Before I even became pregnant with my baby girl, I had already starting researching. That’s just kind of what I do, no matter the subject. I research any topic that will have a bearing on my life whether in the moment or in the future. My mom is the same way so I come by it honestly. When I began researching infant sleep, I had no idea my daughter was going to be a high needs baby. It’s a good thing I had determined while pregnant that I was not going to expect my baby to sleep through the night. The research I had done on infant sleep was very beneficial in understanding why babies sleep the way they do and why it is best not to interfere with normal infant sleep.
I purchased an Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper (Affiliate Link) while pregnant. My plan was to have my baby co-sleep (which means baby and mom sleep in the same room but on a different sleep surface). This may work well for other babies. It did not for mine. Marcella made it known early on that she was not interested in sleeping separately from me. The first couple days were rough for a number of reasons. I was recovering from postpartum hemorrhage and two second degree tears which meant I could only sleep on my back and had to move very gingerly in bed and the blood loss had made me weak. Moving around a lot was not ideal. I don’t quite remember at what point I decided I would bedshare with my beautiful girl, but it was within that first week. Once I learned to nurse while lying on my side, we were golden!
I didn’t tell a lot of people at first. There seemed to be such a stigma attached with it. But, slowly, I did admit to people we were bedsharing with our baby girl. And I found out so were a lot of other people, if not the whole night, at least part of the night. And they all whispered it like it was some egregious parenting sin. As time went on, I gained more confidence and was bolder. I stopped making excuses for it and embraced it. I could see it was the ideal sleep scenario for us and realized that was what mattered. I had done the research to make sure we were safely bedsharing and came to find that not only was bedsharing safe, it was safer than crib sleeping. This is not a blanket endorsement that every mother/baby pair should share a sleeping space as there are certainly situations where this would be less than ideal, but it is a compelling one to at least explore the possibility of it as an option instead of the cultural norm of dismissing it abruptly as untenable.
What are some of the advantages of bedsharing and cosleeping?
- Stress hormones are lower
- Growth hormones are higher
- Sleep is more peaceful
- Physiology is more stable
- Risk of SIDS is lower
- Safer than crib sleeping
- Promotes long-term emotional health. 1
All of this information is well and good, but it’s a little dry and boring. I get that. What is it really like in the trenches? I’ll try to paint you a picture as I’m currently bedsharing with my son. I go to sleep with my sweet babe beside me. I can check in on him without moving. I simply open my eyes. I can’t be the only mom that just wants to see his rising chest or feel his warm breath to be assured he is well. When he needs to nurse, he starts to stir and I rouse. Our sleep cycles are in rhythm together so it’s rare that I’m awakened out of a deep sleep. He never has to cry because I immediately respond. He eats, he unlatches, he goes back to sleep. It’s effortless for us both. I love cuddling with my baby boy all night. I know how incredibly precious and sweet this vapor of these moments are. Those times are past with my daughter never to return. I don’t regret one single moment of those times I spent with her sleeping in the nook of my arm, sweaty head and all.
If you want to bedshare with your baby, know that it is a completely natural desire and most countries around the world wouldn’t even question it. Be safe and you can know with confidence you are creating a beautiful, nurturing environment for your baby. Sleep on, mama.
Shared at The Tuesday Baby Link-up
- Study results taken from The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Rest for the Whole Family by William Sears, Martha Sears, Robert Sears and James Sears. (Affiliate link) ↩