Saturday, June 14, 2014

Unbiased Blogging: Co-sleeping

I don't believe anyone can be truly unbiased. Which makes the title of this seem a bit odd, yes? Here's the scoop deal reality. I don't care. Whatever floats your boat. If you want to know more information though, I'm dedicating this post to you. If you're searching for what's right for you... read on. I choose my choices and as long as you aren't hanging your child out a window or beating them senseless.. I think your choice is fine as well. Don't take my word for it... or your mom's... or the woman down the street who has eleven children and never has a hair out of place.  Make your own choices. Make your own mistakes. Find what works best for you. At the end, I'll post a separate part with my choices, and my reasons.  So, let's get started.

The one thing I stress as always, is research.
  • Check the sources. 
  • Read actual information.
  •  Read both sides.
The Pros:
  1. Can help encourage breastfeeding, by making nighttime feeds more convenient at night.
         *So, the theory behind this is pretty much exactly as it says. Co-sleeping can help make breastfeeding more tolerable during night time feeds. You aren't required to get up, you can literally roll over and pull out a boob and tada, baby has food and you can carry on sleeping. 
  2. Helps mom get her sleep cycle in-sync with baby.
         * You sense the baby stirring, you stir. You hear a cry from right next to you. You wake up and don't chance not hearing it from the other room or over the monitor. In the end, you become pretty in-tune with each other, waking around the same time and even falling asleep similarly. 
  3. Helps baby fall asleep more quickly, which in turn leads  to more overall sleep for mom and baby. (Argument on the Con Side also)
         * Without being shifted or moved from a crib, into arms to nurse/bottle feed the baby can stay in the same location. In the situation of a bottle feeding mother, the baby can still lay there while the bottle is prepared (safely away from edges if they are rolling, of course) and is in general less "bothered" by the hassles of a night time feeding. They might not fully wake up from their sleep state making it even easier to feed them and let them full immediately back into sleep.
  4. Can increase bonding and special moments for Parents that Work Away from Home.
         *Someone has got to pay the bills, right? So for the parent(s) that work away from home, these moments may be the only ones they have some days to be close to and enjoy the child. This can help increase bonding with that parent and the child, and provide a sense of closeness.
  5. Studies show that infant can have a more stable physiology.
         * Studies show that infants who sleep near to parents can have more stable temperatures, heart rhythms, and fewer long pauses in breathing compared to babies that sleep by themselves. Physiologically, these babies sleep safer.
         ** Much like when infant twins are in the NICU or Nursery, nurses will put the two babies in the same bassinet as they help sustain each others "normal" stats.
  6.  (Note: Can be found in both sides of the argument) Decrease of SIDS.
         *Studies have shown that countries where co-sleeping is the norm, rather than the exception, babies that either sleep in or next to their parents bed have a fourfold decrease in the chance of SIDS.
         **Contributing facts include that babies that co-sleep spend more time sleeping on their backs, rather than side or stomach. Also, parents breathe CO2, and it works to stimulate baby's breathing.
The Cons:
  1. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) advises against sleeping in the same bed for safety purposes.
         *Co-sleeping can increase the chance of accidental smothering. The baby might be caught up in your blankets (typically larger and heavier than one would find in a crib), or a parent might roll over onto the baby and stop the child from breathing. 
  2. Less sleep for the parents.    
         *Babies wiggle, moan, whine and are generally not quiet when they sleep. If you are easily awakened, you might spend most of your night in a state somewhere between awake and asleep. In turn, this can make the parents more irritable, less tolerant in the day time.
  3. Less sleep for baby.
         *Having the baby near you makes it that much easier for you to give in to the part of you that wants to pick up and hold the child at every noise. When other times he/she would self settle, now they may become fully awake. 
  4. No Sex
         * For a lot of people, this one is major. It's hard to Adult Tango when there is a third person in the bed with you. Especially when you are either afraid of A, moving at ALL to wake the child or B the child keeps nestling closer and trying to get in between you.
  5. Hard time adjusting later on
         *Some people argue that sharing promotes independence, but there is also note that it could cause the opposite. when you do move baby out of your room, the transition may be harder if not almost impossible. 
  6. Increases SIDS
         *In cases of prematurity or low-birth weight babies, studies who that their is an increase risk of SIDS
         **If you or your partner smoke, drink, take drugs or are too tired/incapable of responding to the baby.

I didn't name every Con and Pro. As with most debates, the Anti co-sleepers can come up with a 1000 arguments to go against it, just as easily as the Pro co-sleepers can name 1000 reasons to do it. It can be never ending. As I said before, go with what you feel is right, after you've done your research. Try something, and adjust. You adjust a lot as a parent.

Now, here's my take.
I didn't read any studies. I'd heard of co-sleeping and thought..."Uh.. HELL NO." A couple of my sisters in law co-slept with their kids, and I thought that was fine, for them. All I could imagine was rolling over and crushing my baby. If I didn't, I was sure my husband would, more than once have I got whacked by a stray arm or leg while he flopped around in his sleep. My husband felt the same. 

The first night we brought my son home, we dutifully laid him in his bassinet and as our room as small and already held the crib (we did want to room-share for the first few months) his bassinet was right inside our door, pushed as close to the side as possible so we could get around it. 

On cue, the baby woke up and as I was still trying to nurse him, I went and picked him up. I changed his diaper as he screamed and went with him to sit on the bed and nurse him. When he was done, I put him back in the bassinet.

On the second or so night of parenting I was exhausted. Which I hear is pretty normal. Who knew? I picked him, we sat on my bed, I propped him up on the boppy pillow, I leaned back against the wall.... and I woke up about an hour later.

Cody lay in my arms, boob having fallen out of his mouth at some point, asleep. And I thought... "hmm... that was a nice rest." The next feed was the same, unintentionally. I was just so tired. Finally after about a week I realized I was falling asleep during every feeding. It probably wasn't super safe, as I was sitting on the bed and could fall over/off or anything really. So, the next night I laid down... and that's how we started co-sleeping. 

Now, even after I stopped nursing (that's another story) he still slept with us. Partly because we were used to it, and partly because he was. At 5 months we transitioned him into the crib, which was a fight. He was used to having someone hold him all night. I'll be honest, it was horrible. At 7 months we transitioned him to the nursery.  Again, horrible. I'm sure we sort of did that to ourselves.

He's two and a half now. He's had his own room for a while, and even moved to a big boy bed last year. With our family uprooting twice in the last 6 months, things have been crazy and at the moment he's sleeping with us again.  

We have a queen size bed and he somehow manages to take up a good chunk of it. It's not always ideal. It's not always nice. It's also not always bad. I don't cuddle my husband as much as I used to, and sex is out of the question when he's in the bed with us, but we deal. It works for us. Cody goes to sleep, we go to sleep. We're content.  That said-- "No way in hell.... is this child sleeping with us when he's 5..." 

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