon to be 2 yr old...it just makes for a better sleep for us all! Those early days with a newborn in the bed are just so precious...if it's the one time that you allow yourself to co-sleep, then do it!!!
Oh...those pictures of your sweet little babe in the bed are just SO SO precious! I miss those days :(
xo maureen

Mama Gone Green said...

We coslept with our son Finn from the day he was born until he was almost 2. We got a lot of rolled eyes (especially from our families) but that time was so precious to me. I miss it dearly and am excited to cosleep with baby #2!!

earthboysblog said...

Your little babe is beautiful and it's so wonderful that you are co-sleeping. We still sleep with our babies, Sasha is almost 8 and Sania 5. I wouldn't have it any other way...

Ooty said...

I am with you =)
We have a baby little basket crib by my side for the begining of the night (this is before I go to bed) But when I go to bed she is with me (us =)).
I feel she sleeps better (AND SO DO I!!!!) and I have done the smae with my girl (6yrs now) and we have no bedding issues. I feel they learn to TRUST us parents by that. When she'll be ready (and so do I ) the change needs to be done right and slowly =)

(Is'nt it the best feeling to wake up beside this little person?=D)

Ellie Tat said...

I never planned on co-sleeping, but my son would not sleep any other way, so I gave in eventually. I am so glad I did. I would have missed out on such a wonderful experience if my little man hadn't been so stubborn about his preferred sleep settings.

radishandruth said...

it made me a tad cross to see the SA coroners report all over the news talking about co-sleeping being unsafe based on cases that didn't exactly fit 'co-sleeping' or safe sleeping. Lovely to read more positive words here that reassure us that is a good thing and that trusting your instincts about what you can or cannot do is ok.
We love having our sweetie in bed! But it has taken practice - a little more with each baby, and now this one will be lucky if we ever let her leave our bed. X

motherwho said...

What a beautiful post. I love hearing that your confidence has grown with your second baby. As you know I'm on my first and am in the middle of a tug of war... My lovely 7 month old wakes 2-3 times a night and my sleep stores are well and truly depleted! She slept right next to my bed until she was around 5 months and has since been in a cot at the end of our bed. Ever since the beginning she has spent time in and out of our bed during the night, and recently this time has increased and we are lying facing each other exactly as your post describes for most of the night. I am finding we are both getting a lot more sleep when she is in our bed, she is no longer waking at 5.45am but sleeping soundly until around 7 or 7.30am next to me. When we are together I wake up peaceful, not by the sounds of crying.

Typing this makes me wonder why I am questioning whether I am doing the right thing? I think it's the look that people give me when they catch on to the fact that we sleep with Nella a lot. Some people have blamed the fact she is 'still' waking at night on her being in our room and/or our bed. Others just give the disapproving 'uhuh'... hmmm...

You have given me more confidence to do what I feel is right for all of us...

xo

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