Before you become a parent you know it all, don’t you? I mean, how many times did you look at a parent and think my kid wouldn’t be stropping in the street like that, my kid will eat all their dinner, no fuss from my amazing imaginary children! My baby will be in a great routine from early on, oh and they will never, ever sleep in the bed with me. Yeah, this was me all over and I’m here to admit it because at the end of the day I had no clue, not one at all. I assumed far too much, I had never experienced the type of sleep deprivation that comes with children (only from drunken nights out!). I had never had a tiny person rely on me 24/7 and I never had to question every decision I made throughout the day– over and over and over again.
My imaginary children were beautiful, they were polite, they listened and they behaved themselves. How lovely, eh! If only…
Reality brings you down a peg or 2 or 5 and suddenly you are immersed in a world where sleep is all you wish for, where a dummy is a lifesaver (not the ugly device you swore you’d never use), where vomit stained clothes litter your bedroom floor, where you spend your days rocking the baby and wonder if you will ever be able to put them down.
I didn’t co-sleep with my first, I saw it as a negative parenting technique. I didn’t understand why those parents would want to do it or how on earth they got a good nights sleep doing it. I also thought it was dangerous and a bit silly, as well as a way of encouraging bad habits for their child. I was open about my feelings on it and couldn’t see why the use of a Moses basket next to the bed wasn’t enough. Yes, I was still that judgemental person I had been before having any babies.
Then along came William…
I had no plans to co-sleep. I bought a Moses basket and I just assumed he would sleep in it the same way that Jake did. But not all babies are the same, are they? *Sigh*
We did manage a couple of weeks I think it was before the dreaded colic and reflux kicked in and then… there was no putting him down and so co-sleeping did commence! At first, I felt as though I was doing something completely wrong. I mumbled it to the health visitor who looked at me as if to say ‘you should know better’. I mumbled it to a doctor who didn’t respond. I told a nurse who reassuringly said ‘you have to do what you have to do, you can’t survive on no sleep.’ I started to feel a bit better about it all, although my sleep wasn’t the best because I was so nervous I would roll onto him. For some reason, I felt that I needed this validation from a healthcare expert to make myself feel better. Sounds daft now but I guess because somewhere down the line I had somehow been made to believe that co-sleeping was so bad I had only this one view on it previously and now I was doing it myself I was the bad parent.
Anyway, we are now weeks on and yes, he is still in with us. In fact, I actually quite like it and I never thought I would say that! Not being able to bring your baby home from the hospital straight away has such an effect on that maternal pull, so to finally have him home I turned into one of those Mums who won’t let their little one go. Having him close to me in bed, having this little miracle sleeping, snuggled up and to wake up and see him first is almost a kind of therapy for me. Not only this, but it makes breastfeeding sooo much easier. No more sitting up and waiting for him to finish, then falling asleep with him still latched on and getting neckache, I simply lay on my side and let him latch on; and with all his comfort feeding through his colic, this has been a lifesaver. If he wasn’t in with us I would just never be able to sleep. Having a four-year-old too, pre-school runs, clubs to go to, friends to see, I would be no use, so even though once I turned my nose up at co-sleeping I now see it as an essential part of caring for William and in turn for my family.
As long as you are safe, you don’t drink or smoke, you aren’t so incredibly tired that you may roll onto them and not wake up. As long as you follow all the appropriate guidelines and seek advice when needed, co-sleeping can be a positive side of parenting and may even save your sanity through the sleep deprivation and the dreaded fourth trimester!
Do you co-sleep or do you have other views on it?
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