Monday, September 21, 2009

tips for bed-sharing

just to clarify, bed-sharing is different than co-sleeping. bed sharing is having the baby in the bed with you throughout the night. co-sleeping can be a variety of set-ups where your baby sleeps in a co-sleeper (3 sided) crib next to you and may or may not come into the bed with you at some point.

the first days after my son was born, he would either sleep lying across my chest/belly and latched onto one breast or we would side-lie facing each other---his face at my breast, feet at my bent knees.

because i wanted to be extremely safe in the first few weeks as i was feeling out bed-sharing, i found that these little rechargeable night-lights came in really handy. i stashed one on either side of my pillow, so i could easily grab it in the middle of the night to be sure my son was positioned properly. the dim light is better than getting up and turning on a bright light and waking everyone up in the meantime.

if possible, try to have a separate comforter or blanket for you and baby to share.  twin size will work.  this will help you control the covers over you and the baby (as dad thrashes about with his own).

while baby is tiny, you may want to roll up a little swaddling blanket and place it behind his back...running in the direction of his spine.  this will help him stay in place while side-lying.  my son never really needed this, but some may.

it's easy to nurse if you sleep in a great lounge top like this organic cotton one or this one that will keep you warm and has easy access for baby.  you may need long sleeves, since your upper body will be exposed ---- your sheet/blanket will be down near your belly as to not cover baby.

if the breast that isn't feeding your baby leaks, you may want to keep a little wipe or two handy that you can press against the breast to stop the flow.  these wipes are great (for all sorts of things!).  if you need more support at night, you can wear an organic cotton bra for small or large breasts....and add reusable/washable pads if necessary.  just be aware to not let something moist stay against your breast for too long---in order to avoid mastitis or thrush (yeast).

your body may feel slightly unstable while side-lying, and if so, you can put a pillow between your legs.  my physical therapist says the pillow should support your pelvis by running it from your knee to just below your ankle.  additionally, a pillow behind your back may will have to offer a different breast to your baby every few hours to avoid engorgement.  either grab baby and roll him over with you, or get up on all fours and slide him over.

finally, when baby starts to roll around on his own, you may fear (rightfully so!) that he could fall off the bed.  you have a few options: put your mattress on the floor, roll up a towel and stuff it under your fitted sheet along the edge of your bed, or buy a crib rail like this.  for what it's worth, in 10 months, my son has never fallen off the bed.  he snuggles up to me to nurse every few hours, so he basically never gets too far away.  granted there have been a few close calls now that he's crawling, because he wakes to nurse sort of half-awake and searching for me, which can be dicey if he's on the bed edge side of me.

sweet dreams!

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