Thursday, January 14, 2010

Plagiarized from Man Nurse Diaries

Man Nurse had a good cosleeping post today that I had to share, as I agree with so much of what he says. I'd like to add that cosleeping means sharing the same room: cobedding means sharing the same bed, though cosleeping is often used to describe only cobedding. Both can be protective. You can read his post, its comments, and his blog here.

Co-Sleeping: Does It Really Need To Be Explained?
It is recommended that your baby shares a room with you for at least the first 6 months, as this helps with breastfeeding and protects babies against cot death.
(From the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative and the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths)

It amazes me that people have concerns about co-sleeping. People seem to really think that they'll roll over in their sleep and crush or smother their baby. Do you roll off the bed onto the floor at night? Do you roll onto your spouse (I mean, in your sleep, not in an effort to start something)? You have proprioception, or spatial awareness, even in your sleep. That's why you don't fall off the bed every night. I mean, if you fall off the bed every night, don't co-sleep. So it doesn't take long to become accustomed to a baby in your bed. My wife and I have co-slept with four kids (including two babies at once) and have never had the slightest problem.*

I've read a few articles about 'co-sleeping deaths', but they all seem to revolve around a few themes: alcohol; parents who don't normally co-sleep falling asleep on the couch with a baby; infants being left alone in adult beds; and obesity. None of these apply to the average co-sleeper. The fact is that if a non-co-sleeping parent gets drunk and falls asleep on the couch with their baby and the baby dies, this is reported as a co-sleeping death. That's not co-sleeping! There are hundreds of not-newsworthy SIDS cases where a baby died the "safety" of an unwatched crib. I can't help feeling that some of those deaths could have been avoided by safer sleeping practices; practices which exist in most of the world outside the United States.

The sad thing to see is the stress some parents go through when they insist on crib-sleeping their infant. I've seen parents intensely frustrated (at their baby!!) because their infant won't sleep unless, say, they have a hand on its back, and they have to sit up half the night next to the crib. If the baby obviously wants is proximity to the parent, and the parent wants sleep, these can both be accomplished IN A NORMAL BED! Co-sleeping is so easy compared to crib-sleeping. I don't understand the rationale of locating your child away from you, so that they're fully conscious and screaming before you get to them. A fussy co-sleeping child can be nursed or held or rocked back to sleep while they're still half-asleep.

What I really don't understand about co-sleeping is the fact that we talk about it at all. Why is there even a term for it? Doesn't it just...happen? You lay down to nurse your infant and they go to sleep. Going through the ordeal of buying a crib and organizing an entire separate room of the house around it and then trying to wean your child into sleeping alone after they've been living inside you for nine months...that's an epic process that deserves a term.

* Except being nudged, pushed, or kicked by a little six month old who somehow manages to own half of a queen sized bed to itself...


Louise and Gary Chapman said...

Mel, I just have a few questions that I hope come across in the right way....
IN regards to cobedding, I have slept with my kids maybe less than 10 times each. When I was so tired at the beginning that we would both fall asleep breastfeeding or when Koen would lay on my chest. But, when I have a kid in my bed, I can't sleep. I had Koen in there this morning from 4:30am and I knew that if I moved, he would want to play so I just lay there awake while he played with his blankie quietly. If I'm not breastfeeding him, how the heck is he supposed to fall asleep with mommy, his fav. play friend?
Also, how the heck do you have any intimacy with your husband if there are kids in there? I remember once on a holiday, Kai was in the same room as us (not bed) and doing anything felt really strange.
I did have my kids in our room for the first 3 months or so but I have to say that being able to talk and do whatever else with Gary was much appreciated once the baby was in their own room.
I totally see nothing wrong with co-bedding or co-sleeping, it's just not for me I guess.

Rachel Clear said...

One of the things I am the MOST excited about once our baby is born is sleeping them with. I can't... freaking... wait.

However, like Louise said, I know that I will need to find ways to strike a balance, for the sake of my marriage. (Here's the marriage counselor/passionado side of me coming out). Sooooo many marriages suffer, often leading to divorce, once kids are brought into the picture, and this is almost always cited as the source: the men feel completely displaced by their kids. This isn't healthy. Not saying that happens with all co-sleeping (and heck, I'm more excited than anything to co-sleep!) but I could see this working better for some pepole than others.

Partners that work odd shifts or don't always share the bed, it could work well. Partners who go to bed and wake up at the same time, and who rely on their bed time for intimacy, sex, conversations, etc., can suffer greatly if a balance isn't reached. If a balance isn't reached early on, by co-sleeping, a woman can replace one stress with another (another of possibly far greater impact, I might add).

So yes, this post got me all excited because I cannot wait to co-sleep! But I do see the merits of both co-sleeping and separate sleeping, when all factors are considered.

Rachel Clear said...

Heck, I just can't wait to watch my baby sleep... period!

Dana said...

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. :)

Caryn Ouwehand said...

I am also in the camp of not being able to sleep with the baby in the bed. Oh how I wish I could. There have been nights when Silas has had a cold/flu and can only settle when snuggled in with us and how I have wished that I could sleep next to him, I am such a dredfully light sleeper though...sigh.
Silas slept in a rocking style bassinet next to me for the first 3 months of his life and I wouldnt have traded that bassinet for anything. I loved having him an arms reach away, especially during the frequent night feedings. And he would often resettle easier with my hand on his tummy... so yes, I love the IDEA of cosleeping... I just wish I was better at it!

Roboseyo said...

It's not plagiarism if you give credit, silly.

[wife of man-nurse] said...

I have to say, I don't always nkow how to respond when someone asks "how do you have intimate time with your spouse when there's a baby in your bed (or room)?"

first off, that can be taken two ways. if you mean non-sexual, I can't imagine how hard it would be to cuddle or talk with a sleeping baby next to you. in fact, it's got to be easier, when nursing the baby to sleep, to cuddle or talk--if you ere sitting up in another room until your kid was asleep, you'd probably be alone while your spouse stays in bed.

if we mean sexual, I have to wonder if there's much desire of that sort in the first place. where there's a will, there's a way, right? if teenagers know how to sneak around behind their parents' backs [note: I do not endorse, nor have I ever engaged in, this type of behavior] then how hard can it be to sneak around your sleeping infant, who doesn't really care what you're up to? unless, of course, he wakes to eat again, in which case, well, you'd have to tend to him no matter where he sleeps.

though to be honest, I think intimacy or privacy is more of an excuse than a real reason...