Saturday, 20 December 2014

Co-Sleeping, my story. The reality behind the controversy

Co-sleeping was something briefly mentioned at parenting class which was frowned upon and has lots of controversy surrounding it. I sat there and thought oh I'll never do that! 

Fast forward to a 2 week old baby who will only fall asleep in my arms. As soon as I gently transfer her to her moses basket and tip toe into bed BOOM she is awake. It was so cruel on my sanity, she would be asleep and I would stand there for 5 minutes staring over her thinking can I actually sleep? And just when you let yourself believe that you might get some sleep and settle into bed. It feels good and pull the duvet up she would wake up. It would be so depressing, I felt desperate. I spent the first couple of weeks breastfeeding her on the couch and holding her in my arms whilst she slept I unfortunately didn't.
She would fall asleep in her electric swing but no where else and you are not allowed to leave them to sleep in swings or car seats as it is bad for their posture.

When my husband went to work after 2 weeks I found myself resided to the couch when she woke so it didn't wake him up, as before I would sit up in bed and feed her but I felt like I couldn't. I was exhausted and found myself nodding off with her in my arms on the couch which is very dangerous and often how babies get suffocated. One night my husband suggested bringing her to bed. I think he meant for me to get her to sleep in bed and then put her in her basket next to the bed but I knew she when she did fall asleep so did I. The midwife at the hospital showed me the correct position for feeding my her whilst lied down in bed. On your side with your baby under your arm and one leg over the other so you physically cannot roll over onto your baby. My arm around her protects her from my husband if he came too close or if one of my cats jumped on the bed.
This night I slept and it was wonderful! The first night in a long time where I got a decent amount of uninterrupted sleep. I felt like a new person and it was definitely a turning point!

Yes me and my husband were scared that we would hurt her in some way but I am a light sleeper and would wake up at any sudden movement from my husband or cats. I made sure that the bed cover was only up to her chest which meant that the majority of my upper body was without cover and I am cold so I wait for her to finish feeding and then try to carefully lower myself under the cover.
Part of this is my fault and I was warned by my health visitor as she uses me as comfort. She doesn't have a dummy (and would spit it out when we tried) she doesn't always feed from me but suckles for comfort which is how she always falls asleep. At first I didn't mind as anything for peace and happiness, but now she is approaching 6 months old and we want to get her into her cot in her own room I will pay the price.
Co-Sleeping is so convenient as she can feed whenever she wants and we never get up in the night anymore. Also due to this she never wakes up as much as if I would put the light on and get up etc as that would make her wide awake and take a long time to settle. So now she might feed or suckle in the dark and more or less goes back to sleep straight away with no fuss.

I'm the news it is classed as dangerous but when you look at the figures the babies who sadly were smothered by parents it was due to them not following the correct guidelines and procedures they had drank alcohol, smoked or took medication before bed which is a no no. Co-Sleeping can be done safely but it was a last resort for me and my sanity as I did try her in her moses basket. I never wanted to cosleep. 

Co-sleeping does have positives and negatives like everything, here are my main ones:
Negatives:
*No husband cuddles
*I get a dead arm and mostly have to lie in a uncomfortable position.
* my sleep quality isn't very good as I'm so cautious.
* I've had a very bad back since having her and I blame this partly as it's uncomfortable and my back is cold.
* Now that she is bigger she takes up all the room as she likes to lie on her back with her arms spread out. She always loved this and would wake up in her basket as she touched the sides. Also she didn't like being swaddled and would wriggle her arms free.

Positives:
* I actually get some sleep even if it's not the best quality it is sleep!
* It's so easy to feed her and I don't have to get up in the night.
* I feel secure with her next to me as I know that she is settled, happy and safe. I love to gaze at her and listen to her breathing (sometimes snoring hehe).
* She settles quicker as babies are used to mums smell, warmth, heartbeat and breathing noises when they are growing inside you and she gets this comfort when she is cuddled next to me.
* If she does wake we both go back to sleep fairly quickly due to the hormones in breastfeeding.

If you look at other mammals they all sleep with their young, there is only us who doesn't so like breastfeeding it is the most natural thing to do.

If we do have another child I would not want to do it again but I would if I had to. You can buy a Co-Sleeping pod bed things which I would look into. It is a crib that adjusts in height that fixes to the side of my bed. It is very safe and the baby can feel like it's Co-sleeping and I would have the feeding convenience and them hopefully put them in there little bed pod, yet still have my own bed room. It's a great idea but they are expensive.

So Co-Sleeping goes hand in hand with breastfeeding and if you are thinking about it I would read the NICE guidelines. It is not for everyone but it can be done safely and happily.

Jodie x

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