Natural Mom Tackles Taboo Topic: Co-sleeping
Of all the “taboo” choices parents make, co-sleeping with our babies or children seems to be the one we’re most nervous to admit. And yet, every time I reveal that I share my bed with my son, another mother will say to me, usually in a hushed tone, “Me too!”
I never planned to have a family bed. In fact, I was almost opposed to it. I just didn’t think it was the right sleeping situation for my family. I kept a cradle beside the bed, but most nights were spent with my son in my arms, rocking him in the rocking chair.
It wasn’t until Isaac was a couple of months old that I discovered the side-lying position for breastfeeding. I was exhausted, and it was only out of sheer desperation and the honest-to-goodness belief that there was no possible way I could sit up and nurse Isaac that I gave it a shot.
I lay down in the bed with him and napped for 30 minutes while Isaac nursed on one side, and then for another 15 minutes while he nursed on the other side.
Glory, hallelujah. I’d never breastfeed in a chair again.
This discovery also made my son’s frequent night nursing more tolerable. My son wasn’t (and still isn’t) a very good sleeper, and the concept of sleeping through the night was completely foreign to me. But, the first night that he slept in bed with me (we fell asleep together after he nursed), he slept for six hours straight. And not a moment too soon; that first full night of sleep came only two days before I was to return to work full-time. We’ve shared a bed ever since.
There have been times when I’ve wished my bed were still my own, but mostly I enjoy having Isaac close to me at night and the bond that we’ve created through co-sleeping. As a working mother, I don’t have as much time with my son as I’d like, and I appreciate the added time we have together at night.
Although I was concerned about the safety of co-sleeping, I felt that Isaac was safer in my bed than out of it, because if something were to happen, I’d know it instantly.
I also discovered by reading William and Martha Sears’ The Baby Book these benefits and suggestions for co-sleeping:
• Babies and mothers who co-sleep tend to sleep better because they’re comforted by one another’s presence. Co-sleeping makes breastfeeding easier and more convenient, and both baby and mother usually end up feeling more rested in the morning than they would otherwise.
• Keep baby next to mom, on the outside. Don’t let baby sleep in between mom and dad. Moms have an inherent instinct that keeps them from rolling over on their babies, and dads, frankly, don’t.
• To keep baby from rolling off the bed, install a bedrail (usually meant to keep toddlers from tumbling out of their new “big boy” or “big girl” beds) on the side of the bed on which mom and baby sleep. Because I’m a single mom and Isaac and I frequently swap sides of the bed, I have rails on both. It looks pretty funny, but it keeps my baby intact, which I like.
• Never, ever bring baby to bed with you if you’ve been drinking or taking any kind of drugs. You won’t wake up if you roll over onto your baby or if anything else happens to him or her.
• If you want baby close to you at night but don’t want him or her in your bed (which is perfectly fine, of course) try a co-sleeper, which attaches to the bed, keeping baby close and convenient but in his or her own sleeping space.