Monday, July 16, 2012

On Bedsharing

If you know me then you have probably figured out that my little one sleeps in bed with us for at least part of the night. Some people think I am crazy. Heck, before I had Liza I thought people were nuts for sleeping with their kids. I also had the misconception that it was super unsafe to have your baby in your bed, but that is another post for another day.

Source and a fabulous article to boot.

Today I want to share with you a little about our bedsharing journey.

 But first, the basics.

What is co-sleeping?

Co-sleeping does not mean that you are sleeping with your baby in your bed. It means that your baby is sleeping near you. Maybe in a bassinet or a co-sleeper. They are somewhere in their own space, but they are still close to mom. In the same room so that baby can hear the rhythms of mommy's breathing and so that mom can easily comfort baby.

What is bed-sharing?

Bed-sharing is when your baby sleeps right in your bed with you. In the curve of your arm and snuggled up against your chest. Best feeling ever. Especially as a new mom. Especially if you're breastfeeding. Especially if you are as paranoid as I was. I never thought I'd do it, but it worked for us.

Now, a little about me.

The night we brought Liza home from the hospital was the same night we ended up bringing her back to the children's hospital. I could not get her to eat and I was worried about dehydration. The on call doctor was worried that she might have a virus and sent us to the ER. We spent almost three days there watching our new baby get poked and tested and were thankfully sent home nice and healthy.

The days that followed consisted mostly of me nursing Liza. Like all brand new babies, she nursed a lot. I remember being so tired. And she slept. Unless I put her down. If I put her down, she would wake right up. I thought babies were supposed to be happy sleeping in their bassinets and swings.

Liza wasn't.

She needed me to hold her. When I put her down, she'd wake up. I tried the pack-n-play, the swing, the bassinet, the crib, the bouncy seat, everything we had. Nothing worked.

At night, I would always put her to sleep in the bassinet on the side of my bed and I would sleep with my hand on her chest. She'd wake, I'd feed her. I can remember sitting on my bed with the boppy nursing and then all of a sudden I'd wake up still sitting up holding Liza. It scared me. I was so worried that I would nod off while holding her and she would fall.

It seemed to me like no one believed me when I would talk about Liza not being a good sleeper. People would see me holding her during her naps and would say things like, "Why don't you put her down. You have to just let her cry." That didn't make sense to me and I felt like no one believed me. No one except for my sweet hubby. I thought I was doing something wrong. So, I went online for help and I found Dr. Sears.

Dr. Sears changed my life. He gave me sleep. He gave my baby sleep. He gave me my sanity back.
I will be forever grateful to him for sharing the story of his son, who was not a good sleeper. I read this article and cried.

It made me feel normal. I wasn't doing anything wrong, Liza just needed me a little more than some babies need their moms (when it comes to sleep).

I also learned from his wife about the side-laying nursing position. It seemed much safer for me to lay down and nurse Liza in the middle of the night. I figured that if I fell asleep nursing, we would both be laying down and there was no way I could accidentally drop her in my sleep.

This is how we began bedsharing. It was so much easier to have Liza sleep right up close to me. We all slept better and we developed such a natural rhythm that it was almost like we could sleep through our nursing sessions. It was amazing to feel how in-tuned to my little baby I was. I knew when she flinched or sighed and I could hear her breathing with me. It just seemed so natural. I could rest knowing that even in my sleep I was aware of her breathing.

Check out this article on Co-Sleeping. There are links in this article to some of Dr. Sears' more scientific research on how co-sleeping and/or bedsharing are not as horrible as our society would lead you to believe.Unlike those horrific ads that show babies in danger while in adult beds, it can be and should always, always  be done safely. 

I'll stop now before I go off on a tangent, but let me just say one more thing.

 Please know that this is just my experience. I am not trying to start a debate or tell you that the way you might do things is wrong. We're all just trying to do the best we can.

Here are two other helpful links:
SIDS Research
Infant Sleep Safety

Have you ever let your littles into your bed?

XOXO Sarah


  1. Great post! Good tone, lots of helpful links...
    Your experience with Liza sounds a lot like my experience with Elijah. I was open-minded to co-sleeping but not bed-sharing. There was no room in our tiny bedroom for a bassinet or co-sleeper next to our bed. So eventually I broke down and brought Elijah to bed for a good portion of the night. It was so much safer than nursing sitting up; as you said, I would often fall asleep and wake up startled!

  2. Also, I know what you mean about people not believing you about extraordinary cases. Elijah had colic; he had two bouts of it: one in the afternoon and one in the evening. This is when he just would not sleep no matter what, unless you were holding him and walking around, bouncing him and even then it was sporadic. Some people who did not visit just didn't get why we didn't go out with him. Some people who came to visit would of course hold and bounce him. The people willing to do that were few and far between!
    Weeks after he was born, Elijah's pediatrician finally diagnosed him with colic.

  3. My son didn't sleep for the first 7 months of his life. It turns out he had stomach issues, but he would fall asleep and wake up 45 minutes later all night long. For 7 months. I would end up bringing him in bed with us around 2am every night (he was beside us in his bassinet) because he went back to sleep easier when he was cuddled up to Mommy. Thanks for writing this! :)

  4. I knew from the get-go that I wanted Gwendolyn in the same room with us - it simplifies everything! Someone gave us a cradle, which fit nicely next to the side of the bed, but since the sides were higher than the bed and the mattress lower, I still had to get out of bed to reach inside. I naturally assumed the side-lay nursing position and ended up sleeping like that with my babies most of the time. We put both Gwen and Josiah in the crib after a few months but still brought them to bed with us much of the time.

    Unfortunately, so many of the good things that we can do for our babies/children are looked down upon (or at least the alternatives are glorified): breast-feeding, baby-wearing, co-sleeping, etc. We also - *gasp!* - put our babies to bed on their tummies. When that's the only way they'll sleep, you listen to them. Follow your instincts!

  5. I never officially bed-shared with E. When I nursed in the middle of the night, I always did the side-lay, allowing me to sleep. I would wake up after a little while and put her back in her bassinet. I was always so afraid of sharing my bed with her because I was so afraid of rolling over on her. We have a queen size bed and seemed too small for all 3 of us to fit in it. She and I did lots of naps together on the couch and in bed, but with my husband added into the mix, I was too nervous for her.
    Thanks for writing this, it's given me a new perspective on it! :)