When you’re pregnant, or even before conceiving, we all have things we say won’t ever happen. For me, those things happened to be breastfeeding after teeth come in (or after they can communicate wanting the boob), letting them watch tv to distract them for a few minutes and never ever bed sharing.
I’ll admit it. At one point, I said all of these out loud.
Some of them, like the thoughts about breastfeeding, went away as soon as I conceived.
Others, like allowing tv to help me get things done around the house, went away as soon as I gave birth.
In hindsight, I just know whenever I had said this stuff to a mom she must’ve laughed to herself. Just like I laugh at women in my head who say the same stuff. Because, honestly, it’s bullshit.
We all have these opinions of what we will or will not do… But guess what?
As soon as you have your kid, what you once thought you would do completely changes. Because you’ll do just about anything to set your baby down without making him or her cry just so you can pee or change of your milk-stained (and sour breastmilk smelling) shirt.
On a somewhat different note –
We met with our pediatrician for the very first time at Max’s one week wellness check. He asked me a series of questions to make sure we were practicing “safe sleeping” – and he specifically asked if Max was sleeping in our bed. I told him we had him in a bassinet next to my side of the bed and he told me, “good job, mom.”
When it came to bed sharing, I was absolutely terrified. I was already scared to death of SIDS, so much so that sometimes I wouldn’t even sleep at all and I’d just watch him to make sure he was still breathing.
So, what did I do when my newborn would only sleep in my arms and would repeatedly wake if I tried to lay him down? We’d sleep together downstairs on the couch.
Several weeks went by of us sleeping there when I finally started researching bed sharing. It was actually when we had to travel to visit family and Max had no other choice but to sleep with us.
I was mortified to learn that I had put him at a higher risk of SIDS by sleeping on a couch.
By sleeping on the couch, he could have easily slumped into a cushion and not have been able to breathe. However, I will say I always slept on the inside, held onto him so he couldn’t move anywhere or fall off (our couch is HUGE) and kept him at my breast, but I was still so upset with myself. All of the “what ifs” really got to me and brought out the mom guilt.
After doing some more research, I learned that bed sharing isn’t as dangerous as most people think. It is individualized, if you will, in terms of risk. I’m not a smoker and never drink or do drugs, so it’s okay for us. It is absolutely possible to do it safely, it’s just important to know how to go about it.
Other important things to consider are the type of mattress (it needs to be firm – waterbeds are a big no-no), pillows/blankets/nearly everything should be kept away from baby’s face and there shouldn’t be any spots for baby to roll off or become trapped in a crevice. (And yes, I do realize he has a receiving blanket draped on him in the photo. We were napping in a living area so my parents were right there the entire time and were able to keep an eye on him.)
Also: I really do believe that bed sharing has helped our breastfeeding relationship tremendously. Do you want to know how many times I woke up last night with Max? Eight times.
Sure, I’m tired… But can you imagine how exhausted I would be if I had to get up and walk down the hall to a nursery each time instead of just exposing my breast for him to dream feed and nurse himself back to a deep sleep?
I know for a fact that so many more new moms think they’re doing something good by sleeping on the couch or in a recliner because there’s this stigma with bed sharing and it causing SIDS. But that isn’t necessarily true. If you’re curious about bed sharing, please do your research and make sure it’s the right fit for you and your baby. (And if you do decide to make the switch, remember that baby should always sleep on the side of the bed – not between you and your partner!)
At this point, I’m sure we could probably try putting Max in a crib if we really wanted to… but I honestly enjoy having him close to me throughout the night.
After having him right next to me for months and months, I’m not sure which one of us benefits from sharing a bed more! I get sweet baby snuggles all throughout the night and he gets constant access to a boob. Sounds like a win-win to me!
I’m curious — do you bed share? Why or why not?