Co-sleeping with My New Born

Co-sleeping. It’s quite a controversial topic. The message that is it unsafe is drilled into mums-to-be. We are made to believe that if we let our baby sleep in our bed then we are risking the death of our child. This is absolutely terrifying and can cause severe anxiety for new mums.

When Olivia was born I told myself I would always make sure to put her in the beside-me crib. It worked for the first couple of weeks, she had no problem staying in the cot. Then things changed. She became more aware of her surroundings and wanted to be close to me when sleeping. I would try and put her in the crib but she would cry and cry. I was exhausted. I needed to sleep. One night, I moved all the sheets and pillows out of the way and placed her in between my husband and I. She fell asleep, I fell asleep. It was a god send.

Every night from then on until she was 10 weeks old, she slept in our bed. I felt guilty for doing it and was ashamed to tell people we were co-sleeping. Then, a few weeks postpartum I was surprised to hear a midwife actually recommending the practice.

I joined an: “Ask Your Questions” Teams call, run by a midwife from my antenatal classes, and she began talking about new research that suggests co-sleeping is safe if done correctly (see below how to practise safe co-sleeping).

After the call, I looked up the research for myself and found an article by UNICEF that brought me a lot of comfort. The article begins: “Sleeping in close contact helps babies to settle and supports breastfeeding, which in turns prevents babies from Sudden Infant Death syndrome”.

Most parents will end up co-sleeping at some point, whether intentionally or not. As it is a taboo, the topic is avoided by health professionals, whose advice is mostly, “Just don’t do it”. As a result, new parents are not told how do it safely.

In a guide to health care professionals, UNICEF says: “Remember, shocking messages that imply that any/all co-sleeping leads to death are not helpful. They do not reflect the evidence, and they frighten parents and staff, induce guilt and close down conversations.” UNICEF

Sharing a bed with my new born made her feel safe and secure, and allowed me to sleep so I could be a better mum in the day. The stigma around co-sleeping will surely change as more research comes out, hopefully putting an end to this source of anxiety for new mums, who have enough to worry about as it is.

At 10 weeks old I transitioned Olivia back to her cot with no problems at all. My little baby was growing up! She just needed those first couple of months of support to get used to her new world.

Safe co-sleeping guidelines:

• Keep your baby away from the pillows.

• Make sure your baby cannot fall out of bed or become trapped between the mattress and wall.

• Make sure the bedclothes cannot cover your baby’s face or head.

• Don’t leave your baby alone in the bed, as even very young babies can wriggle into a dangerous position.

• It is not safe to bed-share in the early months if your baby was born very small or pre-term.

• Do not sleep with your baby when you have been drinking any alcohol or taking drugs that may cause drowsiness (legal or illegal).

• Do not sleep with your baby if you or anyone else is a smoker.

• Do not put yourself in a position where you could doze off with your baby on a sofa or armchair.


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