Bed-sharing, co-sleeping, the Family Bed, call it what you will. My family co-sleeps on a part-time basis. My son is put to sleep in his crib. He usually wakes up at 4 am to nurse. I take him from his crib and into my bed. He curls up next to me and nurses, and we fall asleep together. It is the best of both worlds: nursing and cuddling.
But, OMG you are going to smother your baby!!! No, I’m not. My son has his own blanket (swaddled) and I keep my own blankets below him. My knees are instinctively positioned under him, preventing him from scooting under covers. He sleeps on my arm, which stays around him preventing him from rolling off the bed. I am also a very light sleeper.
When Fletcher was born my in-laws made me very afraid of co-sleeping. I remember when he was a few days old, out of desperation and exhaustion I nursed him in bed and slept with him next to me. He wouldn’t stop crying and I just couldn’t find anything that worked besides cuddling. I mentioned it at the dinner table and the response was, “Oh, I did everything I could not to fall asleep with my kids. That is dangerous. You should never, ever do that again, no matter how tired you are.” Wah wah. So, for many weeks I would wake up every few hours, take my son into the living room where I could comfortably nurse with my nursing pillow, then after an hour of him nursing (this is when we had troubles and I had to use a shield), I would try to get him into his cradle without him waking. If he woke up, I could be up for quite some time.
It was probably two months before I started co-sleeping. The first time was a nap. We were both tired. I decided to give the side lying nursing position another shot. Previously, I had no success at it. This time, it worked. I laid on the bed, Fletcher nursed, and we both fell asleep. What an awesome feeling. I got to nap and so did he. I cannot describe how sleep deprived I was up until this point. The old adage, “Sleep when the baby sleeps” never worked because he only wanted to nap in my arms. And at night I was still nursing 4-6 times while having to stay awake.
That week, every time my son would wake up from his cradle, I would take him into my bed, into my arms, and nurse him into a peaceful slumber. From that point on I felt like a new woman. Why had I let other people’s opinions matter so much to me? Had I been doing this from the beginning I would have completely enjoyed my son, instead of resenting the fact that I had to wake up and nurse him all night.
To people who think co-sleeping can contribute to SIDS, please read this amazing article- Why Nighttime Breastfeeding and Bedsharing Is So Important- that is well researched and beautifully written. The arguments for co-sleeping make so much sense to me. I can’t think of a better way to wake up than seeing my son smiling and cuddled in my arms.