Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sleep Sweet Baby: Our Journey to Sharing Our Bed

When Esther was born, it was common knowledge (among the people I knew) that bedsharing was dangerous. I wasn't much into research at that point in my life and went with the flow. If you're a mom (or a human for that matter), you know that with each person comes a story, a bit of knowledge on what worked for them in different situations. And that they willingly (and without invitation!) hand over said information at any given point in time. So I was encouraged to let my baby cry it out. One friend guaranteed I'd thank her for it. When Esther was six months old, we'd feed her her bottle before bed time, kiss her good night and lay
Lydia and I
her in her crib. She cried. My heart broke and so did the husband's. But we followed instructions and did was we thought was right. Eventually, Esther did just go to sleep without crying. So maybe it did work. But at what cost, I wonder to this day. A friend told me that she had read that babies eventually stop crying when they lose all hope. I think of that often, unfortunately. But it is what fueled sleeping goals with our next child.

When Abigail was born, I was determined that things would be different. She spent about four months in her bassinet (until she could no longer fit into it) and we co-slept. For us, this meant that Abigail moved into her crib, which was in our room. She was not a real great sleeper, getting up several times a night, but I was so against letting her cry that it didn't matter to me. This option worked well for us for sure. I was so happy that our Abigail was still close to us when she needed something and rarely to never cried when she needed us. So she stayed in our room until she was about 15 months. We only moved her into her sister's room because she was having a real issue sleeping through the husband's alarm clock every morning. And it fixed the problem.

When I was pregnant with Lydia, I read more about bedsharing. I wasn't really looking for a change from Abigail's babyhood, but more education can never hurt. I also had quite a few friends who had successful and wonderful bed-sharing stories to share. I learned how many benefits there were for baby and mom. Almost too many to count, but I'll share a few that persuaded me.

Our crib is side car-ed, so we have some separate space
Bedsharing is great for mom's breast milk supply, since she produces the hormone prolactin which aids in milk production at night. Milk production has always been a huge concern for me, so this fact was pretty instrumental in persuading me. While I'm still supplementing this time around, my production for Lydia is definitely more than it was for Esther and Abigail.

Families who bedshare sleep better. I still remember the days of getting up out of bed several times a night with Abigail. The beauty of bedsharing is that you don't have to get up out of bed to sooth babe. She's right there! Abigail would have to actually start crying for me to wake up, Lydia stirs a little and I notice. She has probably cried in the middle of the night a total of three times in her short eight months being Earthside. I hear her stir, pull her close to nurse, and we all blissfully sleep through it! She wakes up and latches on like a pro. I literally have no idea how many times she's awake at night.

Babies who bedshare also seem to be safer, in my research. I've read countless stories of babies who stopped breathing in the middle of the night and, because babe was in the family bed, mom woke up right away to assist. Babies are also not great at regulating their own body temperature. Enter mom again - having babe in bed with his/her family helps this system get going.

My thoughts eight months in? I wouldn't have it any other way. We are all happily sleeping at night! 

Interested in learning more? Here are some of my favorite resources on the topic:

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