Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cosleeping: What's Your Opinion?

I've been reading a fabulous book recommended by a friend called, "Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent" by Meredith F. Small.  (If you click on the link, it will take you to a fairly good book review.)

And as books often do, this one has got me thinking.

And I'm coming to you for your opinion.  Mainly, about cosleeping.

I'm frustrated that I have this fear of cosleeping.  Mainly, that I'm going to kill my baby, because that's what all the books and pediatricians and consumer health reports tell me.  But Meredith Small says that is unlikely, and that our babies biology is actually set up to cosleep.  That we can help teach them to sleep by following our sleeping rhythms like breathing and heartbeats.  This makes sense to me.  Still, and I quote my mother-in-law here, "I was raised..."

But the funny thing is I wasn't raised thinking cosleeping was bad.  In fact, (am I really about to share this information on the WWW?...) I slept with my parents until after I started school.  Eeek.

So it isn't that I've been raised to think cosleeping is bad.  It's that I'm a book worm, and the second I found out I was pregnant with numero uno five years 9 months ago, I started reading all the books I could get my hands on about babies.

And they all stressed a main theme about sleeping: do it separately.  Not just do it separately, but also how often and how much and when a baby should sleep was stressed as well.  And so when Cohen came along, I stressed about all those things.  "He's not sleeping like the book said he should...not as long, not as often, not when..."  and it was really hard as a new mom.

Of course, Cohen had medical problems that we didn't discover until he was 3 months, after which we had a whole new, fat, baby.  And by then, his internal sleeping habits were well on there way to developing just fine, with or without the help of books.  And, without cosleeping.

With Kembry, I let her lay in bed and nurse while I slept.  So many people have condemned me for this.  I'm not even kidding.  "You could've rolled over and killed her!"  Uh...not likely.  Not only do I sleep lighter with her next to me, so does she.  If I so much as tickled her arm, she'd squirm and squack.  But my milk supply was there and ready whenever she needed it.  It was easier for me.  I didn't notice when she was awake and when she was asleep as much* as I would have had she not been laying with me.  I didn't stress about the amount she received or when she received it.  And she did just fine.

*(Let me clarify: when I say "as much" I mean, I didn't wake up completely, making it really hard for me to fall back to sleep, which is something I have problem with.  I simply made myself available, almost still fully asleep.  It was nice.)

So, I've done both, sort of.  Kembry would go down in her bassinet next to my bed, alone, but ultimately wound up sleeping next to me.  Some nights I would put her back, some nights I wouldn't.  And we both survived.

Now I'm going to go all conspiracy theory on you.  I question the motive behind Western thinking, and why cosleeping seems almost condemnable.  Part of me questions why Consumer Safety and Health should have a say on the matter.  Possibly because if we did cosleep, we wouldn't buy cribs, bedding, mobiles, stuffed animals, etc., as often as we do now.  And let's face it, ours is a land of Planned Obsolescence (not that again, Kelly.  Yes, that again.)  But this doesn't seem to be a likely reason that the Pediatrics of America would agree that cosleeping is dangerous and bad.

I also feel like all the books and all the t.v. series and all the opinions we're getting befuddles our natural thinking.  If we were tabula rasa going into parenting, would we naturally cosleep?  I sort of think we would.  Would we naturally breast feed?  Um, yeah.  I think we'd see the streams and milk and the squawking baby with her opening mouth and put two and two together.  Would we stress about how much they ate?  Probably only if they weren't thriving.  Would we worry about how much they slept?  Probably not.

What about the other partner in bed?  Brett isn't too keen on cosleeping, but when I remind him about Kembry, he realizes he didn't even notice when she slept with us, and has to concede that it didn't bother him one iota.  As compared with having to get out of bed with Cohen, wake myself up, feed him, then come back to bed and try to go back to sleep.  Yeah, he noticed then as I tossed and turned and some nights just bawled because I couldn't go back to sleep.

And as I read more and more about it, I feel like cosleeping, at least for the first year, is the way to go.  It makes sense.  It feels right.  But the American in me cringes at the idea of rolling over on my baby, or suffocating her with my blankets and pillows, or missing out on "better" sleep which they say I would get or intamacy with my husband (yeah, because I'm so keen on middle of the night romps now).  I also don't dig the whole, "I need to sleep with mommy or I don't sleep at all," business.  Which is one of the reasons I think putting Kembry down alone, and then bringing her to bed with me, was a smart thing to do.

What do you think?  Don't be shy to share your opinion, I'm looking for honest thoughts and experiences.

Kelly Down

Here are some articles about this topic I've read thus far:

http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/sleep/cosleeping.html
http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/26/the-risks-of-sleeping-with-your-baby/ (I kind of scoff at this article)
http://www.nd.edu/~jmckenn1/lab/faq.html (This is more of a website with several different pieces of information on cosleeping.)
http://www.marchofdimes.com/pnhec/298_29656.asp (This is another one of those "scare you out of cosleeping "articles".  And who doesn't trust March of Dimes?  See, it's frustrating, all the mixed information we get...And again, why is CPSC giving it's opinion? "BUY MORE CRIBS!")

9 comments:

Josh and Shalae said...

Ok so I'm just going to give you my opinion on this whole co-sleeping thing. I don't really agree with it but I did nurse Brynlee in bed at night and sometimes (k most of the times) fell asleep with her next to me. I didn't sleep as well though. And as soon as I woke up I would put her back in her bassinet. I think the safety people come out with stuff like that because there have been incidences of people rolling over their babies and killing them while sleeping. I just heard of one a year ago or so. I think you should do what you feel is right for you and what works for you and baby. Good luck!

Three girls and a Daddy said...

I'm going to leave my 2 cents but know that I am a nursing fanatic, co-sleeping, all things natural kind of mom!
I co-slept with both of my babies and loved it! For me it is the most natural loving way to bond with your baby, and I think it is easier than having your baby down the hall. I can honestly say I was never sleep deprived or up in the middle of the night with my babies. It is a very personal choice and you have to be 100% comfortable with it before you decide to do it and yes people will look at you in shock and horror but you will not kill your baby or roll over on him/her, you will become one with your baby and for me I found that your baby naturally conforms to you and you to your baby! Yes I have heard of a baby being smothered but from the research I have done, most of those parents have taken pain pills or drank before going to bed NEVER co-sleep while taking a drug, even if taking cold medicine I would not co-sleep with my baby. Co-sleeping done in a safe environment has almost the same risk as SIDS. My love of co-sleeping and my desire to make it more socially acceptable compels me to rant just a little and I will try to keep it short:) but I do have to add that only in so called "developed civilizations" do we have our babies sleep by themselves. For thousands of years co-sleeping was the only way to sleep, its only in the past 200 years did we start putting our babies in their own rooms. I tend to view co-sleeping negativity is the same today as was breastfeeding in the the 1950's and now 60 years later we laugh and and are a little horrified that women were told formula was better for their babies and they automatically gave women drugs to "dry-up" so their milk would never come in. Would you take that kind of advice from a doctor today? I think co-sleeping done right in a environment with loving parents is the most natural thing thing in the world! My husband was not at all in support of co-sleeping till we had Jenna and we were so in love we didn't want her out of our sight for a moment and he slept fine and I slept fine. We did have cribs for our babies we used it for naps and we would usually put our babies to sleep in their crib first then when we went to bed would bring the baby with us, when we were ready to have the baby with us! My final thought is to follow your heart, whatever choice you make will be the right one, but try not to let the so called experts scare you out of doing something that feels right! Good luck deciding and I hope this helped a little!

makemommygosomethingsomething said...

Kelly I love you...

I work in a children's hospital and I've seen what could potentially happen when cosleeping is in place...rare, but I've seen it and it scared me enough to make the choice of leaving my son in the safety of his crib...but then we can get into how unsafe cribs can be with SIDS...yadda yadda...

Me personally, I would not cosleep. But I don't hate or judge people that do.

It's a choice just like breastfeeding.

Hugs for bringing up this topic!

I hope I didn't piss off the uterus.

K and T said...

So, I think that if you are comfortable with cosleeping, go for it. But, in my case, it scares me and since it scares me, I don't think that I could sleep very well. Kyson brought Wyatt in a couple of times and I just laid there, dozed a bit but never slept and when I went to return him to his crib, we had a happy little habit to break him from. I think, in my opinion, that putting Wyatt in his crib as soon as we got home from the hospital was the best choice for us. He sleeps great, we sleep great. Although, don't get me wrong, during those first months, I fell asleep many times while feeding him on the couch and I certainly love a good snuggle with my bug as he slumbers since he loves snuggling so much! Oh the choices we face as moms! I always say, "Do what YOU feel. You're the mom! No one else knows better than you even though they have so many ideas to share and insist upon you!"

Lindsay said...

I'm glad you brought it up! I remember thinking it seemed weird to have to force my son to sleep away from me when he was so tiny and so used to sleeping right in between us while he was in the womb! Weston would not nurse to save my life, so I just pumped for 8 long months, but if he would have, I'm sure he would have been right there in bed with me - it totally seems natural to me. I was watching "The Nativity Story" not long ago and it stuck out to me that when Elizabeth had her baby boy that he slept right along with both his parents. I assume that's the natural way of the past and I think you're right that our "developed country" seems to be confusing our natural actions. Crazy world, huh? And way too many things to worry about. To me, I say do what feels natural and safe to you, and if something should happen, then it was probably meant to happen anyway. As much as we probably hate it, nothing is really in our control anyway, right? That's just how I feel at least. That probably sounds awful, doesn't it? I mean we need to try and be safe and do the right thing for the kids, but if you feel like you're doing what's right, don't ignore that divine revelation that we mother's are priviledged to have! Okay, there's my opinion. Have a great day! Hope you don't hurt too much today! Hang in there!

Lindsay said...

Thank you for YOUR comment! I want to read that book, it sounds very interesting! And anytime Brett wants to bring your cute kiddos my way - I'd be thrilled! Thanks Kelly!

Carl and Steph said...

I also find I sleep lighter when baby is in bed with me. You know they have those middle of the bed sleeper things that are supposed to protect the baby more than without. Co-sleeping does make for conveinent nursing. I am not well versed on this subject. I say, as with most things, if it FEELS right, do it.

While you're at reading child care books, have you read "Child Of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense" by Ellyn Satter? It's WONDERFUL. After the feeding issues with Brady, it has been my "feeding bible."

The Hancuff's said...

as you know, i have very few strong opinions when it comes to this stuff. same with this one. maybe if i was good at nursing, this would seem natural. you'll know what to do. the good thing is, you don't have to decide right now, or even when the baby is here. just take it a day at a time and do what feels good. your "intuition" will help you.

happy thirty weeks.

Ryan & Hayley said...

My dad's a Funeral Director and all the memories I have as a child of his work are the ones when he came home and said, "A baby died today cause the mom smothered it while sleeping" or "A baby died today cause the dad rolled on top of it while sleeping" or "A baby died today from choking on a chip" or "A baby died today from choking on a hot dog." It scared me to death to never feed my babies/toddlers chips, round hot dog slices, and sleep with my babies. However, there were those nights when I was so tired I nursed while sleeping in bed. I usually put my babies back though because I like to sprawl out to sleep. I need my space. My sister, however, slept with her kids in bed every night. Sometimes there would be 2 or 3 kids sharing the bed during the night. (That's too many for me!) Just do what you feel comfortable with. You can do it as an experiment and then write a book about it. I'm just tired thinking about waking up every 2-3 hours to feed a baby. Good luck!

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