Anxious new mum - co-sleeping with a newborn - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 27 Old 07-16-2011, 12:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all, 

 

Just wondering if anyone can put my mind at ease with their stories about co-sleeping with a newborn? My three week old daughter is sleeping side by side with me (I often fall asleep while breastfeeding her) and we're both sleeping well. The nights are fine but by day I am wrecked with guilt that I'm going to smother her.

 

I've followed all the advice, there's no heavy bedding, I'm not overweight and I'm not touching a drop of alcohol. We have a king-size bed, my husband sleeps in his own bedding and I've created a barrier so she can't fall out...

 

I was just relaxing about it when a friend came by today (she works in a maternity hospital) and said, basically, co-sleeping is a big no no etc etc. They had a new mother there who fell asleep and smothered her newborn.

 

I get that in hospital they don't encourage it, because mums are so tired after labour, but am I really putting my baby at risk my sleeping with her at my breast?

 

It feels so natural - you can't imagine nature really designed the system so mothers would spend great portions of their nights nursing out of bed, rocking the baby back to sleep and then leaving it to sleep alone a few hours before doing it all again.

 

But I can't stop stressing about it.

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#2 of 27 Old 07-16-2011, 06:40 AM
 
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have you considered getting an arms reach co sleeper? we loved ours when ds was a newborn- he was right next to me but still in his own space-

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#3 of 27 Old 07-16-2011, 08:11 AM
 
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Mama, I feel ya! I'm on baby #5 and I thought I had nothing to worry about. I told my sister the other day about sharing the bed with my almost 2 week old and she was like "OMG! you cant do that!!!" and the next day, I got a call from my mother telling me about her aunt who smothered her baby by nursing while asleep. agh. I told her I'd be careful. But now, I'm terrified that I will smother the baby and I'm barely sleeping. I actually put the baby in the bassinet last night out of fear but it felt so unnatural. :(

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#4 of 27 Old 07-16-2011, 05:17 PM
 
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Mothering has a cosleeping pamphlet. I highly recommend it. It really set my mind at ease. I think they still sell it.

 

Cosleeping is a very natural thing and if done correctly is safe and great for all involved. Remember that unfortunately many babies that die in cribs as well. What a horrible thing to say.

 

Listen, I strongly suggest you follow your heart, your gut, and your voice, and that of your child. This is one of many things that differ from how you raise your child from others. all paths lead to therapy ^_^

 

I had two homebirths and I cosleep from day one after each one but yes, the first sleep after birth, my husband held the baby. I have heard a snuggle nest (?) works well.

 

follow your heart and do some good reading...


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#5 of 27 Old 07-16-2011, 08:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the advice. I've bought a book by James McKenna on the subject which is definitely putting my mind at ease. At night, I never feel like she's in any danger - it's when I wake in the morning and realise I can remember very little of caring for her in the night that I worry I was in too deep a sleep and something could have happened. 

 

I think I will just follow my instincts and stop telling people we're bed sharing - they can just wonder why I look so well rested. :-)

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#6 of 27 Old 07-17-2011, 02:47 PM
 
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Both of my kids slept in the crook of my arm when they were newborn. I had a cosleeper but only used it once or twice, it kept them too far away for me. I really like having actual contact with my baby when I am sleeping. I would always take them out of the cosleeper and fall back asleep with the baby in my arm. I feel perfectly fine night nursing my baby in bed with me. I cant imagine how stressful it must be to wait until the baby wakes up from across the bed and have to maneuver them around to you etc.. especially because my babies like to nurse a lot at night for the first three months, like every two hours or so! My son still wakes up once or twice a night to nurse, he is ten months old and has figured out how to pull my shirt down and help himself which always wakes me up. 


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#7 of 27 Old 07-17-2011, 04:33 PM
 
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Do an internet search for "breastfeeding" and "REM sleep".  There are links to quite a few studies that show women who co-sleep AND breastfeed do not go through the final stage before REM sleep; therefore sleeping lighter.  However, women who are bfing and co-sleeping do get more "slow-wave" sleep than formula feeding moms.  Apparently this sleep is more efficient at preventing pain, daytime fatigue, and also helps with depression.

I also second the co-sleeper as a way of learning to transition into full-out bed-sharing if you're nervous.  I used one intermittently for the first eight weeks or so.

I found that as my babe got bigger, the less I worried.  And now it's a regular snuggle fest over here - I am more worried about getting adequate space for myself next to my little bed hog than I am worried about rolling over on him!

 

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#8 of 27 Old 07-19-2011, 01:06 PM
 
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I have a 3 year old that still co-sleeps with me and has since he was born. He sleeps better and so do I. I can honestly tell you that from the about the last month or 2 of my pregnancy, I can hear a pin drop in the house in the middle of the night. I can be asleep in the bedroom with my son and HEAR my husband's breathing change when he has fallen asleep on the couch on Friday nights! I get up and tell him to come to bed. Cracks him up that I can hear that. I have never worried about smothering my son because I sleep so lightly. Before my son, I could've slept through a tornado!

 

Amazing what motherhood does to you!

 

:)

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#9 of 27 Old 07-19-2011, 10:08 PM
 
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I felt the exact same way. In fact, if I had known about MDC when DS was first born, I could have written this original post! 

 

I slept with DS on my chest in the hospital and at home. He wouldn't sleep on his back. He didn't even want to BE on his back at all. For the first few nights/weeks (who remembers!) DH and I would sort of take turns with him on our chest. I would lay semi-propped up with pillows and DS would have his head on my throat basically. When he got a little bigger and could nurse side-lying we just got in bed and he nursed to sleep and would then roll over from his side to his back. I was crazy anxious about our *dangerous* sleep arrangements... but I just did it and eventually he was so big I just felt safe. I always have a hand on him and a couple of times I've woken up because I sensed that DH was too close. 

 

Another thing you could do if you didn't want to purchase a co-sleeper is "sidecar" your crib (google it for instructions). That's what we have. DS doesn't sleep in it lol.gif, but it does give us the feeling of more space.


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#10 of 27 Old 07-19-2011, 11:26 PM
 
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You're fine, mama. :)

 

My husband I were pretty terrified when we brought our son home from the hospital and realized 10 minutes into our first night that there was NO WAY we could leave him in the crib overnight...but it was fine.  It sounds like you're being careful and, really, you're much more alert than you think you are when you're sleeping next to a newborn.  For the dissenters in your life, you can find the studies that show a lessened chance of SIDS in instances of safe co-sleeping, if you think that will help.  My son is now 3.5 and still sleeps quite happily by my side.

 

My daughter (12 months) was a NICU preemie, but started co-sleeping as soon as she came home.  From day one, she preferred to sleep stomach-to-stomach on my husband.  It was a little scary for me because he's a much deeper sleeper than I am, but it was amazing to realize that whenever she makes the tiniest peep or moves at all, he wakes up to check on her.  It's amazing how the body knows to respond to babies. :)

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#11 of 27 Old 07-20-2011, 09:29 AM
 
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Co slept with both my kids (still do - one is almost 8 the ohter is 1.) A funny story - when DD was about 2 in our big bed I woke up to find myself holding on to her leg. She had started to roll off the bed and I grabbed her while I was asleep to keep her from falling off.

 

but that said - you're asking about newborns - do go with your gut. Yes, there are always horror stories on both sides of the fence. But we humans were made to cosleep. I knew in my heart that there was no way I'd ever roll over on my baby. Even now, the three of us stir together in sleep ...  


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#12 of 27 Old 07-20-2011, 10:19 AM
 
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http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detsleepthrough.html

 

 

I really like her articles. 

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#13 of 27 Old 07-20-2011, 11:37 AM
 
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 I had the exact same fear and actually got less sleep because I was so paranoid about it! The first night home from the hospital, we realized that we completely wasted our money on the crib. There was no way we would be putting our newborn in the crib down the hall and using a monitor like we had originally planned. It felt so natural and right to have him with me...but I was also terrified of smothering him. So, we got a bassinet and put it next to the bed. That was too far away also. My son didn't sleep as well. So, we finally settled on a "Snuggle Nest" : http://babydelight.com/index.html and it was perfect. Baby was in bed with me, but there was a firm barrier for protection. I loved it. Once he grew out of it, he moved to our bed. By that time, he was bigger and I was more comfortable co-sleeping. 

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#14 of 27 Old 07-21-2011, 06:44 AM
 
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Hmmm...I co-slept for the first few months with our first and imagine we will do the same with the next one.  We didn't plan to but I couldn't bend over to reach in the bassinet after a c-section.  I felt really in tune with the baby and I could definitely see how you are missing out on REM sleep but get more slow wave.  I didn't feel as tired when we co-slept but I felt like I was sleeping lighter.  DH felt a little differently.  He was very scared to roll on the baby so he felt like he never really slept.  I tried to keep her on the side away from him and once or twice a week he would head to the spare room for a full nights sleep.  We only had a queen bed but we are considering going to a king for this one.

 

For the woman who smothered the baby in hospital I would ask if they had given her pain medications or sleeping pills.  I spent a week in hospital before baby was born and three days following the c-section and was offered sleeping pills every night.  When I requested a couple of tylenol for pain after the c-section I was heavily pressured to take Tylenol 3 and not just extra strength.  By heavily I mean she refused to just bring the tylenol even though the pain was ok.  You can't take anything when you are pregnant but bring on the narcotics when you are breastfeeding!

 

There are risks to everything.  There are risks the baby when the mother gets so little sleep causing post-partum depression to worsen.  You have to follow your gut to a certain extent and make the situation that feels right as safe as possible.

 

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#15 of 27 Old 07-21-2011, 01:16 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crimsonandclover View Post

Do an internet search for "breastfeeding" and "REM sleep".  There are links to quite a few studies that show women who co-sleep AND breastfeed do not go through the final stage before REM sleep; therefore sleeping lighter.  However, women who are bfing and co-sleeping do get more "slow-wave" sleep than formula feeding moms.  Apparently this sleep is more efficient at preventing pain, daytime fatigue, and also helps with depression.

I also second the co-sleeper as a way of learning to transition into full-out bed-sharing if you're nervous.  I used one intermittently for the first eight weeks or so.

I found that as my babe got bigger, the less I worried.  And now it's a regular snuggle fest over here - I am more worried about getting adequate space for myself next to my little bed hog than I am worried about rolling over on him!

 


I'm 3 days into co-sleeping with my awesome new baby and the 1st night, when I was suuuper tired, my hubs slept lightly with him and I got to sleep in any position without worry. Now I sleep like the above post describes. I've never been nervous about it because it is much more normal to me than some other arrangement. My hubs' family all co-sleep, it's like cultural or something. Putting yer baby in a crib is a goofy gringo thing :)

 

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#16 of 27 Old 07-21-2011, 01:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattee Petersen View Post

http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detsleepthrough.html

 

 

I really like her articles. 



Thanks!  I love the article also!  I also noticed in her article that she recommends the Dr. Sears book, Nighttime Parenting..although I didn't have the book, I relied upon his/their articles and online resources a great deal with dd....especially when it came to cosleeping--so I expect that this is also a great resource for new moms as well!

 

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#17 of 27 Old 07-21-2011, 02:05 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guatemama1 View Post



 Putting yer baby in a crib is a goofy gringo thing :)

 



LOL---I mean I really laughed out loud guatemama!    It is true though....for a country that prides itself on being so civilized we are really backwards when it comes to our children...especially our babies!!!  We treat them more like animals (putting them in cages but calling them cribs) and treat our animals like humans--letting them sleep in our beds!

 

I was reading a book (Dr. Karp, Dr. Sears????--can't remember which one) in which he visited a pacific island that had not much contact with the traditional western world and while he went there to study their child rearing (all AP practices) and ask questions....he found himself answering questions like "Do American women really put their babies in cages????", asked with a look of horror, shock and sadness.

 

Interestingly, the reason for visiting this island was because there was no known phenomenon as "colic". 

 

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#18 of 27 Old 07-21-2011, 02:16 PM
 
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Correction...the researcher (a friend of Dr. Sears) went to Figi to study to study family sleep habits and the info appeared in a Dr. Sears book--here is the excerpt so you can read it for yourself:

http://books.google.com/books?id=ytjVJ9wANosC&pg=PT436&lpg=PT436&dq=island+%2B%22babies+in+cages%22&source=bl&ots=flMlPshQIa&sig=nQwSl9XNP4aFw2OH9vQ1JxhnH50&hl=en&ei=6JUoTuDSIIbAtgeSpuS7Cg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CCUQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=island%20%2B%22babies%20in%20cages%22&f=false 

 

Dr. Karp did visit many so-called primitive cultures to study the incidence of colic, and found very little evidence of colic outside the U.S......but that was a different book....

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#19 of 27 Old 07-22-2011, 09:32 PM
 
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Well, it's hard to find anything new to say, but my 3rd baby was born 5 1/2 months ago and we've been cosleeping with him right in our queen size bed since day 2.  Only because with our first 2, we waited a few weeks for exhaustion and pp depression to set in before finally giving in and putting them in bed w/us.  This time around, after one  sleepless night, I could remember exactly why we put our other babies to bed w/us!  I was always told that this was wrong, so I always felt guilty about doing it.  Now, I just feel so bad for all the new moms I know who are sleep deprived, depressed, and desperate for their babies to sleep through the night when I've been sleeping through the night all along!  Also, I do not fear rolling over/ smothering my baby.  I keep the covers/pillow away from his face and I wake up often. Ultimately, you have to do what you feel comfortable with.  Everyone is going to have their opinions.  I just find that if you tell them your decisions with confidence, people tend to question you less.  

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#20 of 27 Old 07-23-2011, 12:32 PM
 
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I slept with my first two "in the crook of my arm", as one mom put it, from day one. (They have since moved to their own beds/rooms; ages 3 and 7). I am pregnant with my third and had planned to do the same, but have been reading so much research/pamphlets that are against it and say it increases the chances of SIDS and so on. Hubby and I have really been stressing over this issue as whether or not to co-sleep again, so I was relieved to stumble upon this thread and find some of the articles you all have linked! It's amazing how this world can "scare" us into changing our opinions and ways of doing things that come so naturally.

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#21 of 27 Old 07-23-2011, 05:19 PM
 
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Oh my!,You need to get rid of that guilt!  Sleeping with your baby is the best.  I know that it can be worrisome at first because of what the hospital may tell you.  But I am confident your maternal instinct will protect your little one.   My daughter slept with me and my husband since she was brought home.  Either going to bed with us, or sleeping in her crib until she woke up for a feeding then slept the rest of the night next to me.  When she was super tiny, she slept on my chest or in the crook of my arm. Sometimes I would wake up and she would be so sweaty!  Or sometimes covered by a blanket (but my body was always bigger than hers so there was air flow), and I would wake up and move her to a better spot and pull the covers down. 

 

I am expecting baby #2 in a few weeks and I completely plan on the same sleep arrangement (my daughter is now 4 and sleeps in her own room in a toddler bed, and loves her room and bed).  Sleep is SO important, it is best you are comfortable and if that means having your baby by yours side, that is best.  Don't feel guilty, feel like you are doing the best thing for your baby.  She is safe, warm ,loved, right next to you.  Relax and enjoy this incredibly special time!

 

Cheers!

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#22 of 27 Old 07-24-2011, 01:36 PM
 
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You might also like to look at this excerpt of James McKenna appearing on Australian TV on the 21st of this month, speaking about co-sleeping:

http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst​/stories/3275008.htm 

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#23 of 27 Old 07-24-2011, 06:26 PM
 
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OH - just wanted to add that both my kids spent the first 2 months sleeping on their bellies on my chest - while I was kind of half laying down, half propped up on the couch. It was soooo comfy for both of us!!!


Me (40) DH (49) daring DD (9) and darling DS - almost THREE! (born June 25, 2010 in an amazing, unplanned homebirth.jpg

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#24 of 27 Old 07-24-2011, 07:22 PM
 
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I intended to have my son sleep in a cradle right next to my side of the bed, but between the c-section recoveries and my son's absolute refusal from day 1 to go to sleep anywhere but on one of us, we ended up bed-sharing. It was really the only solution that kept me from getting immensely frustrated and unhappy due to the fact that he would actually wake up when he was transferred down to the crib, no matter how careful we were. Once I gave in and started bed-sharing, he slept pretty well. After the first few nights, I was pretty certain that I'd never smother him even though he insisted on sleeping with his nose in my armpit (as he still does even now at 22 months). My husband was a bit freaked out at first, especially when our pediatrician gave the usual dire warnings, but we just did things our way and it's been fine.

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#25 of 27 Old 07-26-2011, 10:51 AM
 
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Just to add what everyone else is saying, I was nervous at first but it was too natural to not sleep with DD. Even the first day after birth she slept on my chest while I had pillows propping up both arms to keep her from rolling off of me. She slept on my chest (always in a bed with a blanket only up to her waist) until she was 6 weeks old then I felt safe enough for her to sleep next to me. I used to be the DEEPEST sleeper you'd ever meet but the day I had my DD I became a different person. I can tell when her breathing changes and feel every little shift she makes so I much prefer sleeping with her than apart. I'm sure you will be safe, especially since you breastfeed and it will probably help you get more sleep than if your baby was away and you had to get up to feed at night. Good luck!


Emelee married to J in 03/07. 12/10 our DD C was at 41.3 weeks, and 06/12 our fraternal DDs A and V were hospital birth at 41.1 weeks.
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#26 of 27 Old 07-26-2011, 02:21 PM
 
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We took a very relaxed approach to co-sleeping meaning that the bassinett was close to the bed and if baby got fussy in with us she came.  I agree with the OP that unfortunately disaster can strike whether you co-sleep or not and you just have to do what you know is right and what works for you while taking all precautions and safety measures. 

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#27 of 27 Old 07-27-2011, 03:32 PM
 
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Hi, Im not a mommy yet, however i will be soon and my husband and i are moving into a VERY small apartment. There is no room for anything but a queen mattress in our bedroom, so baby has to sleep with us and i was worried as well. so i did some research and found this article actually. Its a study done by the University of Notre Dame. Here is the link:

 

http://www.nd.edu/~jmckenn1/lab/articles/McKenna_why%20babies%20should%20n.pdf

 

Hope that helps!! and good luck!!!

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