Sweet Dreams: To bedshare or not?

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The first night after our baby’s birth we went to bed and I laid him in the crib in our bedroom, got into bed and stared at him. After a while my husband looked at me and said “It feels so unnatural to have him so far away from us, he has been surrounded by you for 9 months”. In that moment my heart leapt into my throat, thank goodness he had said it, that was my feeling exactly! Everything in me since I had laid him down wanted to pick him back up and be with him. For the next hour or two we sat in bed, me sobbing while holding our baby because I couldn’t bare to be away from him, yet was so frightened of falling asleep with him.

My husband did all he could looking up information and evidence on bedsharing, it’s dangers and how to safely bed share. Eventually we made some quick changes to our sleeping arrangements and had done enough to calm my nerves about sleeping with our son. That night we all got some sleep and the next day we made it so the crib was open and attached to our bed, giving our son his own space and me a little more peace of mind but keeping that all important closeness.

I for one was shocked when I found myself in the wee hours of the morning holding our son and falling asleep standing up!
In the weeks and months that have followed our little one has slept by my side every night. This has led me to wonder how many others have found themselves in similar situations?

In the ‘after care’ talk we received at our local hospital we were informed of the safety and dangers of swaddling, baby sleeping on their back/side/tummy and where to position baby in their crib/cot; but nothing was mentioned on the subject of bedsharing. It seems bedsharing in general, isn’t widely spoken about, but why? Is it because it’s not common practice, or is it generally not accepted in society as a safe practice?

Whichever it is, I’m sure there is something else more common and potentially dangerous than bedsharing amongst new parents. Those few seconds you closed your eyes, only to be jolted awake when you felt your body soften a bit too much as you started to fall asleep. As much as we don’t like to admit it, it’s probably inevitable for most, if not all of us. I for one was shocked when I found myself in the wee hours of the morning holding our son and falling asleep standing up!

I’m not ashamed to admit that on more than one occasion I had got out of bed with him and experienced that same feeling. Standing or sitting, it doesn’t matter, when you’re that tired there really is nothing you can do to avoid it, or is there?

If we accept that many parents find themselves in a similar sleep deprived scenario, why do we not do more to educate parents on all safe sleeping arrangements, including bedsharing?

Don’t be quick to rule out bedsharing… Do your own research and come to your own conclusions, you might find the evidence surprises you.

It wouldn’t surprise me if many parents found themselves in situations where they were so exhausted they bought baby into bed on the spur of the moment, just so they could go back to sleep. Unfortunately this is where bedsharing gets a bad reputation, and I feel wrongly so.

If bedsharing is done correctly and the sleeping area has been prepared for bedsharing, then there is a lot less risk to baby then you might think. When you consider that the possible alternatives we find ourselves in; last minute bed sharing or accidentally falling asleep while sitting on the sofa, armchair or worse, standing up; surely a bit of education on the subject of how to safely bedshare would be beneficial to a lot of parents?

So if you’re thinking about your sleeping arrangements, don’t be quick to rule out bedsharing. Yes there will be people who will say it’s “too risky” for their liking, but don’t take their or my word for it. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions, you might find the evidence surprises you.

Whatever your decision and whatever your sleeping arrangements, I wish you all a safe and peaceful sleep.

Sweet dreams

-B

The following is a leaflet provided by La Leche League and Pinter & Martin outlining the 7 smart steps to safer bedsharing.

  • safe sleep page 1 thumb
  • safe sleep page 2 thumb

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