When our sweet baby girl was born, we struggled with establishing breastfeeding those first few days in the hospital. And I was actually kind of surprised by it. We had done everything that my breastfeeding books had told us were crucial to breastfeeding success- she was immediately placed on my chest right after birth; she nursed within the first 30 minutes. And our progress with nursing went steadily downhill from there. I knew the importance of skin-to-skin contact in assisting with breastfeeding, and fortunately my nurses did too. Even though there was a sign in every room on the Labor & Delivery floor that explicitly stated that babies were never permitted to sleep with their mothers in the hospital beds, my nurses encouraged it in our case. She needed the skin-to-skin cuddles and warmth. Many of our nursing sessions those first two days were spent with her crying and fussing, and me exasperated, stressed, and sobbing. But the hospital co-sleeping was helping. It was getting easier. And then we came home.
Carina is not the easy-going, self-soothing baby my son was. She is her own person, with her own temperament. And she often requires lots of snuggles, babywearing, and closeness. She may be what some would deem a high needs baby. I knew that just lying her down in a bassinet at night was not going to work with her. And honestly when I really thought about it, it made sense. She had been sleeping as close to me as any person other than my son had for the past 9 months. And now she was expected to just sleep by herself isolated without the warmth of her mother for the night? It did seem somewhat unreasonable, even slightly cruel to me. So, she slept with us that first night she came home with us from the hospital and she has every night since.
At first, I was leery to tell anyone that we were co-sleeping. Even to our pediatrician. I knew bedsharing has had a very bad rap lately. But I started to share more and more with friends about our choice to co-sleep and started finding that many of my friends who are parents, albeit in hushed tones, admitted to co-sleeping with their kids. I have received a few reactions of "aren't you afraid of rolling over on her?" or "are you afraid of suffocating her?". And quite frankly, no I am not.
Co-sleeping has been wonderful for us so far. Breastfeeding at night is amazingly easy and relaxing, and often we both fall asleep during it. If she has slept longer than usual (and of course this makes a mother worry), I don't have to get out of bed and creep across the hall. I just turn and touch her and know instantly that she is okay and can quickly fall back to sleep. My husband and I don't miss a single moment of her precious babyhood. Like that magical moment when she first wakes up in the morning with her smiling eyes and wide grins. Those early morning moments are my favorite of the entire day...
Lord knows there are nights when I wish that I actually had half of the bed again. Or that it wasn't necessary to wash the sheets at least twice a week because of baby spit up. But for now we are sharing our bed with our tiny daughter. We do have a plan to start weaning her to her bassinet (or probably her crib by then) by the time she is successfully rolling over & holding her head up. Baby girl is a notorious side and tummy sleeper, and I don't feel okay with leaving her to sleep by herself yet. But for now I will treasure our sleepy moments in the morning. The way she instinctively and effortlessly nurses when she is half asleep at 3 in the morning. Waking up in the middle of the night to feel her snuggled into my side and my heart melts. <3
Ready to co-sleep? Here are a few of my recommended essentials:
The Baby Sleep Book is a great resource for any parents considering co-sleeping. I ordered this book as soon as it was apparent that we would be co-sleeping with our daughter. The book contains strong research for the benefits of bed sharing, and tips to make sure you are co-sleeping safely.
The Baby Delight Snuggle Nest is great for parents who may be a little anxious or hesitant at first about co-sleeping.