Saturday, January 16, 2010

Further to Man Nurse's post...

Some good discussion surrounding cosleeping habits was generated, and I wanted to share some of it here. Some questions have risen particularly regarding marriage relationships, intimacy, and independant sleeping for older children.

Dana had some good points here:
I think what the cosleeping contingent is saying is: do not assume that own-room-crib-sleeping is the only, best and safest way for a baby to sleep. In-room and in-bed sleeping arrangements are great and safe too. And can have some particular benefits.

Each family should find its own solution. But, taking into consideration that co-sleeping is a valid arrangement. Because many families just don't know or believe that.

As far as the marriage goes, it's important to have some perspective on disruptions to what we consider ideal. It's a relatively short period of time; each phase passes, it really does. Sometimes we need to make changes (for instance, when Micah started waking up when we went to bed, we moved him to his own room) and sometimes we have to adjust our attitude and ride it out.

Also, I would contend that having a sleep deprived Mom- one who's getting up and walking over to the nursery to feed baby several times a night- places just as much strain on a marriage as having a (contented) baby in the bed. :)

I would like to add that a marriage that has problems that lead to its disintegration is generally a relationship with multifaceted problems. Children in their parents' bed might be a symptom of a larger distance or misprioritization, but they are not the problem itself. Infants sleeping in the same room as their parents is a proximity that is protective. But cobedding and cosleeping or cobedding with older babies or children needs to be something that responds to the needs of the family as a whole. If it doesn't work for either parent or is not working on some level--for example, interfering with intimacy, it needs to be reevaluated and possibly changed. If it is continuing to work for everyone involved, it should be recognized as within a safe and healthy realm of parenting styles and decisions. A marriage relationship that has flexibility and open, respectful communication will not be endangered by cosleeping or cobedding.

I wrote in an email to a friend about this topic that;

And as for the cosleeping thing, I have never said it is something EVERYONE needs to do, but it is something I wish was more widely accepted as within the safe and normal parameters of parenting. Sometimes cosleeping requires some creativity as far as sex goes; relocations to guest room/closet/bathroom/etc are a solution. Moving baby once he's asleep is a solution. I've always put my older babies to sleep in their own beds, and then cosleep after the first night feed. Some parents do it differently. It doesn't bother me to have sex with a baby in the room as long as they are SLEEPING--as soon as they start waking up to the noise/activity, they move to their own bedroom. This system works well for us because we don't have sex in the middle of the night, so starting in their own bed and cosleeping after the first wakeup doesn't interfere with sex. We've always managed to be very close and intimate despite having kids and cosleeping.
A few of my friends have said they couldn't actually sleep with a kid in their bed with them, so obviously it's not the best plan for THEM. But I'd really appreciate more people being open to it being a good plan for OTHERS. And sharing a room is considered cosleeping. Cobedding is different. We do a mixture of both, but having baby in your room in a bassinette or crib or other infant bed is considered cosleeping and has protective effects as far as SIDS.
Sure, it's nice when they move out and you have your room back for sleeping and reading and etc. But it's nice to roll over in bed and hardly wake up if they need a night feed, too. So it's six of one and half dozen of the other. Starting in their own beds and cosleeping after the first night feed solves this for me, also! I get the best of both worlds.

Here's my honest opinion on this:
for the first few months I believe babies should sleep in the same room as their parents. This facilitates optimal infant feeding and protects baby against sleep dangers like SIDS, strangulation, and getting caught in the crib rails, and ensures bonding and consolidation of syncronized rhythms. After the baby is a few months old I think it is equally good to choose either cosleeping or separate sleeping, based on what works for your family. The greatest vulnerability to SIDS is from 2 months to 4 months, so this would probably be a good time frame to cosleep (also the first month!), but some babies are strong and healthy, or restless sleepers, so do better in their own room at 3 or 4 months, the age would be variable. But those early weeks are pretty important for having mom in close proximity. Stress hormones are high in a neonate who is separated from its mom, even if it is sleeping, and this is a biological protective mechanism. Babies in proximity to moms have increased chances for survival in nature, so it makes sense that we have retained that function/characteristic.
After that, what works for families is variable. And whether baby is in the parent's actual bed or not, is variable also.

Cobedding isn't for everyone, but it works well for many!

As soon as I finished this post I saw that Dana had written a post that was a spinoff of this discussion, which I think is excellent, and firmly within my experience as a wife and mom. She discusses how children can help a marriage consolidate and bond, rather than inherently stress. Read it here!


Sara and family said...

I co-bed with our 15 month old. Our five year old still crawls into bed with us every morning, sometimes when it's still nighttime. I am in no hurry to change any of our sleeping arrangements.

Leigh and I spend time alone together almost every night after the kids are in bed. I don't feel like we need to go out, spend money, get a babysitter, stress about the kids, etc just to feel connected but I am often made to feel like this abnormal or like it means I don't love my husband. I had a long time with my husband before kids arrived. This time is for our family and for them. I don't want to escape them and don't need to to feel connected to my husband. I like Dana's entry about the 'one size fits all' approach. Everyone does what works for them - or should be - and we all need to respect that not every family works the same.

ps. Happy birthday Lis. I hope it was a great one!

man-nurse said...

I agree wholeheartedly. I don't think having kids in the bed will place more stress on a marriage unless one partner is already inherently stressed by kids in general. I kinda think that if you feel your privacy is being invaded by a neonate, then you probably need to reevaluate your view of parenthood. However, if your spouse is this way, then sleeping in the same room might be a necessary solution.

We've never really had a problem with intimacy while cosleeping. Especially when they're really small, geez.

And I don't understand the idea of feeling displaced by my infant. It's my infant. It's part of my job to not be the center of my universe anymore. Oh well.

ms emili louann said...

thanks for these co-sleeping/ co-bedding posts! they answered some of my lingering questions, and now i have sufficient "ammo" for those people who scold me for bringing jonah into bed :)

it was especially fitting since i had just read an article in the newspaper about three milwaukee county baby deaths in the past month - the article brushed under the rug the fact that two of those three deaths were caused by drunk mothers passing out on top of their children. absolutely horrific.

use your brains, people.