Thursday, 23 May 2013

Co-sleeping and why I'll still continue

Many people have probably seen some articles about co-sleeping cropping up again this week which has raised much debate between some parents and 'officials'.

I must admit when I was pregnant with Alex there was nothing more that put me off than sharing a bed with my child, I liked my own personal space, I liked my sleep, I liked my sleep to be interrupted  But then Alex came along and all that went out the window and my thought completely flipped turned over.

In the first weeks of Alex's life we really struggled getting him to sleep, James was fantastic with him and did most of the co-sleeping in the first 2 weeks as I really struggled coping with lack of sleep and energy and adjusting to all the new changes with all the hormones that come with having a new born. I'm ashamed that a lot of this co-sleeping however actually happened on the sofa, which is one of the most dangerous things to do, James did stay awake for a lot of the night but did drop off, I hated it, but it was the only way that Alex slept, and I would never let the same thing happen again. I think I know a lot more of the dangers and risks involved with that type of co-sleeping.

Once James went back to work though I was properly on night time feeds, although I did breastfeed Alex I also bottle fed him too as struggled with the latch (and in hindsight probably gave in too quickly to give it a proper go), I used to sit up in bed and feed Alex either way, breastfeeding especially made me really tired and I did fall asleep sat up whilst feeding him a few times, the second I would wake would leave me feeling guilty, panicky, and worried-what if I'd had smothered him!?

Once he got bigger I found feeding him lying down in bed much better, we'd both sleep much quicker and both be more comfortable. I would move my pillows over to one side  he'd stay cupped in my arms on top of the duvet (if I had that on me), and I'd keep him well over on my side (as James is more of a heavy sleeper, and of rugby styled build)! I'd often put him in his cot, sometimes straight after he'd been fed, sometimes after waking up with him next to me after a few hours. He moved into into his own room at 4 1/2 months, but often had part of the night with us, especially though the teething stages and if he was ever under the weather. Now he's 3 and I can't honestly remember the last time he snuck in, but think it was about this sort of time last year!

Then in December Sam arrived and we had another non-sleeper unless being cuddled! This time though I embraced it a bit more though, although I was struggling with breastfeeding I stuck at it a bit more. This meant I was in full control of the night times as James couldn't (obviously) help out. Sam slept on his tummy on me, or cupped in my arms as I slept on my side. I'm not going to lie, I found it very scary, I read articles, I did more research on how to safely co-sleep, it's quite sad to see how much there is against it when it's a practise that has been used for many years.  The articles didn't fill me with much confidence but I continued with co-sleeping, it was the only way I ever got any sleep as, as soon as I put him on his back in the crib he's wake and scream for as long as it took you to pick him up (despite trying to leave him). he's much better at sleeping in his cot now, it took a long time, in fact it's only the last month he's starting sleeping properly in the day on his own. He often still wakes in the night and now I naturally lie on my side and feed him, it feels more natural to do this.

So despite the report I will continue to partly co-sleep, if I didn't there'd probably be more chance of me falling asleep in a chair with the baby and potentially endangering them still scares me, I never sleep properly, but then maybe that is me being physically aware of him being there and making sure I am not smothering him/rolled on him/he's too hot etc.

I wish there was more guidance on how to safely co-sleep rather than all the scary stories and reports, especially as lots of these studies and reports aren't clear in the fact that co-sleeping in these reports also includes falling asleep on chairs/sofas which have the highest percentage of harming the child.

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