I bet you've heard that sleeping with your baby is dangerous, that you shouldn't do it. We've all seen the "Back to Sleep" campaign, which says the only safe place for your baby to sleep is flat on their back, in a crib. And you know what? For many, this is actually true, HOWEVER, it can be safe to sleep next to your baby if you follow ALL of the rules.......
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Co-sleep is an umbrella term for many forms of sleeping with your baby. Things that fall under co-sleep are, but are not limited to:
Despite what many people believe bedsharing, under the right conditions, can be SAFE. It is considered safe for non-smoking, breastfeeding mothers who are not obese to bedshare. How is bedsharing safe? Well, first let's go over a few myths involved in this subject.
Myth #1: Your baby will die of SIDS
First of all, SIDS and suffocation are two completely different demons. Secondly, your baby is actually significantly less at risk of SIDS if bedsharing, or any form of co-sleeping is practiced. Babies greatly benefit from hearing their mother’s rhythmic heartbeat and breathing throughout the night. Newborns are not unconscious breathers like we are. They need to think about it. Hearing you breath is a reminder, and also sets a pace for them.
Myth #2: You will roll over onto and crush your baby.
You will be surprised how well aware of your child you will be! It is completely natural for a breastfeeding mother to create a protective curl around their infant while they sleep, keeping them close to their body. Any time that baby stirs or makes a sound you will be in tune to them and wake. Many mothers find themselves actually waking just before their baby, only to then realize their baby was ready to nurse. Talk about hormonal chemistry! Obviously, there is an exception to this rule. If you are under the influence of over the counter or prescription drugs which may make you drowsy, DO NOT SLEEP WITH BABY. If you are under the influence of illicit drugs, alcohol, or are sleep deprived, DO NOT SLEEP WITH YOUR BABY. It should also be noted that ONLY the exclusively breastfeeding mother should sleep with her baby- not the father or anyone else.
Myth #3: You will never sleep again!
On the contrary. I sleep far better with my baby next to me in my bed than I ever have with him even at arm’s reach away from me, and so does he. I have peace of mind knowing that I can just open my eyes and not need to get up to check on him. Night nursing is a breeze too. I don’t even have to wake up to nurse him. I wear an easy access shirt and keep one breast exposed and he pops on and off as he pleases while I sleep! Research also supports this.
Myth #4: You will never get the baby out of your bed.
Fostering a secure independence begins with a healthy dependence. Part of this includes sleeping with or near your baby. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends co-sleeping for the first year of life. During the first few months, especially, having your baby in your bed will only help you all get more sleep. Newborns are also not designed to sleep alone, and when they are a bit older, and ready to sleep on their own, it will be much easier to do so when they are not nursing frequently through the night.
Myth #5: Bedsharing will destroy your sex life.
Have you seen the internet meme floating around that reads, “Co-sleepers do it in the kitchen!”? Well, it's true. Or in the bathroom, shower, on the couch, down the hall, etc. You get creative. I personally would resent being in a relationship where sex strictly had to take place in the bedroom or on a bed. How boring, right?
Now that we have gone over some myths, let's go over some do’s and don’ts of bedsharing.
The Do’s of Bedsharing:
The Don’ts of Bedsharing:
Mothers have been bedsharing for thousands of years, all over the world. It is an instinctive, primitive parenting technique. I hope someday the negative perception of bedsharing will change and it will be socially normal and accepted. The links provided are a few of my sources, though most all of this information I have committed to memory. Happy and safe Bedsharing everyone!
Kelly Maher, CLC, CLE
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