Thursday, 19 March 2015

Why you shouldn't shoot down parents who co-sleep

Co-Sleeping Dun dun Dahhh. A taboo subject. Most mothers will happily tell you how they would never co-sleep. But after 4 months of being a mummy, I think that behind closed doors it is a different story.

I am going to be totally honest - When I was pregnant I thought co-sleeping was the most ridiculous thing. Forgetting the apparent 'safety' aspect, I thought Co-sleeping was for hippy mums who had attachment issues. I strongly believed if you let your baby sleep with you, you would end up with your 7 year old still sleeping in-between you, I thought it would affect marital relationships, cause the child psychological damage and was just plain silly. Oh how wrong the pre-baby me was.

If co-sleeping is done for the right reasons at the right time there is no reason why babies will struggle to be independent. We Co-Slept for 2 months and our little Freddie is an extremely confident, self assured little boy. He happily goes to other people and now sleeps in his own crib 90% of the time and naps in his room by himself during the day. Apart from the many occasions during the day where he is just so cute and squishy asleep in my arms I just sit and relish in the opportunity to cuddle him close for as long as he sleeps. I know these moments wont last forever and the dishes can wait.

So how did we end up co-sleeping? One thing nobody told me prior to being pregnant or until after the event is that teeny newborns want to be on you all the time, constantly on mummy's skin. He screamed until he was blue in the face if I put him down in his swing, pram, moses basket or cot. We tried everything, swaddling, warming it up every tip under the sun. He would.not.go.down.  If he wasn't physically close to me he was broken hearted which in turn caused me deep emotional upset. I couldn't bare to hear by tiny new baby to be so upset.

Why, as a society do we make mothers feel bad for keeping their babies close? Why do we tell new mothers they are 'spoiling' their baby with too much affection? Even baby wearing gets a good few eye rolls. Really? I do not believe you can spoil a new born baby.  And after comments about me always holding Freddie, that it was my issue not his and people making me feel like I was doing something wrong and that's why he wouldn't lie in his moses basket that I decided to do some research.

I discovered that it is only the western world that behaves like this with newborns. If Freddie was born in Africa or Asia he would be in a sling on me day and night, feeding when he wanted until he was at least two. Now I am not saying I would go that far, but can we really expect a baby to leave his cosseted, warm womb into this bright scary world and then leave him on his own in his crib? Because some one tells you its the right thing to do? Millions of women across the globe can't all be wrong.

Freddie would cry in his basket, a cry that made my heart hurt, when he did drift he would wake every half hour. After 2 weeks of no sleep (like none, like seriously I went 2 weeks with about an hours sleep a day) I was ill, ill from exhaustion, my recovery slowed down, I started to have problems with wound pain, my body ached and my baby was suffering. I couldn't be the mum I wanted to be in that state, so something had to give. I had to do what I needed to do for my family to survive.  I know that sounds dramatic but for those whose babies went through the same I am sure you remember my pain. I spent some time reading pro co-sleeping information on the internet and found a vital floor in the information regarding SIDS. (I am going to talk about babies dying here just to warn before you read on).

It says that Co-Sleeping increases the risk of SIDS because the baby may suffocate under loose bedding pillows etc or parents may roll onto their baby. Now correct me if I am wrong somewhere, but SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and apart from risk factors such as smoking there is no known cause. So if a baby dies in the parents bed because he has gone under the duvet or been rolled on, that baby has died of suffocation. Not SIDS as the cause is known.  There is other articles about babies dying in parents beds, read on and you will see that the parents were drunk or had been taking drugs and had smothered the baby by accident in their intoxicated state. Again not SIDS. A baby could die in your bed for no reason, but they die in cots for no reason too.

*I apologise if that was too much for some of you, but I feel I need to justify my reasons, I don't want people to think I didn't care about my child's safety*

After doing a lot of reading I realised if I removed the risk factors, Co-Sleeping can be safe. Neither Chris or I smoke, we don't really drink and if I was to have a random glass of wine I would not bring Freddie into our bed.  I made sure the duvet was folded down and tucked between my legs without possibility of it moving, it was miles away from bubba. I laid on my side with him in the crook of my arm and my arm acted as the barrier between Freddie and my one pillow. Freddie laid on the outside of the bed as I think that is safer than baby being in the middle of the parents, much harder to keep duvet, pillows and rolling dads away from them, his moses basket was pressed against the side of the bedframe so he couldn't fall anywhere. And that night we all slept for 4 hours.

My mummy brain never switches off and I was subconsciously aware of him all night, so perhaps it isn't deep quality sleep, but do you ever get that sort of sleep again once you become a mum? I knew he was safe, I could feel him breathing. It was the happiest I have ever been, I felt so close to my baby and I knew he felt secure and was peaceful at last.

As much as I loved it, I did it for Freddie not me and after a few nights Freddie spent the whole day calmer and happier. Bedtime turned into a happy experience.  I stopped torturing myself about why he wouldn't sleep in his basket and I know now that most babies go through this phase and other countries recognise it as the norm. I wish I had known, it would have made those first few weeks a dam sight happier.

I am not pro co-sleeping, but I am pro parenting and pro doing what is best for your child and your family. We need to stop treating those who decided to co-sleep or like me end up doing it as a last resort like they don't care about our babies. We care just as much as everyone else. I am extremely anxious and on edge about Freddie's safety and well being. I didn't make the decision because I wanted a few hours kip, my baby was unsettled and frightened away from his mummy and I had to do what was best for him and it just felt right.

And I am so glad we did. After about 8 weeks, we slowly started putting him in his basket during the day and very quickly he became very happy in his crib. He will now go down awake and goes off to sleep happily. He absolutely loves his crib and his cot, it is lovely to see. Considering the horrendous screaming nights we came from, I would say that was a job well done.

After about a month I became confident in our decision and started to become brave enough to tell other mums on the 'down-low' that we were co-sleeping and guess what... every single one of them admitted they had with their newborns too, because like us they ended up bringing them into their beds because what else could they do? This made me sad, why do we have to pretend and shy away because we don't have perfect babies who sleep in their moses baskets all night no problem.

It hasn't affected my relationship with Mr P, lets be honest in those first 8 weeks the most romantic thing you want from your partner is for him to do the next pooey nappy! We loved having Freddie in with us, it was very special and it wasn't long before we got our bed back.

Co-sleeping in future will be for poorly Fred, unsettled Fred and morning snuggles when daddy has gone to work. I don't want a 7 year old lying between us but I honestly don't see this happening.

I am no expert, please don't take this as rules, or suggestions or anything, each person, baby and family is different. But I used to be one of those co-sleeping judgers and I just had to put down into words our experience. I feel so much better for doing so and reassured we made the right decision. Because as parents all we do is worry.

So if you're sitting on the edge of your bed crying your eyes out because your baby just wont go down, and as much as you love them sitting up and holding them all night is physically and emotionally draining, I want you to know it is normal, your are not alone and babies need to be close to you. I wish someone had told me.

I think the best solution for baby number 2 in the far future is to buy a side sleeper cot!

Sorry for the ramble, and I sincerely hope I have not offended anyone, as I say in all my posts, I support all mums and all decisions, we are all different.

Thank you for reading, I would love to hear your thoughts on this?

2 comments:

  1. I wrote a blog post about co-sleeping, I was too against having baby in my bed when i was pregnant, but she soon ended up wriggling her way in, I couldn't deal with the constant crying every time i put her down. It would break my heart. Like you mentioned, people in other countries don't have the luxury of having moses baskets and such, there babies sleep with them. As long as it's done in a safe manor it's nothing to be ashamed of in my opinion. Emily is 6 months old, and happily sleeps in her cot now, and has her day naps in her cot. I do miss having her close to me sometimes, but it is nice to get your own space back :) xx
    This was my post if your intrested.. http://www.raisingemily.net/2015/01/co-sleeping.html
    Steph | www.raisingemily.net

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  2. Great post, I wish mums could just be honest with each other, as you say most mums have probably co-slept at some point! I never considered co sleeping before O was born, but he would not sleep without being beside me and having access to milk all night, so I went with it and co slept for 18 months. He would start the night in his bed and then come into ours. SIDS is actually reduced by co sleeping, only increased if a smoker or using drugs or heavily exhausted. The problem with most studies is that they include parents accidentally falling asleep with babies on sofas etc. in the co sleeping stats, which is completely different to planned co sleeping! We screwed A's cot onto our bed (3 sides) and he has that room to sleep in, but can easily crawl over to get milk during the night. It works for us! :) x

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