Saturday, September 19, 2009

bed-sharing is safe and wonderful

the idea of having a baby in a bed with two adults scares most americans. understandably, the logistics of it all are a little fuzzy until you actually try it yourself.  certainly, most people who have not witnessed it have images of pillows, blankets, and bodies smothering a tiny little baby.  bed-sharing is something that most parents do not plan on doing....particularly since it is looked down upon by most as being irresponsible and dangerous.  actually though, there is an order to it all, and it works beautifully.

from the minute my son made his way into my arms, i never wanted to let go. the very first night, he laid beside me and nursed and snoozed. from then on, it just felt right to have him sleep nights next to me and nurse whenever he was hungry. and it actually allowed me to get some sleep!! granted word sleep takes on a whole new meaning after becoming a mother....but, seriously, it has to so that you can quickly react and protect your child if necessary (wherever they may be sleeping).

when my son was 2 months old, i came across some research on how bed-sharing can actually prevent sids. not only that, it is hugely beneficial to your child emotionally. if you are someone who enjoys clinical trials and research on these sorts of things, check out james mckenna and his mother-baby sleep behavioral laboratory studies at notre dame.  mckenna is the go-to guy on seeing in black and white why bed-sharing is safe and beneficial.  plus, it is interesting to read about how mother and baby participate in a sort of synchronized dance at night---one moving and the other shifting in harmony.

these are the personal benefits i have experienced with bed-sharing:

--a connected, secure, warm, friendly, content baby
--watching your baby wake up and see your face and smile--the meaning of life encapsulated
--continuous sleep in bed while baby nurses when needed
--allows for a different nursing position other than "cradle" (which can help avoid plugged ducts)
--makes for a happy dad who is connected to baby all night and good family cuddling in a.m.
--allows some regulation of baby's sleep schedule (can quickly nurse back to sleep)
--extremely soothing during teething (in conjunction with nursing)
--baby has only woken twice in 10 months--fully awake and can't go back to sleep--in the middle of the night.  otherwise only "wakes" when hungry, then is quickly back asleep again

stay tuned for an upcoming post on helpful bed-sharing hints, including safety tips...

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