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."