I am expecting my first baby in a month. My husband and I plan to co-sleep and we've read a fair amount about safety and "the basics." However, no one has been able to answer a really simple question: do I have to sleep on my side, facing the baby all night long? I cannot imagine sleeping comfortably if I am not able to switch positions. How does this work??
I switch positions at night. When DS was really little (0-4 weeks old?), I mainly slept on my back with him on my chest. I felt more secure with him that way, so I was able to sleep more soundly. As he got sturdier and I got more comfortable with co-sleeping, we switched to side-lying. When I want to roll over during the night, I just flop DS over with me. When he was smaller, I'd sort of hug him to my chest and roll over with him on top of me; now that he's heavier I go up on my hands and knees and scoot him over to the other side.
When we first started side-lying, I was sleeping in some way that was killing my neck and shoulder. We got it figured out before too long, though, and now I sleep great. I was always a stomach sleeper, too, so I had some of the same concerns as you do.
I will roll and face away from the baby if I need too. If I am doing that I just check and make sure she has no pillows that she could pull over her face (the only pillow near her is the one under my head, and my head is holding it down!).
I was much more reluctant to do this when she was very little, mostly because if I wake, I want to see her immediatly. Usually if I had to switch sides, I would move her so I was still facing her. This meant she was in the middle of the bed sometimes. I know some sources say baby should always be on the outside, not between mom and dad, but I think that was not applicable to us. Her dad was hyper vigilant about where she was in the bed and I have no worries of him rolling on her. Plus we have a king and there was plenty of room.
Sometimes I will lay on my back too, with an arm stretched out over her head.
When DS was very tiny, yes, I slept on my side all night long with him cradled on my arm and didn't really change positions. Now that he's a little older (5 months), I change positions. I sleep on my side, facing him, then on my back with my arm around him, then I'll put him on the other side to switch sides to nurse and repeat. I guess the only thing I can't do is stomach-sleep. I wasn't comfortable on my back when he was smaller because I was afraid that he would get wedged beside me and I wouldn't know. But now, I don't worry as much. He can move around. When I happen to wake up, I'll check which way his head is turned (toward me or away or straight up) and if he's toward me, I'll try to move away a little. He does like to be RIGHT beside me, touching me, so I just sort of keep an eye on his face/breathing.
I do admit, that in the beginning, I got kind of stiff sleeping in one position. But I was so tired that I slept anyway.
Oh, and yes, DS is in the middle when I switch sides but if DH is in bed with us, I put pillows between him and the baby and move the pillows far enough away from DS that I don't have to worry about them near his face. We have a king bed so extra room.
4 years and 5 IVF cycles in the making, Elliott was born at home in water on 2/2/11.
Thank you! Your comments have been very helpful. I'm also glad to hear that others do, at times, sleep with baby in between mom and dad-- that helps to normalize something that I was thinking might happen despite the warnings of dear Dr. Sears!
With my DD I was sooooooo uncomfortable co-sleeping with her. BFing her was difficult side lying. My back hurt, my hips hurt, my shoulders hurt...everything just plain hurt! She'd wake up with the slightest movement from me. It was hellish for a long time. In hindsight, she would've been much better as a side car baby. Now that I have my DS (someone to compare experiences with) I can see now that he actually LIKES to cosleep. He'll nurse and then snuggle up laying his face (nose up and clear) on my breast or I can inch away slightly, or turn slightly away from him with no problem, and he's only 4 weeks old. I've been co-sleeping with him since he was just a few days old. The experience is like night and day--- so hard on my body with her, so much easier with him. When he wakes to nurse, I just flip over him (he stays still, I move to the other side) So, yes, at times he is in between me and DH, but DH hugs the other side of the king size bed, so I see no issue there. Plus there is a king size pillow in the middle of the bed (which gets wedged behind my back when I am nursing on that side) that he would prevent him from contact with the baby.
That said, I'd imagine that both BFing and co-sleeping would be easier with a second baby, so that could be part of my experience, too. Although I just wanted to post to tell you not to worry too much about being uncomfortable. You might have one of these babies who is just really good at co-sleeping and allows you to get comfy and move around a bit.
Mama to F(06/11/09) and baby boy C (06/09/11)
I did sleep with my back to DD. We side-carred the crib and that helped me to be okay with it since it gave us tons of room. When she was tiny I would always make sure she was in the middle of the crib and I would move over toward the middle of our king bed. That way even if she did move in her sleep she was far from my back/pillow/blanket. And to be honest, I found that when I have a newborn I don't sleep all that soundly. I was awake at smallest movement so it wasn't a problem. Now that she's almost a year, I still do the same, but don't worry about it nearly so much. (Plus, I've noticed I now sleep much deeper, so it doesn't last forever. I am still aware of her but it's not the same as with a tiny newborn.)
~m. Mama to two! DS (11/2006) and DD (07/2010).