I never intended on co-sleeping with Jacob, it just happened. One day my sweet angelic newborn baby was sleeping soundly in his cot and then 24 hours of hell later he was sleeping in my bed getting a never-ending supply of the good stuff. I suppose you could say, Jacob was rolling in it and I was potentially going to roll on him.
Co-sleeping has always had this really bad stigma attached to it because it has such a high risk of SIDS (Sudden Infants Death Syndrome). Wind back 15 months and I would have been reading atleast ten different pregnancy books and no doubt all of them would have said “DO NOT SLEEP WITH YOUR BABY”. I know that there are some people out there that are very strongly against co-sleeping and that’s okay. Each and every person is entitled to their own opinion, BUT I don’t think anyone should think that it is okay to force their views upon other people. In writing this post I am in no way saying that co-sleeping is the best sleeping method for a child, I am simply sharing my own experience. I believe that every mother has the right to decide how they bring up their children, co-sleeping or not, and you should do what feels comfortable for YOU and YOUR baby. At the end of the day, it is your baby and you can do whatever the hell you want.
Pre-baby I couldn’t even fathom why a parent would risk the safety of their child and I kept trying to question why someone would be so stupid to put their baby in their bed…but now I totally get it. I can’t even explain to you the sleep deprivation that you experience after having a baby. If I had to describe it in words it would be like spinning around one hundred times and trying to function in a constant state of dizziness. Even stringing a sentence together is bloody hard and somehow mankind expects you to look after this small human being. Jacob was about 10 weeks old when I decided to give co-sleeping a go. The adrenaline of the newborn phase had worn off and out of nowhere I was hit with this intense feeling of fatigue. I was running on zero energy, minimal hours of sleep and Jacob had been hysterically screaming in my face for hours on end. I barely had the energy to keep my eyes open during the night feeds and I was SO OVER sitting in a dark room rocking/shushing/patting for 1-2 hours to get him to sleep in his cot. No trick in the book would settle him and in that moment I realised that I would do ANYTHING to get an ounce of sleep…even if that meant co-sleeping.
That first night I put Jacob in our bed I was petrified. In all honesty, I was scared shitless that either me or Sean were going to smother him in his sleep. I was so scared that I thought of every tiny little detail and googled just about everything. Where do I put Jacob so that Sean doesn’t squish him? Do I lie on my side or on my back? Do I let my boobs flop to the side? Do I wear a bra? Do we share a blanket? What do I dress him in? I had no idea what the hell I was doing but I knew that whatever I did, I had to make sure that Jacob was not in harms way.
When we co-sleep with Jacob I create a safe zone so that there are no pillows or blankets near his face and my body suddenly becomes this protective human cocoon. I always lie on my side so that one of my arms stays above his head, my other arm is wrapped over his body holding the blanket down and my knees are hunched up under his feet. When you try to visualise this it probably looks very uncomfortable, but after a bit of practice it just becomes a very natural position for mum and bub. I don’t wear a bra (I did when my milk was regulating and I wore breast pads – the kmart strapless boobtubes are great) and depending on which boob we’re feeding on, that is the side that Jacob will sleep on. That means that now and then he will sleep in between us in the middle of the bed and before you say anything – NOTHING gets past my protective cocoon and if anything were to happen my motherly instincts would certainly let me know.
Initially I was adamant that co-sleeping was not for me, but I’ve come to learn that as a sleep-deprived mother, you do what you have to do to survive another day. Sleeping next to Jacob has brought this sense of safety and even though there are risks involved, I feel like I am able to protect him better when he is by my side. The best thing by far is that moment when he wakes up in the morning and stares into your eyes with such wonder and it is a moment that both Sean and I can share before he goes off to work for the day…and don’t even get me started on the smiles. Heart melt! Unfortunately for us there is a downside to our co-sleeping journey and it is that our bond has become so strong that Jacob has refused the bottle, refused the dummy and has started comfort sucking, which ultimately means our journey has to come to an end. Remember, every baby is different so this doesn’t mean that it’ll happen to you and your baby.
As Jacob and I move into our next phase of self-settling in his cot, I can’t help but feel emotional that my little boy won’t be sleeping with us anymore. I’m going to miss the the overnight cuddles and the morning smiles, but at the same time Sean and I can finally have some space to ourselves and reignite the romance (ha!). Would I do it again? Not sure, it would depend on if my next baby needed to be so close, but it is definitely something that I would consider. There are some really great benefits to co-sleeping and it not only encourages breastfeeding, but it helps nurture the bond with your baby and new research has even found that it actually decreases the chance of SIDS. The biggie for me is that co-sleeping promotes sleep and in those first few weeks sleep is bloody hard to come by. So yeah, now I think about it, maybe I would.
P.S. Hot tip: Even if you don’t co-sleep, feeding lying down is the BEST for resting those aching back muscles. Life changing! xx