Monday, October 27, 2008

Some thoughts on Co-sleeping

I've been meaning to blog on co-sleeping, or the family bed, for quite some time. Other than a single mention back in June, I don't think I have ever written outright about co-sleeping and our decision on this blog. I allude to it on numerous occasions, but never discuss. I'm not sure why, as I believe firmly in the benefits-- as much as I do on nursing or anything else I blog about-- and am not ashamed that my son shares our bed...or rather his bed these days (more on that later). Anyway, Christina wrote a bit about co-sleeping on Mamas Worldwide, so I thought I'd give it a go.

We stumbled upon co-sleeping, and quite honestly, it was first done at the urging our my midwife. I have since learned that many of my friends from co-sleep. Some stumbled in to it. Others have always done it.

Anyway, the midwife encouraged me to bring the baby to bed, so often times I would sleep on the couch while Kevin was in the bed, because he was afraid of rolling on the baby. No matter how tired I was, I never once rolled on to my baby, and I was keenly aware of his presence. As time passed, he would sleep some in his crib and some with me in a smaller bed. When we came to the US, we gave in to the pressures and tried to transfer him to a crib. It was a miserable experience that I would never do again.

Then Kevin left to play overseas leaving me alone in the US with an infant that had no one else to lean on (save for a few friends who would give me breaks). At the same time, I was starting him in daycare, and I was going back to work. He needed me more than ever, and with his sleep schedule (12 plus hours total), we reconnected through night-time parenting (i.e. co-sleeping and reverse cycling).

By the time Kevin came home in November of 2007 (The Boy was 11 months), we were a full-time co-sleeping family. All three of us were in one bed without a problem. Kevin left again, and The Boy and I were once again alone in bed.

I thought I would try transitioning The Boy to a bed in May (18 months old), but with Kevin coming home, it failed miserably! The change in sleep arrangement, plus adding daddy back in to the equation was too much, so back to co-sleeping we went. However, now, I sleep with The Boy most of the night and Kevin in the king sized bed in our room.

It works for us. Without co-sleeping, I don't know how I could have gone back to work (successfully anyway) and continued to nurse so long. I love it. I realize it is not for everyone, but it is for us. It might be for you too... if you open your mind to it.

There are a lot of reasons to co-sleep, but for now, I'll leaving you with the words of the Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative, "bed-sharing encourages intimate contact between mother and baby, which facilitates a close and loving bond. Successful breastfeeding and better sleep are more common among mothers and babies who share the same bed. Evidence suggests that bed-sharing is common among parents with new babies both in hospital and at home."


Rebecca said...

I heard a mama say once that we never roll out of bed at night. Why not? Because we know, even while asleep, where the edge of the bed is. She says it is the same with parents and their babies. They know, even while asleep, where their babies are and just like they don't roll out of bed, they don't roll onto their babies.

We humans are pretty smart, aren't we? Sometimes I don't think we give ourselves enough credit.

Maria said...

Exactly. Plus The Boy had apnea pretty bad, so I actually slept better with him near me, so I could rouse him if he were to go longer than 10 seconds or so without a breath. It didn't happen often, and it almost never happens now his adenoids are out, but I would have gone insane trying to sleep two or three rooms away!

Carol said...

I SOOO agree! I only wish I hadn't been guilted out of this in the 80's, when mine were small...


McCool said...

Lil B-man and I co-sleep. With only a queen, the bed gets too crowded for my hubby, but sometimes, he and Bman co-sleep and I relish having the bed alone! Regardless, with my little one hitting almost 14 months, I too credit co-sleeping to our continued and strong nursing relationship. It is great to have him wake up so happy (which isn't always the case in teh crib - too much like a jail!) - he even wakes up happy and comes to find me if I am already awake.

You are right - you always know where your little one is - just a sixth sense, an awareness - like how Rebecca mentioned the end of the bed!

Sleep on co-sleeping mommies!

Bethany said...

I loved co-sleeping. We had to stop so I could get some studying done in the evening, but we still nap together (and when he isn't feeling well). I did kick DH out of the bed! I also agree you know your baby is next to you, you just don't roll over on them. I love listening to the noises he makes when he sleeps, now I turn the monitor up REALLY loud so I can hear.

Anja said...

Hi Maria,

a little bit off topic but:
I used to love co-sleeping with my mom until I was a teen.
Until this very day I am so grateful to my parents for allowing that because it meant so much closeness for my parents and myself even until today.
Unfortunately, I was not able to have a child myself. But if I had a child, I know I would have definitely done it the same way.

Greetings from Germany


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