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My co-sleeping myths DEBUNKED

I wake with a start.  “Where’s the baby?” I cry out loud.

I look to left where he should be laying next to me.  Here’s not there.  Oh my God!

I look to my right, he’s not there either.  

I frantically search the rest of the bed under and on top of the doona.  The blankets are flying everywhere.

Oh my god, where is he.  Hubby must have rolled on him.

I push shove my husband over in his sleep.   “Where’s bubby” I say frantically.  

He groans.

Then I wake… for real this time.

I had been dreaming.  But I knew that everything I dreamt, I had done. Everything I dreamt I said, I had said.  

It was an all too familiar dream.  

co-sleeping myths

My anxiety around co-sleeping has been ingrained into me.  

My background is working with parents struggling with substance abuse addictions. Co-sleeping is heavily frowned upon and discouraged in my line of work.  For these babies the risk of SIDS due to co-sleeping was very high as the parents smoked and/or were drowsy from being highly medicated. There is ample research to back this up.  So of course, these children would be at greater risk than children whose parents didn’t fall into this category.

But I ignorantly felt this applied to all children.  It wasn’t until I became a mother did I realise my own ignorance.

I would see friends of mine post photographs on Facebook with their partners co-sleeping.  At the time, I thought “Oh my god, you’re putting your baby at risk.  Why would you do that?”  I just didn’t understand.

Ignorant little me….

After I had my baby, while I was still in hospital, the midwives encouraged me to have lay down feeds with my babe throughout the night.  They said this way I was able to get some sleep too.

I loved these lay down feeds as I felt so close to my baby, which is exactly what I wanted being a new mother.

I did this for several nights, but after I put bubby back into his bassinet I would wake up in panic mode I had rolled on him.  It was worse when hubby put bub back in his cot rather than me as I would wake up not being able to remember putting him back, which of course I didn’t, hubby did.

When we came home the nightmares continued.

 

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I can remember one dream where I sat straight up in bed and saw the pile of clothes breathing on the bed.  I thought bubby was underneath them struggling to breath.

Another time, I was sleeping during the day while hubby had bub in the other room, when I jumped out of bed, tore all the sheets off the bed then tore all of the sheets out of the bassinet trying to find bubby.  I rushed into the lounge room and found them playing happily together.  Hubby took one look at my frazzledness and said, ‘Go back to bed’. He knew what had happened.  I can just imagine my frizzy hair all a mess, stumbling through the door way, wearing a lopsided sloppy joe and track pants.  What a look!

I thought this anxiety was a normal part of being a new mother.  But then I realised, it was because of those lay down night feeds, the feeds I loved, that contributed to my worry.

The turning point for me started even before I gave birth, I just didn’t know it at the time.

During the last weeks of pregnancy we went to a SIDS Information Night held in Canberra.  We wanted advice about how to swaddle a baby safely, how to set up a cot to reduce the risks etc.  We learnt a lot.  But what really struck me was that they had information about ‘safe’ co-sleeping.  I thought at the time this was a major step forward for SIDS.  After all I had heard so many people say that they co-sleep with their babies but of course they didn’t do it safely as no one had shown them how.  So it seemed only natural that there should be information out there on how to do is safely – as people are going to do it anyway right?

Sharing a sleep surface with a baby is a complex issue that encompasses many factors, and there is currently insufficient evidence to issue a blanket statement either for or against this practice” (SIDS and Kids. National Scientific Advisory Group (NSAG), 2007)

Throughout the first few weeks of having bubby home I was able to pinpoint where my nightmares were coming from.  The times I didn’t do a lay down feed I had peaceful sleeps; the times I did, I would wake up panicking.

So I stopped doing them.

This is so disappoint for me because I loved being close to bub during those feeds, and I know that lay down feeds like this would do wonders for bubs attachment with me.  But, I had other ways to promote attachment, and got some of my sanity back with dreamless sleeps.

During this time I joined a lot of parenting pages on Facebook where many women talked about how co-sleeping with their babies has really helped them and their relationship.  How their children grow up to have wonderful ‘secure’ attachments to them, and how these children are very well adjusted little people.

There is a lot of negativiity around co-sleeping, and certainly I still believe it needs to be done safely. But when it is done safely, and the mother is comfortable doing it too, and the baby seems to be responding well to it, then why not do it?

So my journey of co-sleeping has been an interesting one.  I have gone from being completely against co-sleeping and being ignorant of the benefits, to accepting safe co-sleeping as a beautiful way to foster a relationship between child and parent.

It’s a shame I still can’t co-sleep with my little man though.  I would love to feel that closeness at night, to have those warm cuddles. Despite knowing all the benefits of co-sleeping and the safe way to go about it, I still don’t think I can ever co-sleep during the night, but I am very pleased that I am at least able to doze with him during the day, if only for a short time.

And most importantly, bub seems to respond well to me being so close to him.

*I deliberately haven’t written about what ‘safe’ co-sleeping looks like.  Rather, I encourage readers to contact their local SIDS service and discuss safe sleeping options.

Do you co-sleep with your baby? What do you enjoy most about it?

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About Lauren Jackman (159 Articles)
Lauren Jackman is the author of Canberra Mummy. A self-confessed perfectionist, Lauren writes about the truth about pregnancy and parenting for perfectionist mummies. Lauren is a mum, wife, author, runner and a not a bad cook

10 Comments on My co-sleeping myths DEBUNKED

  1. This is great. I had major anxieties about co-sleeping with my first child, but about 8 months in it became the norm. The second time round we did it until she was 8 months old, and now at 2 she won’t let anyone sleep next to her. Lol.

    I think we all go on our own journeys with parenting, and what is right for some is not right for others. I’m glad you followed your instincts the whole way through 🙂

  2. Good read. My son is now 8 months and I have never c0-slept with him. I am a super light sleeper and knew with him in the bed I would not really be able to relax. I would love to have those randoms cuddle sleep times, but getting some good rest is more important for me. He doesn’t know any different.
    You have to do what works for you. Some things sound a lot better in theory until you actually try it out and realise it’s not going to work.

    • That’s exactly what it has been like with us – trial and error. And yes, I think there comes a time for new mums where they have to put their sleep first.

  3. I co-sleep with Peanut and I love it. She has an elevated sleep platform thingy, so I’m at no risk of rolling onto her (although I tend to stay in one position for the night). I had a visit from the public health nurse last week and she was leery of our sleep arrangement, but it really works for us. Instead of protesting contrary to her advise, I merely nodded my head as she warned against it, and made a mental note to continue to do what feels right for us.

    • I think that’s key isn’t it Joanne. You need to do what feels right as a mum, providing your not putting bub at unnecessary risk of course. It must be great sleeping so close to Peanut x

  4. A lovely honest post. I co-sleep, and I love it. I panicked about it at first though. My parents for one thought it was very safe, but when I spoke to others who co-slept safely, I felt reassured. I had those nightmares you speak of a couple of times, but I find I am actually very aware of baby through the night. It’s a strange half-consciousness about her even though I am asleep.

  5. Thanks very interestіng blog!

  6. Thank you for sharing. I co-sleep and I often feel guilty about it. Your blog has help ease that anxiety a bit. I’m also a light sleeper, so I’m very aware of my baby throughout the night. Does that mean that I often don’t get a good night sleep, yes but it is all worth it. I love the closeness and the bond that I have with my baby.

    • Hi Katie, there’s something really special about co-sleeping with a baby. Now my eldest is a toddler and he jumps into our bed every morning for a snuggle. It’s picture perfect – apart from the leg kick to the head and big toe up the nostril from him!! haha

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